A KU junior from Wichita is still in the running for a $30,000 Truman scholarship.
Bhavi Shah can take comfort in the against-all-odds victory by President Harry S. Truman nearly 50 years ago.
Shah, a Wichita junior in environmental studies, is the only Kansas University nominee to advance to regional interviews in the 1996 Harry S. Truman Scholarship competition.
Skeptics who downplay her chance of winning one of the 85 scholarships might consider Truman's narrow triumph in 1948 over Thomas Dewey, whose election was thought to be a foregone conclusion.
"There's nothing easy about the competition," she said. "There are five other people from this state who are also qualified."
Shaw is among six Kansans -- three from Kansas State University and one each from Wichita State University, Brown University and KU -- still in the hunt.
Candidates for the $30,000 scholarships must be planning careers in public service. Shaw intends to seek a four-year joint degree in law and environmental studies at Duke University if awarded a scholarship.
Winners are chosen on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of "making a difference."
Since 1981, 11 KU students have become Truman scholars. Four of five winners from Kansas in the past five years have been from KU.
Shah said the scholarship would help pay for her study of Midwest water policy. Water quality in the region is lower than most people think, she said.
"As a public policy issue, it's fascinating for me," she said. "Agricultural runoff in Kansas is a lot of the problem."
The next step for Shah is a regional interview by a six-member panel Feb. 7 at University of Missouri in Kansas City, Mo. Final selection of Truman scholars is based on the regional panelists' recommendations. Winners will be announced March 22 in Washington, D.C.
At least one scholar will be chosen from each of the 50 states.
During the next two weeks, Shah plans to keep up on current events and participate in a mock interviews to prepare for the regional round.
"Anything is fair game in these interviews," she said.
Shah also will brush up on Truman's life by reading his biography. Flubbing an interview question about the man honored by the scholarship program wouldn't go over well with the selection panel, she said.
Now, who was that Kansas City Democratic political boss who helped Truman enter politics in 1919?