Grand Valley student named finalist for prestigious Truman Scholarship

For the fourth time in Grand Valley’s history, the university can boast a Truman Scholarship finalist.

Junior Malia Kah, a global studies and social impact major in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, is one of 189 nationwide finalists selected from a pool of more than 700 applicants for the nation’s most prestigious domestic award for undergraduate students.  

“I was honored simply by being presented with the opportunity to apply and be nominated for the Truman Scholarship,” said Kah. “I knew this was highly competitive, so reading the email that told me that I get the chance to enter the next step in the process is in itself worth a celebration. I am nervous, however, I keep trying to remind myself that this is a rare opportunity, so I'm going to first and foremost have fun with it.”

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation recognizes juniors for academic excellence, leadership potential and a commitment to public service. Congress created the scholarship and President Gerald Ford signed the bill in 1975 to honor the 33rd president.   

In the fall of 2021, Kah was one of six students selected for the Semester in Detroit program, a rigorous urban studies immersion program coordinated by GVSU in partnership with the administering institution, the University of Michigan.

GVSU junior Malia Kah smiles for a photo.
Junior Malia Kah is one of 189 national finalists for the Truman Scholarship, which awards undergraduates based on academic, leadership potential and commitment to public service.
Image credit - Courtesy

In the Semester in Detroit program, Kah served as an intern with Hope Village Revitalization, where she built a database while pursuing a research project on the need of data organization and analysis for grassroots organizations.

Kah plans to attend graduate school and work with a municipal organization to build partnerships with private utilities and redlined neighborhoods. She would like to help develop data collection and analysis for grassroots organizations and help them communicate more effectively with state and federal agencies.

“It has been a pleasure getting to know Malia as she completed the application process for a Truman Scholarship,” said Brenda Tooley, who leads the Frederik Meijer Office of Fellowships as the Associate Director of the Center for Undergraduate Scholar Engagement.

“She is highly deserving of this honor. I am delighted that she is a Truman finalist in this year’s application cycle. She is a very impressive young person, and I can well see her as a future leader in the public arena.”

For more information about the Truman Foundation and its scholarship, visit


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