MORGANTOWN, WV — Azeem Khan, a West Virginia University student committed to public service, has been named the University’s 26th Truman Scholar, the nation’s top graduate fellowship award for aspiring public service leaders.
“Azeem blends a demonstrated commitment to public service with a fierce passion for problem solving, which is an unbeatable combination when facing challenges ranging from mental health to opioid abuse,” President Gordon Gee said.
A native of Charleston, the political science major with dual minors in business cybersecurity and philosophy is acutely aware of the challenges his home state faces, especially with respect to the opioid epidemic.
“I think it’s impossible to live in West Virginia and go a single day without thinking about the impact the opioid epidemic has had on our state,” Khan said. “Growing up, it’s something we always saw impacting our communities. But in the face of incredible adversity, I always found myself inspired by the resilience of ordinary West Virginians.”
As co-chair of the Mountaineer Fentanyl Education Task Force, Khan has led efforts to educate WVU students about the dangers of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid drug.
Composed of WVU student leaders, the Task Force primarily focuses on education about the unique dangers of fentanyl and the resources available to fight back against the deadly drug.
Since the Task Force’s inception in July 2022, student leaders have presented in many WVU first-year seminar classes, distributed free test strip kits, partnered with faculty members to host educational events, and conducted social media campaigns that reached more than 70,000 accounts.
“This task force is something that isn’t being done anywhere else in the country,” Khan said. “We have an amazing team of students who are dedicating their time and effort to this cause. They really care. They are going above and beyond to save lives. And we always talk about if we save one life, that’s more than worth it.”
As president pro tempore of the WVU Student Government Association, Khan has led efforts to engage with state lawmakers about the importance of student mental health. And he continues to have promising conversations with legislators and WVU senior leaders to seek progress in this important area.
Truman Scholars demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence.
Khan’s commitment to public service is rooted in his family’s story.
“My family came to the United States when my grandparents immigrated here in 1963,” he said. “The United States has given my family opportunities which would be unimaginable anywhere else in the world. That is something which is at the top of my mind every day of my life and is a reason why there is no title I am prouder to hold than ‘American’. America has given so much to me and my family, and I feel an obligation to do everything humanly possible to contribute to improving our country.”
Each Truman Scholar receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government.
An Honors College student, Khan will use the award to support his graduate studies following graduation from WVU in spring 2024. He aspires to attend law school and continue to fulfill his passion for public service.
“As Azeem joins the proud WVU tradition of Truman Scholars, we welcome him as someone with tremendous potential to make a positive difference from the campus to the courtroom to the Capitol and beyond,” said Jay Cole, senior advisor to President Gee, the WVU Truman representative and a 1993 Truman Scholar.
Support for the application was provided by the WVU ASPIRE office which helps students pursue national awards like the Truman Scholarship.
“It’s a privilege to support talented students like Azeem,” Amy Cyphert, director of the ASPIRE Office, said. “I know the support he receives from the Truman Foundation will help him make an even bigger impact, and I cannot wait to see all that he accomplishes for our state and beyond.”