Submitted on Monday, 6/16/2014, at 2:26 PM

By William Sweet

Two Amherst students intent on spreading justice at home and abroad will soon be putting those plans into action, thanks to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. A third student has been awarded a Beineke Scholarship to pursue graduate study in environmental history.

Bess Ibtisam Hanish ’13 and Khan Shoieb ’13 are among this year’s 54 Truman Scholars, who were selected from among 587 candidates nominated by 292 colleges and universities. Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation, recently announced the 2012 scholarships.

Congress established the Truman Scholarship Foundation in 1975 to support college students who are applying to graduate school in preparation for careers in government or other forms of public service. Each Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study, as well as leadership training and career counseling. The foundation also offers special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their classes and be committed to careers in government or the nonprofit sector.

There have been 2,844 Truman Scholars selected since the first awards were presented in 1977. Nine Amherst students have received the award in previous years.

The 2012 Truman Scholars will assemble on May 22 for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum in Independence, Mo., on May 27.

Bess Hanish '13

Hanish received her associate’s degree from Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., before coming to Amherst, where she studies political science and anthropology. She is a TRIALS (Training and Recruitment Initiative for Admission to Leading Law Schools)and Critical Language Scholar, as well as a former White House and State Department intern. After law school, Hanish plans to return to government as an advocate for global women's rights. She hopes to apply to the Washington Summer Institute, ideally working with the Bureau for the Middle East at USAID. She is particularly interested in the struggle of Arab women to receive equal treatment and access to education.

 “In the Middle East, we find no state with female education equaling male education. Instead, we find countries like Yemen with female literacy rates as low as 30% ... we also find  women's rights being violated through child marriages and brutal honor killings throughout the region,” she wrote. “Many Arab-American women find themselves in similar situations as their Middle Eastern counterparts: uneducated, married young, or victims of ‘honour’-related violence.”

Khan Shoieb '13

Shoieb is a political science major at Amherst and will be pursuing graduate study in immigration law and refugee and forced-migration studies. He has helped revive the Amherst Political Union, led Amherst’s Roosevelt Institute chapter and studied abroad at St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford. He has advocated for immigration reform through internships and volunteer activities, and he hopes one day to lead the Domestic Policy Council in the White House.

“Securing immigrants' rights is the civil rights issue of my generation. I have no intention of sitting on the sidelines,” he wrote in his application. “Too often when we extol our heritage as a nation of immigrants, we do not have in mind the most recent arrivals to our shores… today's immigrants live in a climate where they are highly vulnerable to wage and labor exploitation, subject to ethnic and racial profiling, and must endure discriminatory state laws that even attempt to discourage their children from attending school.”

Shoieb told the foundation that he would like to work at the Department of Justice, in the Policy and Strategy section of the Civil Rights Division, assisting the division's enforcement and antidiscrimination activities by bolstering efforts through legislative and policy channels.

Keri Lambert ’13 is one of 20 students selected for this year’s Beineke Scholarship. A graduate of Amherst Regional High School, she is majoring in history at Amherst College and is involved with the Amherst LEADS leadership development program. This past summer, she worked with rice farmers in Sierra Leone for OneVillage Partners, an experience in line with her interest in environmental history. She studies how human beings’ identities have been molded by their environments, be they rural or developed.

Keri Lambert '13

“Historians so often divide the world around us by studying political or economic or art history. Environmental history, on the other hand, offers me a way to study Earth’s systems and parts as inextricably fused and reliant upon each other,” Lambert wrote in her application. She intends to apply to a graduate school that, like Amherst, embraces interdisciplinary and interregional perspectives. She has her sights set on Harvard or Yale.

The Beinecke Scholarship Program was established in 1971 by the Board of Directors of The Sperry and Hutchinson Company to honor Edwin, Frederick and Walter Beinecke, brothers who ran the company for many years. The program offers graduate school scholarships for students “courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences.” Each scholar receives $4,000 immediately before entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school.

Since 1975, the program has selected more than 490 college juniors from more than 100 different undergraduate institutions. Seven Amherst students have received the Beineke Scholarship in years past and have gone on to graduate schools including Harvard University, the University of Texas and the University of Chicago. Edward Adams ‘86, a 1985 recipient, is now an associate professor of English at Washington and Lee University, and Vanessa L. Fong ’96, a 1995 Beineke Scholar, is an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.