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Grad is UC's First-Ever Truman Scholar

UC Arts and Sciences neurobiology graduate wins one of the most prestigious U.S. undergraduate honors.

Date: 4/13/2017 12:00:00 AM
By: Melanie Schefft
Phone: (513) 556-5213
Photos By: Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services and provided

UC ingot   Mohamed Elzarka wins the University of Cincinnati’s first Truman Scholarship, one of the most esteemed honors a U.S. undergraduate can receive.
Student Mohamed Elzarka standing in front of UC's McMicken Hall. photo/Andrew Higley
Mohamed Elzarka –– 2017 UC Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence awardee

As one of only 62 Truman Scholars in 2017, Elzarka will receive a $30,000 scholarship toward medical school and the opportunity to participate in a global health outreach. Elzarka and the other scholars were selected based on their records of leadership, public service and academic achievement, and will receive their awards in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum on May 28.
A UC honors student and Cincinnatus Excellence Scholar, Elzarka has maintained a 3.97 GPA, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and will graduate this spring with a double major from the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. He is receiving a bachelor of science degree in neurobiology and a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts with a self-designed focus on public health –– comprised of minors in Spanish, psychology and political science –– and a certificate in international human rights.

“I am deeply honored to join a group of student leaders who are set to make such a positive impact on our world,” says Elzarka. “I would like to thank God and also my family, friends and professors for their amazing support.

“I am excited to represent the University of Cincinnati at the national level in the program and hope that many Bearcats will join me in the years to come.”
Mohamed Elzarka at a computer in a local health clinic
Elzarka worked to help Hispanic-speaking patients at Cincinnati's Crossroads Health Center.

Throughout his undergraduate studies, Elzarka wasted no time in securing positions of leadership on campus and in national organizations, such as:
  • Honors ambassador
  • Supplemental instruction leader at the Learning Assistance Center
  • Executive director of Mental Health Services for the Undergraduate Student Government
  • Volunteer tutor for the Bearcat Buddies program at a Cincinnati Public School
  • Volunteer intern at the Crossroads Health Center
Elzarka received research internships at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, looking at effective new clinical treatments for autism and epilepsy, and a research fellowship at the UC College of Medicine in the Winston Kao Ophthalmology Lab. 
Through a competitive undergraduate research fellowship awarded by the Taft Research Center, Elzarka studied access to mental health services among Hispanic populations in Cincinnati. As a leader in student government, he also developed a new curriculum for freshman students and has created and led the Mental Health Ambassadors, a peer support system within each college at UC.

After becoming grass-roots on-site internship coordinator for the UC chapter of GlobeMed, Elzarka organized a global health internship for himself and four undergraduate students to work on health equity and social justice for Social Action for Women (SAW) in Mae Sot, Thailand this summer. Ultimately, Elzarka hopes to eliminate barriers to care and to expand health care access through grass-roots efforts and policy development.
Mohamed Elzarka stands speaking in front of a TEDX Cincinnati sign.
Elarka spoke about health care for underserved populations at a TEDXCincinnati salon.

“As a featured presenter at a TEDxUCincinnati salon, I have had the chance to speak publicly about health care for underserved populations and how to combat health problems at their sociological ‘source point,’” says Elzarka. “This opportunity was impactful for me because it gave me a forum to share my understanding about issues that affect the health of minority groups and vulnerable people.”
After graduation, Elzarka hopes to remedy health inequities by pursuing a career as a physician and health policy researcher.
About the Truman Scholarship  
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation’s living memorial to U.S. 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.

This year, the Truman Scholarship Foundation reviewed over 768 candidates from 315 colleges and universities. Out of 199 finalists for the award, only 62 were selected based on their records of leadership, public service and academic achievement.
Annually, candidates for the Truman Scholarship go through a rigorous, multistage selection process. Scholars receive a $30,000 award toward graduate school and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to help prepare them for careers in public service leadership.

Read about all 62 Truman Scholars
Learn more about UC's Nationally Competitive Award winners