Published: Feb. 3, 2015

Three Honors College students nominated for Truman Scholarship

Contact(s): Stephanie Cepak Honors College office: (517) 355-2326, Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore Honors College office: (517) 35-2326

Three Honors College students interested in public service have been nominated by Michigan State University for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation recognizes college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to affecting change through public service, providing them with financial support for graduate study, leadership training and fellowship with other students.

MSU has nominated Brian Batayeh, an Honors College junior majoring in biomedical laboratory science in Lyman Briggs College; Raziel Lavalais, an Honors College junior majoring in political theory and constitutional democracy in James Madison College and economics in the College of Social Science; and Florence Otaigbe, an Honors College junior majoring in international relations in James Madison College.

“All nominees are student leaders who have already demonstrated their potential to make a difference in the world,” said Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, dean of the MSU Honors College. “MSU is proud to nominate them for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship in recognition of their promising public service careers.”

MSU has produced 16 Truman Scholars.

Batayeh hails from Armada and graduated from Armada High School. He is a research assistant in Lyman Briggs College, the College of Education, Center for Integrative Toxicology and the Archive for Research on Child Health.

He is a Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience intercultural aide in the residence hall. In this capacity, he helps other MSU undergraduates make a smooth academic, cultural and social transition to the university.

Batayeh volunteers revitalizing neighborhoods in Detroit and Lansing, is an organizer of TedxMSU and is a member of the Arab Cultural Society.

He has an internship with the Ingham County Health Department and wants to earn a master’s degree in public health.

“I aim to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and public health practice within the state of Michigan by coordinating projects that illuminate health trends to the general public, policy makers and health professionals,” Batayeh said. “This scholarship will allow me to fulfill my dream of being an advocate for systems of health justice while creating collective visions of health with underserved communities.”

Lavalais came to MSU from Cheyenne, Wyoming, and is a graduate of Cheyenne East High School.

He is the recipient of the Honors College National Scholarship, the Presidential Study Abroad Scholarship and a STARR Scholarship, which is awarded to students who excel in academics and extracurricular activities and who exhibit strong leadership traits and good moral character.

Lavalais interned at Juvenile Extensive Management Services in Cheyenne, mentoring at-risk children and teenagers of low socioeconomic status. He volunteers at Haven House in East Lansing and is one of the Economics Scholars in the College of Social Science.

He is planning to pursue a master’s degree in public policy and a law degree.

“In acquiring a law degree I would attain a knowledge of law and legal processes that would assist me best in a future holding leadership positions in public office, while also giving me the utility to analyze and author legislation focusing on education,” Lavalais said. “In earning a master’s in public policy I would analyze the effects education policy has on resource allocation, politics and econometrics with further study in ethics, leadership and management.”

Otaigbe came to MSU from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she graduated from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science.

She held internships with the Georgia House Democratic Caucus and MSU Honors College. Otaigbe is a James Madison College ambassador, member of the MSU Pre-Law Society and president of Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council.

Otaigbe is the recipient of the Honors College National Scholarship. She plans to pursue a law degree.

“I intend to have a career focused on working with refugees due to the opportunity I have had serving the refugee community in the Greater Lansing area,” Otaigbe said.

The National and International Fellowship and Scholarship (NIFS) Office at MSU, administered by the Honors College, helps interested undergraduate and graduate students to pursue major national and international opportunities by providing information and direct support throughout the competitive application processes. The Honors College serves academically talented, committed students who wish to pursue and achieve academic excellence.