High Honors for Student Achievements
In the course of their explorations, many students show exceptional promise, as demonstrated by the honors and awards they received. A political and social thought major in the College of Arts & Sciences, Laura Nelson was one of just thirty-two students nationwide to win a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, where she plans to study literature. Among her many contributions to the U.Va. community, Ms. Nelson was the driving force behind U.Va.'s innovative "flash seminars." Taking their cue from "flash mobs"—sudden assemblies of people brought together by social media—students organized impromptu lectures,tours, and presentations with faculty members, notifying interested people by e-mail. Past flash seminars included topics such as the photography of Andy Warhol and the politics of food.
Two students, Sarah Munford (College '11) and Robin Kendall (McIntire '11), both global development studies majors, won a Davis Projects for Peace grant, which will enable them to develop a business training curriculum for a trade school associated with the Seeds of Hope orphanage in São Paulo, Brazil. Ms. Munford spent four of her spring breaks working at the Seeds of Hope orphanage, and received a Jefferson Public Citizens grant for a research project with Heifer International in northern Uganda and a Community-Based Undergraduate Research Grant for her work in South Africa. Ms. Kendall received two Jefferson Public Citizens grants, a Community-Based Undergraduate Research Grant, and a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award for a series of projects in Bluefields, Nicaragua.
Other students earning national honors in 2010–11 include Sarah Kim (College '12), Ben Wallace (College '12), and Jira Vinyoopongphan (College '12). Ms. Kim, a biology major, received a Goldwater Scholarship, awarded to students who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. She is researching the effects of aging on plants, which age despite the presence of tissue that functions like stem cells.
Mr. Wallace was selected for a Truman Scholarship, given to students demonstrating leadership potential who are committed to careers in public service. A Jefferson Scholar and an Echols Scholar, he studies "grand strategy" in U.S. public policy. Mr. Wallace plans to pursue a law degree and a master's degree in public policy.
Ms. Vinyoopongphan received a Fulbright-Hays grant from the U.S. Department of Education, a rare achievement for an undergraduate. A double major in foreign affairs and Chinese language and literature, she will use the grant to study for a semester at the East China Normal University in Shanghai.
Two graduating students were singled out for Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards, which are presented to recognize excellence of character and humanitarian service. Ishraga Eltahir, who graduated with degrees in political and social thought and African-American and African studies in the College's Distinguished Major Program, was cochair of the Diversity Initiatives Committee on Student Council and a leader for both the Global Development Organization and the Cultural Programming Board. Civil engineering major Ethan Heil conducted a number of projects overseas, including work on renewable energy technologies for historic workers' houses in Falmouth, Jamaica, and research on ensuring a supply of safe, filtered drinking water in rural South Africa.