LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has awarded 13 students with honors that recognize community engagement, leadership and academics.
Issued by the Board of Class Officers, the Campanile Award is given to a single graduating senior who has displayed remarkable leadership, character and respect for KU.
Ahmad Baset Azizi is a senior from Kabul, Afghanistan, majoring in political science, global & international studies and music and minoring in Middle East studies and intelligence & national security studies.
“I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to receive three degrees at the University of Kansas,” Azizi said. “My education and leadership experiences at the University of Kansas enabled me to nurture qualities and gain skills that helped me get out in the real world and work in nonprofits, local, state and federal levels of government to make a difference in our world.
“The research and intelligence & national security program helped me to learn how to put the pieces of a complex puzzle together and make calculated decisions in crisis situations. I am convinced that my education at the University of Kansas contributed to helping save lives in Kabul during the U.S. evacuation process from Afghanistan in August 2021. For that, I will always be grateful and proud to call myself a Jayhawk.”
The University Awards, among the most prestigious awards presented at KU, were established to recognize students who embody service excellence, dedication or whose academic achievements are stellar.
Class of 1913 Awards
These annual awards go to two graduating students who show evidence of intelligence, devotion to studies, personal character and promise of usefulness to society.
Emma Cosner is a senior from Overland Park majoring in chemistry and minoring in physics.
“Over these last four years I've grown into a woman I'm proud of and a woman who would have inspired my younger self,” Cosner said. “I wouldn't be where I am without the incredible mentorship of James Blakemore and Julie Leseberg, the instruction of my professors and the support of my friends.
“KU has an incredible undergraduate research program. Joining the Blakemore Lab to pursue inorganic chemistry research was the best choice I've ever made and has propelled me into a career in science. I am ecstatic to continue my research at graduate school this fall.”
Marc Mendel is a senior from New York City majoring in finance and minoring in entrepreneurship.
“The University of Kansas has been a transformative experience in my life,” Mendel said. “I want to thank my family, friends, professors, advisers and mentors over the past four years who have pushed me and molded me into the person I have become.
“As the Class of ’22 walks down Mount Oread into their own, unique paths, I urge my fellow Jayhawks to use the values and skills we have developed to consider their purpose, mission and legacy to lift society, just as I continue to accomplish through financial literacy.”
The Donald K. Alderson Memorial Award
The award goes to a graduating senior who has demonstrated loyalty to and interest in the university and who has been active in events and services that benefit other students. This award was established in memory of Alderson, former dean of men and dean of student services.
Andrew Moore is a senior from Prairie Village majoring in accounting and minoring in Spanish and business analytics.
“The University of Kansas has given me the best four years I could have ever imagined, and I hope that in some way I carried it forward and helped other people have an amazing experience as well,” Moore said. “I am honored to receive the Donald K. Alderson Memorial Award and am inspired to continue serving the university as an alumnus.”
The Alexis F. Dillard Student Involvement Award
This award goes to two graduating students who have unselfishly contributed to the university through campus involvement. It was established in 1993 by Dillard’s family and friends to remember and honor him.
Bhroovi Gupta is a senior from Mumbai, India, majoring in visual communication-graphic design and minoring in business entrepreneurship.
“Not only was I honored to be a part of the highly recognized design department at KU, I also had the opportunity to work on multiple projects like KU commencements, orientation and multiple admissions projects with the fantastic Marketing Communications team of the university,” Gupta said. “To see my design printed in thousands of copies and being distributed around the state as the chancellor’s annual holiday card was definitely a highlight of my career.
“Outside of class, while contributing as the president of the KU Association of Indian Students and the cultural chair of the KU International Student Association, I realized the importance of learning from the people around and growing together as a community. Both experiences have helped me develop leadership skills and an overall holistic personality that prepares me for the future ahead.”
Ellen Vandewater is a senior from Wildwood, Missouri, majoring in computer science.
“My connections, experiences and skills I have gained through my involvement at KU are invaluable to me,” Vandewater said. “Being able to be a part of such an open and welcoming community gave me such an amazing opportunity to grow and experience life in a way you can’t learn in just a classroom. I hope that I gave back to the community as much joy as it has given me.”
The Rusty Leffel Concerned Student Award
This award annually goes to students who demonstrate a concern for furthering the ideals of the university and higher education. The award was established by a group of seniors in 1973 to honor their fellow student, Leffel.
Melek Ben-Ayed is a senior from Sfax, Tunisia, majoring in mechanical engineering.
"I am honored to be recognized for this award as it embodies what I strive for daily: making a difference,” Ben-Ayed said.
“I hope that the initiatives that I worked on at KU are continued onwards for years to come."
Nathan Do is a junior from Wichita majoring in biochemistry and minoring in Spanish.
“My time at KU has been immensely rewarding so far, primarily from the incredible communities I've immersed myself in,” Do said. “I believe much of the passion instilled in me was cultivated by my involvement with several student organizations, ultimately teaching me the importance of community engagement and uplifting others, which I hope to carry with me throughout my future.
“I want to thank my peers and mentors throughout my college journey and look forward to another fruitful year of growth and learning here at KU.”
Emily Hull is a senior from Eudora majoring in business analytics and information systems.
“I am so happy to receive this University Award knowing that I have made a lasting impact on my campus and Lawrence community,” Hull said. “My lasting goal throughout my time at KU has been to inspire fellow students to get involved and give back to their communities, so I consider this award to be goal accomplished. I can't wait to continue this personal mission beyond KU after graduation.”
The Caryl K. Smith Student Leader Award
This award goes to a graduating sorority or fraternity member who has demonstrated commitment to the local chapter, the KU sorority and fraternity community, the university and the Lawrence community. It was established in 1993 to honor Smith, a former dean of student life.
Brenne Ernst is a senior from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, majoring in biochemistry and minoring in business.
“Coming to the University of Kansas as an out-of-state student, I promised myself I would take every opportunity to be involved, form friendships and excel to the best of my ability," Ernst said. "I did that by stepping into the role of Panhellenic Association president as a sophomore. This position brought personal and professional connections, transformative experiences and some of my favorite college memories.
"My remaining time as a Jayhawk was spent continuing to develop my leadership abilities, contributing to the Chi Omega sorority and appreciating the life I have come to know and love in Lawrence, Kansas. I hope to leave a strong legacy of female leadership, and I look forward to proudly representing KU as an alumna."
The Kathryn Nemeth Tuttle Student Scholar Award
This award is presented to a graduating senior scholarship hall student. Recipients have demonstrated academic focus, leadership in the scholarship hall and also commitment to the KU and Lawrence communities.
Phuong Truong is a senior from Can Tho, Vietnam, majoring in supply chain management and in business analytics.
“My sincerest gratitude to my family, mentors, friends, our community and the unnamed who have been there to give me their encouragement, support and mentorship," Truong said. "Sellards (Scholarship Hall) has been my second home, where I can be myself. I adore the times that I can share ideas and work with others, who are also driven to make profound changes to our community every day.
"Being at KU is never lonely. When you’re there for the community, they will be there for you."
The Agnes Wright Strickland Awards
These awards were established in 1953 in memory of Strickland, a member of the Class of 1887. They go annually to graduating seniors in recognition of their academic records, demonstrated leadership in matters of university concern, respect among fellow students and indications of future dedication to service in the university.
Radhia Abdirahman is a senior from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, majoring in human biology, applied behavioral science and global & international studies and minoring in African & African diasporic languages.
"Since I was young, I've observed my family members selflessly give back to their community, and I believe, without a doubt, that they have subconsciously inspired me to do the work that I do,” Abdirahman said. “Service and community engagement have been a cornerstone of the work I've enjoyed thus far and what I hope to pursue after KU.
“I would like to extend a massive thank-you to my professors and mentors for supporting and encouraging me to think creatively to find ways to center my work around social justice and advocating for those in need. I would also like to thank my peers and those I've been fortunate enough to engage with for continuously inspiring me and pushing me to find ways to be a better leader and friend.”
Brian Madrigal is a senior from Emporia majoring in accounting.
“I don't think I could accept any recognition for any award without acknowledging the time, energy and faith that my family, friends and mentors have given me,” Madrigal said. “Above all, I'd like to thank my mom and dad for all they've sacrificed for me to be where I am today.
“During my time at KU, I've dedicated myself to trying to foster a community on campus that 18-year-old Brian needed when he first stepped foot on campus. These last four years have been copious with hardships and unprecedented challenges for everybody; however, if there is one takeaway I'd like to share, it would be to find a specific future that will help you justify your past and present.”