An undergraduate student at New York University Abu Dhabi has won the prestigious Harry S Truman Scholarship worth $30,000.
Tatyana Brown, 21, who studies social research and public policy, is the second candidate at NYUAD to secure this scholarship in the past eight years.
The African-American is one of the 62 students from 51 institutions who have been selected as 2021 Truman Scholars.
The Truman Scholarship is a highly competitive and prestigious grant for college juniors who have outstanding leadership potential and wish to pursue careers in public service.
Ms Brown worked on her application for a year and was one of the 845 candidates nominated by 328 higher education institutions across the world.
The scholarship will help Ms Brown to pursue her master’s in African studies, gender studies, or social work in the US or the UK.
“I feel really supported and that’s a great feeling," Ms Brown said.
“In my life, black women and gender-marginalised people have looked out for me, and I want to pay that forward.
“I want to attend graduate school and study black feminism, read poetry and history about black women and marginalised people.
“Through the scholarship, I will have access to a network of scholars.
"It is a chance for me to meet people who have been doing different kinds of work."
Ms Brown will get the chance to be a part of the Truman Scholars Leadership Week where she can listen to talks and engage in challenges with fellow scholars.
She aims to intern with the Washington Summer Institute that is organised by the Truman Foundation. She also plans to join a black feminist non-profit to work on improving the lives of black mothers and caregivers.
Ms Brown moved to the UAE from the US when she was 18, and has since been involved and led numerous initiatives in the UAE.
She cofounded Aziza, a community network for black women in Abu Dhabi, that aims to empower, inform and connect them.
The group organised iftars and cookouts where people could meet, play games, and get to know each other.
“When I was growing up, I would always ask myself, why is it that some people are deserving of housing and security, and others are not?" she said.
"These women were the most vulnerable to systemic injustice and harm."
The student wishes to work on subjects such as race, gender, and mutual aid projects.
In mutual aid systems, people work together to help each other. They are different from charities, which form a one-way relationship between an organisation or philanthropist and the recipients.
"I feel like coming to Abu Dhabi has taught me a lot of what global solidarity can look like," Ms Brown said.
Former US president Harry S Truman wanted to support public service champions and promote youth leaders.
After his death, his friends and family set up the The Truman Foundation which awards the Truman Scholarship to students.
Each Truman Scholar receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counselling, special internship and fellowship opportunities within the US federal government or in community serving organisations.
Ms Brown's ambition is to use her travels to connect various mutual aid organisations in the world and build a global network to uplift black women and gender marginalised people.
She wishes to use art, healing, and people-powered projects to inspire global political consciousness.