Duke Graduate Awarded Knight-Hennessy Scholarship

Niisoja Torto, Class of 2020, will receive full funding to attend Stanford University

Duke Graduate Awarded Knight-Hennessy Scholarship
Niisoja Torto attended Duke as a Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar and graduated summa cum laude with highest distinction

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University alumnus Niisoja Torto, Class of 2020, has been awarded the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship.

The award provides full funding for the graduate program of the student’s choosing at Stanford University.

Torto is part of the fourth group to be awarded the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship at Stanford, and he is the sixth Duke student to win the award.

He will use the scholarship to pursue a medical degree at Stanford School of Medicine.

The scholarship arose out of a gift from Nike founder Phil Knight, who seeks to educate scholars “who can out-think, out-work and out-care others.” 

Torto, from Gainesville, Florida, attended Duke as a Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar and graduated summa cum laude with highest distinction in  2020 with a bachelor’s degree in public policy studies. He hopes to be a community- and policy-oriented physician, partnering with underserved communities to advance health equity and enact policy change.

At Duke, his health advocacy journey took him from rural central Uganda, where he worked alongside community members to develop a sustainable hypertension prevention and monitoring program, to the Department of Nutrition at the World Health Organization in Geneva, where he helped craft global policy guidance in United Nations reports. His research at the interface of food and health has also been published in the BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. Torto is also a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow.

Torto attributes his personal and professional growth to the influences of others.  

“I share this exciting milestone with patients in Durham, community members in Naama, Uganda, colleagues in Geneva, mentors at Duke, neighbors in Gainesville, family, friends and many others -- all of whom have graciously been my teachers and have showed me the power of community,” Torto said. “It's their investment in others that inspires me to use this generous opportunity to dedicate my life to community-driven health equity work."  

Duke students and alumni can receive support for opportunities like the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship from the Nationally Competitive Scholarships team at the Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows.

For more information on the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship, visit https://knight-hennessy.stanford.edu

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