UD's Sarah Hartman has been named a 2016 Truman Scholar.

Truman Scholar

University of Delaware junior Sarah Hartman named a 2016 Truman Scholar


9:27 a.m., April 21, 2016--University of Delaware junior Sarah Hartman, an environmental engineering major with minors in French and political science, has been named a 2016 Truman Scholar. 

A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Hartman is one of 54 new scholars selected from a pool of almost 800 applicants attending 305 colleges and universities. 

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The federal scholarship provides $30,000 for graduate study and is awarded to juniors based on their records of leadership, public service, and academic achievement. 

The 20th Truman Scholar in the University’s history, Hartman intends to pursue a master’s degree in water and environmental policy, with a focus on drinking water and sanitation in developing countries. She plans to use the technical knowledge gained from her engineering education to effect policy change that will bring clean water for agriculture, industry, and residential use to people across the world.

“I lived in developing parts of China for six weeks and spent a summer in Senegal, where even in the capital, people struggled to have access to water,” Hartman says. “At a muddy school surrounded by dirt playing fields, I saw the joy a borehole well could bring children. Water enabled them to go to the bathroom. It let their vegetable plants grow. Water was their source of not just joy, but life.”

Hartman joined UD’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) as a freshman and was quickly selected to lead the organization’s next project — designing a sustainable solution to the water needs of the small village of Ubujan in the Philippines. Since then, she has planned and led two successful assessment trips to test the water, built formal relationships with local leaders, and started a water and sanitation education program.

She was inspired by the late Prof. Steve Dentel, who founded and advised EWB at UD. In addition to working with Dentel through EWB, Hartman did research with him on the Eco-Vapor toilet, which uses a semipermeable membrane to manage fecal sludge.

Hartman’s resume is packed with awards and accomplishments: UD Woman of Promise, Girl Scout Gold Award, VanDemark and Lynch Sophomore Award, peer mentor for the English Language Institute, and an almost-perfect grade-point average. 

But this Honors Program student’s attention is always turned away from herself and toward others — whether it’s in the local community through a weekend service program she founded called Reach Out or across the globe through EWB. 

She knows that she will never see the Philippines project to completion, but she’s satisfied knowing that she has laid the foundation for a lasting change in Ubujan and that she has inspired countless people along the way.

Winning the Truman award has given Hartman much to think about as she nears the end of her junior year. In the fall, she will assume the presidency of UD¹s EWB chapter for the 2016-17 academic year.

During the summer of 2017, she will join other Truman Scholars in completing an internship in Washington, D.C. She is looking for an opportunity with an agency focused on international water policy.

After graduate school, Hartman hopes to begin her career working for an international organization such as Water Aid, the United Nations Environmental Program, or United Nations Water, where she can gain exposure to the complexity of water issues, such as the application of solutions in a social and cultural context and how to optimize results. 

“Applications to problems are effective only when they are correctly fitted to the needs of the community they’re meant for,” she says. “To be effective, you need to understand a society and how it functions as you plan and implement a program.”

About the Truman Scholarship

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation’s living memorial to President Harry S. Truman. The foundation has a mission to select and support the next generation of public service leaders. The Truman award has become one of the most prestigious national scholarships in the United States. 

Annually, candidates for the Truman Scholarship go through a rigorous, multi-stage selection process. In 2016, there were 775 candidates for the award nominated by 305 colleges and universities, a record number of applications and institutions. The 200 finalists for the award were interviewed in March and early April at one of sixteen regional selection panels. 

The 54 new Truman Scholars selected in 2016 will receive their awards in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum on Sunday, May 29. 

Recipients of the Truman Scholarship receive a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to help prepare them for careers in public service leadership.

Article by Diane Kukich

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson and Stacy Rubin Weile

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