Meet UConn’s Truman Scholarship Nominees

Photos of Truman Scholarship Nominees
UConn’s 2024 Truman Scholarship Nominees: Dylan Steer ’25 (CLAS), Alan Cavagnaro ’25 (CLAS), Yana Tartakovskiy ’25 (BUS), Kamara Nyahuma ’25 (CLAS), Krithika Santhanam ’25 (CLAS)


The University of Connecticut has nominated five students for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which is awarded to college juniors with exceptional leadership potential and commitment to a career in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education, or elsewhere in public service. It requires a nomination from UConn in order to enter the competition. Scholars are awarded up to $30,000 to pursue graduate studies, receive pre-professional/graduate advising from the Foundation and are invited to participate in internships and other programs.  Learn more about UConn’s nominees below.


Alan Cavagnaro ’25 (CLAS), from South Windsor, CT, is a junior double-majoring in political science and urban community studies while enrolled in UConn’s SPP Fast-track program. His passion for public service ignited when he decided to run for local office at age 19. As an elected Planning and Zoning Commissioner, he enjoys helping guide the direction of his community, navigating between complex issues of school population, housing affordability, and open space. As the Campaign Coordinator for DesegregateCT, a statewide pro-homes policy nonprofit, Alan invests his time into sustainable land use and affordable housing policy. He played an integral part in getting the Work Live Ride bill through committee in 2023. His work at DesegregateCT also includes leading the candidate and commissioner training program, which saw 79% of attendees win their respective elections. Previously, Alan interned for the Connecticut General Assembly and Housing Committee in 2022 and helped pass the Fair Rent Commission bill through his internship. He also served as Chair of Future Leaders in Politics CT and was able to hold debates and rallies to engage students. After graduation, Alan intends to pursue an MPA with a continued focus on public service to continue his mission of social justice through meaningful policy.


Kamara Nyhauma ’25 (CLAS) is a junior majoring in history with a double minor in English and human development & family sciences (HDFS). Kamara is an involved student on campus, particularly in student government, where she works as the Director of Academic Affairs. She is currently conducting research with Dr. Marketa Burnett on Black family interaction processes and the perseverance of young Black girls in STEM. She also serves as a Floor Mentor for UConn’s newest learning community for young Black women. Upon graduation, Kamara plans to attend law school, after which she intends to pursue a career as a federal defense attorney. Whether through the local, state, or even national service, Kamara is committed to a lifetime of policy advocacy. She is passionate about ensuring that everyone, particularly marginalized groups, is treated fairly and respectfully by the legal system. Kamara believes she has a part to play in creating laws and policies that foster justice for all people. She wants to become a fierce public servant, living up to the meaning of her last name Nyahuma – “a helper of others.”


Krithika Santhanam ’25 (CLAS) is an Honors student double majoring in molecular and cell biology as well as an Individualized major in “health policy and racial disparities.” She is passionate about increasing awareness on the influence of policy on health outcomes, specifically in underserved populations. Through various roles, Krithika shares her authentic experience, hoping to positively influence incoming and first-year students at the university. On campus, she is a tour guide, a Peer Research Ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Research, co-President of Pre-Medical Society, Vice President of the Learning Community Executive Council, a member of the 6th cohort of BOLD Scholars, and a 2024 Leadership Legacy Experience participant. At UConn Health, she conducts cell biology research and volunteers for UConn Health Leaders, a preventative screening program for the Social Determinants of Health project. In the future, she hopes to become a physician and policy advocate to continue her leadership and service efforts.


Dylan Steer ’25 (CLAS) is an Honors student from Stratford majoring environmental studies and political science. Dylan is active in the sustainability space at UConn, serving as Sustainability Intern in the Office of Sustainability since 2023, President of EcoHusky, and co-founder of Fossil Fuel Free UConn. One of five student members of President Radenka Maric’s Carbon Reduction Working Group, Dylan also held a fellowship with SustainableCT in the summer of 2023, during which he worked with municipalities within the Metropolitan Council of Governments, assisting with sustainability programming, certifications, and other initiatives. Born in Ankara, Turkey, Dylan co-founded the Turkish Student Alliance cultural club and served as vice-president. When he’s not busy saving the planet, Dylan enjoys playing board games, thrifting, and watching films.


Yana Tartakovskiy ’25 (BUS) is a junior studying healthcare management, with a minor in political science. A daughter of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Yana is dedicated to highlighting the values of the Jewish community on campus by having served on the executive student board of UConn Hillel, the center for Jewish life on campus. Yana is also heavily involved with a growing chapter of Jewish on Campus at UConn, where Yana advocates on behalf of Jewish students by working with Jewish organizations on campus and the administration to fight rising incidents of antisemitism. Yana hopes to earn a joint J.D. and M.P.H. degree by combining her interests in the legal field and healthcare. Yana discovered her passion for healthcare law when Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022. She is currently researching the effects of this decision after having recently received a UConn IDEA Grant. Yana is also involved with UConn’s Mock Trial Society team, showcasing her dedication for critical thinking and public speaking in the form of arguing as a mock attorney.


Congratulations to all five of UConn’s 2024 Truman Scholarship nominees!