Junior Krishnan awarded Truman Scholarship

Krishnan is committed to promoting national security while protecting human rights

Junior Nidhi Krishnan wants to use her skills in quantitative analysis and her knowledge of Arabic to improve lives of people in the Middle East. (Photo: Joe Angeles/Washington University)

Washington University in St. Louis junior Nidhi Krishnan, an ROTC cadet in the Gateway Battalion and an Ervin Scholar, has been awarded a Truman Scholarship, the prestigious graduate fellowship in the United States for those pursuing careers in public service. 

A champion of social justice and human rights, Krishnan, of Bloomington, Ind., is majoring in American culture studies, with a concentration in foreign relations, and in mathematics in Arts & Sciences. She will receive up to $30,000 for her graduate education as well as leadership development and internship opportunities.

After completing  her military service, Krishan plans to attend Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies to study the Middle East. Ultimately, she hopes to become a State Department economic foreign service officer in an embassy in the region, using her skills in quantitative analysis and her knowledge of Arabic to improve the lives of Middle Eastern civilians, especially those in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Regional stability abroad not only improves the quality of lives of civilians in foreign countries, but it also advances key American interests,” Krishnan wrote in her application to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. “Through my leadership as a Foreign Service Officer, I hope to inspire my colleagues to rethink conceptions of national security beyond purely U.S. gains. Instead of viewing global relations as a zero-sum game, I plan to approach my work through diplomacy and mutual cooperation as this is the mindset needed to tackle the pressing global issues of our time and protect humankind throughout the world.” 

Capt. Beverly Wagner, adviser at Washington University’s Office of Military & Veteran Services, called Krishnan a natural leader who takes the long view.  

“Whether it be the slow work of learning a language to become a more empathetic and culturally aware officer or asking probing questions at a meeting to explore how our battalion can better conduct sexual harassment training, Nidhi cares more about sustained work than immediate recognition,” Wagner wrote in her recommendation. 

At Washington University, Krishnan is a member of the Admissions and Aid Student Advisory Board and the Student Conduct Board. She also has served local social justice organizations, including Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression, WEPOWER STL, ArchCity Defenders and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri. 

In 2020, Krishnan was named a Newman Civic Fellow. And in 2021, she received the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement’s Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award, which honors members of the university community who positively impact St. Louis.

Susan Craig, a career consultant in the Career Center and an adjunct instructor for the graduate program in international studies at University College, said Krishnan’s strong moral compass, experience in the military and genuine care for others has prepared her to address some of globe’s most daunting challenges.

“Nidhi can operate comfortably in female- and male-dominated spaces and in both progressive and conservative circles,” Craig wrote. “She is committed to both humanitarian causes and national security, domestic policy and foreign affairs. She is nimble and adaptable and has the intellectual acumen, personal fortitude and commitment to service that is the hallmark of Truman Scholars.”

The 62 new Truman Scholars were selected from 705 candidates nominated by 275 colleges and universities. Recent Washington University Truman Scholars are Ranen Miao (2022) and Zach Eisner and Max Klapow (2020). 

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