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Ayodele Oti

College: Macaulay Honors College | City College
Awards: Truman Scholarship, 2011

Working for World Health

Ayodele Oti, of Macaulay Honors College at The City College of New York and the CUNY Baccalaureate Program, CUNY's individualized degree, is one of two CUNY juniors in 2011 to win a highly competitive, $30,000 Harry S. Truman Scholarship for graduate study leading to careers in government or public service.

The other is Gareth Rhodes, of The City College of New York and the CUNY Baccalaureate Program, like her an honors student, Colin Powell Fellow and New York Life Scholar.

Each year, the Harry S. Truman Foundation, funded by Congress, awards one grant in each state plus 15 at-large; this year, the foundation received 602 applications from 264 colleges and universities, selected 197 candidates from 134 colleges and universities as finalists then selected the 65 finalists after personal interviews. Selection is based on a combination of career and graduate study interests, community service and academic achievement.

Oti is majoring in international studies and focusing on sustainable development and environmental public health. This spring, she is in Costa Rica, studying Spanish, tropical marine biology and Latin America under a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Her career goal is to advise governments in developing countries about public health programs, particularly to improve maternal and child health.

"Ayo is an extraordinary young woman who lives the Macaulay mission - seeking knowledge and experience that will help her meet the world's great challenges," says Ann Kirschner, university dean of Macaulay Honors College. "Ayo is the fifth Truman Scholar in Macaulay's brief, ten-year history, and we share in her family's pride in her accomplishments."

"I am excited to be one of the representatives from City College, and I look forward to all the opportunities being a Truman Scholar will afford me," says Oti, who has a 3.94 GPA. "But most of all, I am thankful for all of the people who have helped me get this far."

Born in Tallahassee, Fla., she entered City College on a scholarship from the Macaulay Honors College. Her public service interest was evident from her freshman year, when she was one of 48 participants in a Harvard Kennedy School of Government Public Policy and Leadership Conference. She later did a summer internship in Washington, through CCNY's Rosenberg/Humphrey Program in Public Policy.

Her interest in historical ecology took her to the Caribbean island of Barbuda in January 2010 and Iceland in July 2010, the latter with support from a National Science Foundation grant to participate in an archaeology field school. She also is a Rangel Scholar, Goldsmith Scholar, Lisa Goldberg/Revson Scholar and Starr Scholar.

"As a student who is interested in the environment, particularly with regard to sustainable development and public health, I wanted to explore past human-environment interactions to see what lessons I could possibly learn to help with the future," says Oti, the daughter of a Nigerian father and American mother. Her career goal is to work for a nonprofit dealing with international development in Latin America or Africa.