University of Notre Dame juniors Tarik Brown and Gregory Miller have been named 2021 Truman Scholars, becoming the University’s 10th and 11th Truman Scholars since 2010. This includes three eventual Rhodes Scholars: Christa Grace Watkins ’17, Alex Coccia ’14 and Prathm Juneja ’20.
Brown and Miller are among 62 recipients of the award from a pool of more than 840 candidates. They were recommended by 17 independent selection panels based on their academic success and leadership and likelihood of becoming public service leaders. Regional selection panels met virtually and included distinguished civic leaders, judges, elected officials, university presidents, federal judges and past Truman winners.
In applying for the award, the students worked closely with Elise Rudt, national fellowships senior program manager with the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE), which promotes the intellectual development of Notre Dame undergraduates through scholarly engagement, research, creative endeavors and the pursuit of fellowships.
“I am so happy that Tarik’s and Greg’s hard work paid off and they have earned access to the resources of the Truman Scholarship. This year was one of Notre Dame’s most competitive internal competitions, and it was my honor to work with a truly accomplished and service-oriented class of Truman applicants,” Rudt said. “The process would not have been possible without the time and efforts of our nomination and interview panelists. I would like to extend a special thanks to past Truman winners and Notre Dame alums Alex Coccia, C.J. Pine, Grace Watkins, Becca Blais and Prathm Juneja, and to faculty and staff members Claudia Francis, Chloe Gibbs, Amanda Nowak, David Phillips, Judith Fox and Jeffrey Thibert for their service and input on such panels.”
“I am so happy that Tarik’s and Greg’s hard work paid off and they have earned access to the resources of the Truman Scholarship. This year was one of Notre Dame’s most competitive internal competitions, and it was my honor to work with a truly accomplished and service-oriented class of Truman applicants.”
A native of Chandler, Arizona, Miller is an economics and applied and computational mathematics and statistics major and a Hesburgh Program in Public Service and constitutional studies minor with an interest in housing rights for low-income tenants. He is a QuestBridge Scholar.
He is co-founder and co-president of the Student Policy Network, president of the Roosevelt Institute, co-president of BridgeND and a campus ambassador for Free the Facts. He previously served as a moderator and panelist with Bridging the Divide and as a presenter with the Higgins Labor Program.
Away from schools, he is co-founder of the South Bend Tenant Association, a nonprofit that advocates for tenant rights in South Bend. The group formed in response to a rent dispute involving tenants of a low-income property on the city’s west side. More recently, it advocated for extended rent-assistance during the pandemic. It is currently assisting with the sudden and unexpected relocation of 112 families from a poorly maintained public housing complex downtown.
In addition, he is a matriculate advising fellow and a volunteer with Our Lady of the Road, and regularly speaks to high school students from low-income backgrounds about the college experience using his own experience as a first-generation, low-income student as an example.
For the past year, he has served as a research assistant in the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO). There, he has worked with Robert Collinson, the Wilson Family LEO Assistant Professor of Economics, to investigate a variety of questions, including eviction costs, public housing waiting list design and affordable housing tax credits.
He previously served as a winter term research assistant with LEO, a government affairs intern with the American Hotel and Lodging Association, a Lincoln Douglas Debate lab leader with the SouthWest Speech and Debate Institute, and a research assistant under Luis Fraga, the Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C., Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership and director of the Institute for Latino Studies, at the Institute for Latino Studies.
As a Truman Scholar, Miller hopes to pursue a coordinated J.D./doctorate program at Harvard, earning a law degree from Harvard Law School and a doctorate in economics from Harvard University. From there, he hopes to work in the Department of Housing and Urban Development to increase access to affordable housing and improve tenant outreach. In the long term, he hopes to organize a national tenant coalition to coordinate efforts between city and state tenant unions, advocate for tenants at the federal level, provide resources to tenant unions nationwide and support developing unions.
“I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Elise Rudt, whose advising was crucial to making me a scholarship-winning applicant,” Miller said. “I am so grateful for the Notre Dame community — friends, professors and staff — who have continually supported me through this process. I am excited to embrace the title of Truman Scholar and continue working toward intergenerational equal opportunity through my graduate and professional career.”
Collinson, the assistant professor of economics under whom Miller works at LEO, said of Miller, “Greg is the very best student I have taught at Notre Dame, but more remarkable than his academic success is the time and energy he devotes to helping individuals and families in need in his community. He is a model of public service and is an outstanding selection for the Truman Scholarship.”
Named for former U.S. President Harry Truman, the Truman Scholarship recognizes college juniors (or fourth-year students in five-year programs) who demonstrate outstanding potential for public service and who plan to pursue public service as a career. It offers as much as $30,000 for students to pursue a public service-related degree, with additional benefits available by school.
Brown is a computer science major and Hesburgh Program in Public Service minor with interests in technical education for students from low-income backgrounds and in bias and inequity in law enforcement, the criminal justice system and education. He is a QuestBridge and AnBryce scholar and served as president of the Notre Dame QuestBridge Chapter from May 2019 to May 2020.
On campus, Brown, who is from Jacksonville, Florida, is a member of the Irish Guard and Band of the Fighting Irish, the National Society of Black Engineers and the Black Cultural Arts Council. He is founder and president of the Financial Literacy Club of Notre Dame, which provides financial literacy resources to first-generation, low-income students, and successfully advocated for an annual reception to uplift first-generation, low-income students.
Off campus, he helped establish robotics programs at multiple elementary and middle schools in Duval County (Jacksonville), Florida, and worked with the Duval County Public School System to establish STEM enrichment programs. He volunteered for QuestBridge in Palo Alto and Black Girls Code in Seattle, planned and led leadership workshops for college-bound high school students from underserved communities through AnBryce, and founded a nonprofit that works with schools in Duval County to expand access to technical education.
In addition, he created and runs Founding Pathways, a scholarship program that empowers first-generation, low-income students to pursue STEM degrees.
In terms of practical experience, he served as a software engineer/program manager intern with Microsoft, a robotics intern with Johnson & Johnson and a student intern with Google. He also co-founded STUDIA, a free web application that provides tools for students to develop their science skills.
Brown currently serves as a research assistant under Laura Zanna, professor of mathematics and atmosphere/ocean science at New York University, where he conducts machine learning research around climate change. He is also a part-time intern at Apple in Palo Alto, California, where he is studying as part of the University’s Silicon Valley Semester off-campus study program.
As a Truman Scholar, he hopes to pursue a master of public policy from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. From there, he hopes to expand Hack_Future, his nonprofit that increases access to technical education among students from low-income backgrounds in Duval County. In the long term, he hopes to develop additional nonprofits focused on inequity within the criminal justice system as well as bias in policing and racial disparities in education.
“I will forever be in debt to Elise Rudt and the CUSE team for guiding me throughout this entire process. I would also like to thank Maria McKenna, Richard Pierce, Patrick Clauss, Barkley Barton, Mark McCombs, Pete Buttigieg and so many more who guided me and contributed to the application process,” Brown said. “I am also grateful to my friends and family for their constant support.”
He continued, “As a first-generation, low-income student, I never once thought in my life I would be able to receive an award like the Truman Scholarship. I am proud to represent Notre Dame and I hope to serve as an example that anything is possible no matter the circumstances.”
Barkley Barton II is associate director of undergraduate admissions at Notre Dame. He worked closely with Brown as staff adviser for the Notre Dame QuestBridge Chapter.
“Given his leadership, drive and passion to combat the systemic issues that affect first-generation, low-income students on campus, I expect Tarik is a complete package,” Barton said. “He will make the Truman Scholarship Program proud.”
For more information on this and other scholarship opportunities, visit cuse.nd.edu.
Originally published at news.nd.edu.