Two University of Connecticut students have been named Truman Scholars, marking the first time in history that UConn has multiple scholars recognized.
“Sage Phillips ‘22 (CLAS), a junior political science and human rights major, and Sena Wazer ‘22 (CLAS), a junior environmental studies major, represent UConn in a highly select group of 62 new Truman Scholars from around the country,” Mike Enright, UConn deputy spokesperson, wrote in UConn Today. “They were picked from 845 candidates nominated by 329 different schools.”
The Truman Scholarship is a tribute to the late 33rd President and public service with the goal of inspiring the next generation of public service leaders.
“The Truman Scholarship recognizes students for excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service,” Carl Lejuez, UConn Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs said in UConn Today. “You have to be a triple threat to be competitive for the Truman, and that’s exactly what both of these students are. But, it also takes the support and commitment of mentors who encourage and fuel our students’ greatest ambitions.”
President Thomas Katsouleas said this recognition affirms that UConn students are making a difference through their leadership and their service.
“Sage Phillips and Sena Wazer represent not only the very best of what UConn has to offer but also everything we challenge our students to be,” Katsouleas said. “With only 62 Truman Scholarships awarded nationally among over 300 colleges and universities that nominated students, to receive one is a rare honor. To receive two is an indication of something truly special here about our students and the life-transformative support they receive from our dedicated staff and faculty.”
As Truman Scholars, Phillips and Wazer receive a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to prepare them for public service leadership positions, Enright said.
Phillips hopes to pursue a law degree and a master’s in American Indian Studies. As the founding president of the Native American and Indigenous Students Association and the Student Coordinator for Native American Cultural Programs (NACP) at UConn, she hopes to pave the way for UConn to connect with Native youth in Connecticut.
“I am thrilled for both of these outstanding young leaders, each of whom has blazed a unique, meaningful, and impactful trail here at UConn,” Vin Moscardelli, Director of UConn’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, said. “Having two Truman Scholars in the same year is a testament to the ambition and energy of our students, their deep commitment to making a difference in the world, and the way our entire campus community fosters and encourages leadership, engagement, exploration, and personal growth.”
Wazer plans to pursue a master’s degree in public policy, eventually pursuing a career in public office. Wazer co-directs Sunrise CT, a hub of the National Sunrise Movement, a youth-led cause fighting to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process, Enright said.
“I’ve spent most of my life working on environmental issues and public service and to have it recognized this way is really incredible,” Wazer said. “I am looking forward to having the opportunity to meet other Truman Scholars who are similarly committed to public service. It’s really exciting to be part of that community.”
With a passion for climate justice and social justice, Wazer wants to bring that passion into politics. Wazer enrolled at UConn in fall 2019 at the age of 25 after originally attending Manchester Community College starting at age 13.
“Sena’s leadership and her commitment to fighting climate change, combined with a mature self-awareness that belies her young age, make her exactly the type of scholar, servant, leader, and changemaker the Truman Foundation is looking for,” Moscardelli said.