Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

Harry S. Truman Scholarship

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship supports the graduate and professional development of students committed to public service leadership. Each year the foundation selects approximately 60 scholars for this competitive national award. Applicants must be nominated by their universities to compete for this national program and the University of Washington is able to nominate 4-6 candidates each year. Students who are in their third year of study are eligible to apply for nomination. This year, the University of Washington nominated 5 students and one of our nominees was selected as a Truman Foundation finalist.

Learn more about the Truman Scholarship Program and UW’s nomination process.

UW 2016-17 Nominees

  • Melissa Guzman: Law, Societies & Justice; Psychology
  • Talia Haller: Business Administration; International Studies
  • Jolee Melink: American Ethnic Studies; Social Welfare
  • Elizabeth Purdy: Social welfare
  • Ernie Tao: Biochemistry; Political Science

UW’s 2016-17 Finalist: Ernie Tao

Junior, Biochemistry, Political Science majors


Ernie is a political science and biochemistry major at the University of Washington. Upon beginning his undergraduate studies, he worked as an EMT in the city of Seattle and then later moved on to work as a Firefighter/EMT in Skyway, Seattle. These experiences catalyzed his passion for public health, and he is particularly interested in the social determinants of health as a major contributor to disparities in health outcomes. His coursework and experiences with various research projects has allowed him to pursue quantitative studies in subjects such as food access, food insecurity, and food policy analysis. Ernie has also worked as a cancer immunology research assistant in the Ruddell Lab and as a youth tutor. He is a Princeton PPIA fellow, Mary Gates Research Scholar, Kaiser Scholar, and honors student in both majors. Upon graduation, Ernie hopes to peruse a dual masters in public health and public administration to one day serve as a public health administrator. Ernie plans to use his background in field medical work, research methods, and policy analysis to develop evidence-based health policy to promote individual and community health.