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Meet the Temple student who is the 6th Truman Scholarship recipient in university history

Exclusive: Student becomes 6th person in Temple University history to receive Truman Scholarship
Exclusive: Student becomes 6th person in Temple University history to receive Truman Scholarship 02:11

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A student at Temple University has become the sixth person in the school's history to receive a prestigious public service scholarship. Ray Epstein can now add Truman Scholar to her list of achievements.

"There's so much more in reach now than there was before," Epstein said.

She's one of about 60 students nationwide who were honored with a $30,000 scholarship from the Harry S. Truman Foundation.

Hundreds apply, but only the top students are awarded the designation for their potential in public service.

"It's a huge financial relief for a pursuit of a graduate career," she said. "I'm very, very grateful."

The 21-year-old is majoring in English, Communications and Social Influence at Temple.

Aside from studying, she's also running for student body president, leading a sexual assault advocacy group on campus and fighting for survivors like herself.

"I was abused by a classmate when I was in middle school and forced to finish 8th grade at home by my school," Epstein said. "My mom wanted me to channel that energy and all of that free time into something impactful."

She's now a student activist. Her experience directly translated to her scholarship application which included a policy proposal.

"You pick a policy that's relevant to your future and kind of your niche area of interest and for me, that's sexual assault prevention," Epstein said.

According to Epstein, the application process took about five months and involved her writing 10 essays before being asked to participate in a long interview process in Washington, D.C.

"It was the most intense interview of my life," she said.

Her public speaking instructor John Matthews helped her prepare for it.

"She put her heart and soul into this," Temple Adjunct Instructor Matthews said. "And it was gratifying to see someone who cares so much about a topic get recognized."

"He really taught me how to be authentic to myself and how to be confident," Epstein said.

She's hoping to take that confidence with her to law school and continue fighting for sexual assault survivors.

"I am exactly where I should be and I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing," Epstein said.

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