Undergrads Win Fulbrights, Leadership Awards, and More

Undergrads Win Fulbrights, Leadership Awards, and More

leadership-award.jpgBrad Wadle (left) congratulates leadership award winners Eman Kasha Akhtar and MSHE's Chris Cvikota.Eman Kasha Akhtar, who majored in social policy and statistics, received the School of Education and Social Policy's Outstanding Leadership Award for her tireless support of first-generation students.

Akhtar, the first in her family to attend college, served as the community co-president of QUEST+, Northwestern's first-generation and low-income student advocacy organization.

“From the first day I met Kasha, her commitment to the first-generation community at Northwestern, maturity, and intellect made her stand out,” wrote nominator Sharitza Rivera, senior director of student enrichment services.

“During the pandemic, she sent the incoming students quarterly care packages, hosted virtual bi-weekly check-ins, and held in-person dinners once they were on campus.” This alone sparked an increase in applications to join the executive board and greater retention, Rivera said. “At a time when isolation and apathy were rampant, Kasha innovated and created community.”

Aktar calls herself an “aspiring” researcher, but she is already well on her way, having worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Policy Research. She’s passionate about about K-12 and higher education policy, welfare and economic policy, and believes mixed methods research –– both quantitative and qualitative –– techniques are needed to “work towards including voices and numbers to create real change where it matters.” Ultimately, she hopes to pursue her doctorate and conduct research in  academia or at a non-profit.

Akhtar was one of dozens of SESP undergraduates who received awards and accolades this year. Read about more of our outstanding students in our annual round up.

abouzaglo_maayan_400.jpgMaayan Abouzaglo, (left) who studied social policy, Middle East and North African Studies and legal studies, is a finalist for the Fulbright US Student Program, which supports a year of study, research, or projects in the creative or performing arts or teaching in more than 155 countries worldwide. In 2022, she received the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation College Scholarship.

Kaylyn Ahn, who is studying social policy and legal studies, won a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which funds US undergraduates for study abroad. Ahn also received first place for her poster presentation at the Office of Undergraduate Research Awards Expo.

Ryley Boddeker-O’Connor received a Project Horseshoe Farm Community Health Fellowship, which prepares service leaders in health care and education. She’ll be based at the Marion, Alabama site.

James Chumbley advanced to the second round of the NCAA Wrestling championships in Tulsa in the 157-pound division. Teammates Chris Cannon and Maxx Mayfield competed in the first round of the NCAA Wrestling championships in Tulsa. The best news? They’ll be back next year.

cusick-400.jpgJunior Donovan Cusick (left), co-president of Associated Student Government, presented the University seal during Michael Schill’s inauguration ceremony.

Chase Audige, Robbie Beran, and Boo Buie, all studying learning and organizational change, were profiled in a Chicago Tribune story about friendship, leadership and basketball. And when Beran tells the reporter “I've seen a lot", he's not just talking about basketball or school. "I’m talking about the whole complete journey,” he said. "The places that this institution has brought me and the people that they’ve connected me with, I’ll be forever grateful."

Meanwhile the men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second time in school history. SESP’’s own Fab Five included Audige, Ty Berry, Beran, Buie, and Julian Roper.

lacross400.jpgNorthwestern's women's lacrosse team romped to an 18-6 win over Boston College to win the 2023 NCAA National Championship. SESP scholar athletes include: Maddy Balter, Allie Berkery (BS22), Carli Fleisher, Kendall Halpern, Eve Hritzuk, Hannah Johnson, Carleigh Mahoney, Megan Mallgrave, Kiera Shanley, Claire Snyder, and first-year Madison Taylor. And yes, the story is true! Last year as a high school senior, Taylor saw the 'Cats fall in the semi-finals and told her mom, "I can help that team." In the championship, she found the back of the net four times and was named all-tournament.

Chelsea Jennayah Angwenyi, a rising senior, will participate in the Fulbright-Hays Swahili Group Project Abroad in Kenya, an 8-week intensive language and cultural experience. She’s studying social policy, legal studies and data science.

Michaiah Lynette Ligon received a Projects for Peace Fellowship, which supports undergraduates who develop and implement summer projects that promote peace. She plans to install two new community fridges in her hometown of Detroit, and start a community garden to keep them stocked with organic fruits and vegetables. Ligon is double majoring in learning and organizational change and psychology and minoring in global health.

Anahi Marquez, who studied social policy, political science and Spanish, received a James Dunn Fellowship. Beginning in August, she’ll be working with Illinois Deputy Governor Sol Flores and assisting the health and human services team. 

walcott_400.jpgLauren Walcott, (left) a rising senior studying social policy, will join the Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute Fellowship Program, a rigorous academic graduate level preparation program for undergraduate juniors interested in public service careers. Walcott will study at the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Jacob Geil and Djamila Oumarou served as convocation co-chairs.

As juniors, Ty Berry and Cam Porter received the prestigious Irving Kabiller Memorial Award which provided an all-expenses paid professional development experience within their areas of interest.

Ryley Boddeker-O’Connor, Erica Catherine Davis, Han Sol Lee, Kwan Yi Chloe Lim and Kenzie Berryman Misso earned certificates in civic engagement.

Arthur Lebovitz (Cats who Compost) and Emily Lester (Campus Kitchen) won Wildcat Impact Awards. Lebovitz was honored for his composting work. Lester stood out for her efforts in reducing food insecurity. Lester, co-president of Campus Kitchen, first found Northwestern University as a seventh grader through SESP's Center for Talent Development program.

Aimee Resnick and Lauren Black were among ten Northwestern University students named to the 2023 Clinton Global Initiative University cohort of young leaders working to address global challenges.

Graduating seniors who participated in the SESP Leadership Institute include: Nala Bishop, Citlalli Cazales, Djamila Oumarou, Gerardo Rodriguez, Kaitlin Shaw, Brandon Jones, Yun Lee, Bryan Sanchez, Crystal Tang, Anahi Marquez, Melissa Megala, Grace Park, Valeria Rodriguez, and Gift Chujor.

Seniors who successfully completed SESP’s honors thesis program include Maayan Abouzaglo, Ryley Boddeker-O’Connor, Kathryn Bowman, Joselyn A. Chavez, Julia Ellis, Owen P. Elton, Jacob Geil, Jackson Hugill and Joanna Tasch.

Students who completed Civic Engagement Certificate Capstone projects include: Nala Bishop, Lauren Black, Jasmin Flores, Ryley Boddeker-O’Connor, Han Li, Kwan Lim, and Kenzi Misso.

Oral presenters at the Undergraduate Research & Arts Expo included Maayan Abouzaglo, Kate Bowman and Jake Geil. SESP students who participated in the poster session included Kaylyn Ahn (winner of best overall poster), Julia Ellis, Lillian Fu, Sydney Goldstein, Kathyayini Mendu, and Joanna Tasch.

Academic Year Undergraduate Research Assistant Program winners: Katherine Rooney (Yang Qu), Gracie Schecter (Cynthia Coburn), Zoe Lewis (Mesmin Destin), Hana-Lei Ji (Meaghan Fritz and Lisa del Torto).

Maayan Abouzaglo, Jake Geil, Tea Baum, Joselyn Chavez, Lillian Fu and Julia Ellis received Academic Year Undergraduate Research grants, which provide research expense funding to support senior thesis and independent study courses.

To be added to this list, email Julie Deardorff with updates.

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 6/26/23