Liana Keesing, MS candidate, named 2022 Truman Scholar
Truman Scholarships provide support to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in public service.
Congratulations to Liana Keesing, EE MS candidate, 2022 Truman Scholar!
Liana Keesing was born in Suva, Fiji and grew up in McLean, Virginia. She is an electrical engineering major and coterminal master’s student in electrical engineering, as well as an honors student in ethics in society. Keesing plans to pursue a doctoral degree in computer science with a focus on the intersection of emerging technologies and democratic governance.
Keesing sees this award as a reflection of the support she has received throughout her life.
“Public service should be motivated by a deep and abiding concern for other people,” she said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have so many role models for that kind of love.”
At the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Keesing served on the student government executive committee and the honor council, where she used her expertise as a Licensed Restorative Justice Facilitator to help rewrite the school’s honor code. Her senior research project in the Automation and Robotics Research Lab proposed a new, open-source voting machine design for use in public elections.
Liana also served as a page in the Virginia State Senate and went on to use her background in technology and public policy as a volunteer for several political campaigns, including working her way up from intern to operations assistant for a delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates.
On campus, Keesing co-directed StanfordVotes, a student-led, nonpartisan group established in 2020 to increase voter turnout campus-wide. She led the group’s digital strategy team in creating a resource-rich website and robust social media campaign, addressing the complications of voting during a pandemic by developing a system that created a personalized plan for students to vote. The campaign resulted in Stanford being the top college in the nation for registered students on TurboVote, with 91 percent of Stanford TurboVote users voting in the 2020 election.
Based on this success, Liana was invited to co-chair the Resources and Support Subcommittee of Students Learn Students Vote, a national, nonpartisan network of student groups working to increase voter participation.
As a student-athlete, when Stanford’s fencing program was among 11 varsity sports discontinued in 2020, Keesing took a leadership role in the response that led to a reinstatement of the program and a higher level of transparency for Title IX data reporting. She now serves as the captain of the women’s fencing team. She continues her efforts to advocate for female athletes in the Western United States as a Stanford representative for the Pacific-12 Conference and the vice president for external affairs for Stanford’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council.
Despite her accomplishments, Keesing’s path has not always been smooth. A series of ongoing health struggles that started before freshman year and have included injuries from a serious car accident have had a significant influence on her life and how she views service.
“I learned to advocate for my needs and ask for help without the validation of a visible challenge,” she said. “I also learned how difficult that can be and gained empathy for the invisible struggles that shape the lives of those around me.”
In the future, Keesing plans to focus on the startup she co-founded, Offset AI. Originally a collaboration with the Army Research Lab to develop AI-enabled sensor systems, they currently work with farmers on precision agriculture. Keesing’s long-term goal is to work on the government side of public technology innovation to support solutions to problems affecting democracy.
“I’ve always been dedicated to public service, but as an engineer by training, the pathway to that was cloudy,” she said. “Applying for the Truman Scholarship helped me to solidify that dream and gave me confidence in my ability to serve as a leader in both technical and policy spaces.”
Please join us in congratulating Liana and Avi Gupta, Stanford’s 2022 Truman Scholars.