Leya Elias Named Truman Scholar

Leya Elias (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: May 4th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Stanford University student Leya Elias has been awarded the 2020 Truman Scholarship. The Co-President of the Ethiopian & Eritrean Students Association is one of two Stanford undergraduates and “among the 62 American college students to receive the award, which provides support for graduate school in preparation for careers in public service.”

According to Stanford University “the Truman Scholarship was established in 1975 to honor the legacy of President Harry S. Truman.” The Stanford press release adds that Leya Elias “ will join a cohort of scholars that includes Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, former National Security Advisor and Stanford alum Susan Rice, ’86, U.S. Senator Chris Coons and Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.”

“I am beyond honored to have received the Truman Scholarship and am forever indebted to my on- and off-campus communities for providing me with the support to be able to accept this award,” Leya Elias said in a statement. “Receiving this scholarship only further strengthens my commitment to serving my communities with compassion, humility and dedication.”

Below is Leya Elias’ bio courtesy of Stanford:

Leya Elias of San Francisco is pursuing a bachelor’s degrees in psychology with minors in political science and African and African-American studies. A dedicated public servant, Elias credits the award to the support she has received from her family, friends and mentors, among others. Elias established an impressive public service career before she joined Stanford. As a high school student, she interned with San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission and volunteered for the Homeless Prenatal Program, a nationally recognized resource center for homeless and low-income families. Elias also interned for then-San Francisco Supervisor and current Mayor London Breed. The position, she said, was extremely formative in developing her interest and passion for public service.

At Stanford, Elias has worked with several organizations, including the Institute for Diversity in the Arts and the Center for Human Rights and International Justice. Her sophomore year she was elected to the Stanford Undergraduate Senate and was later selected as its chair. She currently serves as Co-President of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Students Association and Co-President of the Stanford Black Pre-Law Society. She also works as a Cardinal Service Peer Advisor at the Haas Center for Public Service, a role in which she advises other students on how to incorporate service into their professional and academic experiences. Elias’ public service work extends far beyond the Farm. As a policy intern for the Public Rights Project, she collected stories of wrongful evictions and conducted research on predatory lending practices. And with support from a Stanford in Government Fellowship, she traveled to Accra, Ghana, for an internship with the Ghana Center for Democratic Development.

With support from the Truman Scholarship, Elias said she plans to attend law school. Her ultimate goal is to become a public defender.

“In the future, I hope to create a more equitable criminal justice system working toward its own obsolescence,” she said. “Specifically, I would like to become a public defender and organize alongside communities in creating alternatives to incarceration that help to both heal and prevent all types of harm.”

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