International Achievement Luncheon

The International Achievement Luncheon celebrates the accomplishments of Case Western Reserve University's students, faculty and staff in contributing to the university's internationalization.

The event features the Global Citizen Awards, which honor outstanding individuals and organizations on campus, and unveils the winners of the annual Study Abroad Photo Contest. You can view previous years' winners below!

The International Achievement Luncheon is held annually during the spring semester. It is by invitation only. 

A photo of all of the honorees at the 2019 International Achievement Luncheon

The Center for International Affairs' Global Citizen Awards recognize students, faculty or staff, student organizations and campus offices that enhance the international student experience, promote a sense of community at Case Western Reserve University and exemplify the university's values of inclusion and diversity.

Watch the 2020 Global Citizen Awards Ceremony

A picture of Kai Wang sitting down, looking at the camera

Spirit of Service Award: Kai Wang 

Spirit of Service honors a student who has served the campus community with vigor, devotion, and an unshakable positive attitude. This student has an inspirational and infectious optimism, nurtures an appreciation of diversity, and creates awareness of our responsibilities as global citizens through extraordinary service to the university. 

As part of her involvement with the Graduate Council of Arts and Sciences, Kai took on the role of lead communicator on behalf of the students of the College of Arts and Sciences in the vote pertaining to RTA passes. It was a challenging issue, but she worked tirelessly to represent her college and her constituents. In addition to her service in student government, she has served our international student community through the International Student Fellowship. She organized key events like their annual furniture giveaway, coordinated weekly meetings and gatherings for students, and helped integrate new students into the Case Western Reserve community. Off campus, she has volunteered at nearby schools to teach children to enjoy studying science, and has facilitated partnerships between Case Western Reserve students and students at neighboring universities. 

A picture of Fabiana standing outside in front of a tree

Unsung Champion Award: Fabiana Irigoyen Jimenez

The Unsung Champion Award is presented to a student who has been involved on campus but has not necessarily held formal leadership positions. Unsung champions take on tasks they see needing to be done without being asked, and they serve fellow students in positive ways, enhancing the international student experience. 

Fabiana has opened up many channels for international students to be able to speak their minds, voice their concerns, and receive the support they need. In the past year, through her work at the Office of Multicultural Affairs, this student created and organized a discussion group for international students to come and share their experiences, which has now begun a transition to using the Sustained Dialogue model to learn what students’ needs are and to create an actionable plan for addressing those needs. Fabiana shares her own insights and experiences with others and creates space for others to share theirs. She pays attention to world events, asks good questions, and makes sure those around her stay well-informed. And, in addition to her work amplifying the voices of our international students, she also volunteers at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

Outstanding Student Organization Award: International Club

The officers of International Club stand outside on the steps of the Cleveland Art Museum

The Outstanding Student Organization award goes to a university-recognized group that has gone above and beyond a focus on their own membership to create a positive campus environment for everyone. These organizations value cultural diversity and make it an integral part of what they do at Case Western Reserve.

For many years, International Club has set a standard “above and beyond” what any other student organization does to welcome students of all backgrounds to campus. They start each year with a welcome letter to students, connect with them at the Student Activities Fair, have their own mentor/mentee partnerships to support new students, and sustain these relationships through the transition back to class each Fall. They work with the Center for International Affairs to cross-promote and co-sponsor events, making sure all of their members know of the many resources available to them. Additionally, members of this organization’s executive team are faithful to answer emails in a timely fashion, reliable to fulfill all of their obligations, are our “go-to” students when we need insight on how our students are doing and can be counted on to represent Case Western Reserve with poise and maturity. In the Spring of 2019, we co-sponsored and co-hosted our first Career Preparation Etiquette Dinner – to help international students successfully prepare for networking events, job interviews and career opportunities that involve a meal. Without their support, the etiquette dinner would not have been nearly as successful, and we are grateful for all this organization has done throughout our partnership with them. 

Outstanding Partner in Collaboration Award: University Health and Counseling Services

The Outstanding Partner in Collaboration Award goes to a campus partner that has successfully worked with the Center for International Affairs on programming and events, collaboration on projects, and other work which has benefited the international student community and internationalization efforts. 

The staff of University Health and Counseling Services work tirelessly to support Case Western Reserve’s international students and has established a partnership of trust, mutual understanding, and mutual support with the Center for International Affairs. They frequently work one-on-one with members of our staff to ensure they provide support to students which is culturally relevant and meet students “right where they are”.  They are thoughtful, interested, and always open to learning more. They also make themselves available to consult on challenges our staff is facing and to provide support whenever and however it is needed. They also take great care in preparing all of our study abroad students to overcome any challenges they may face overseas. Staff members prepare information on the health and safety considerations for every country students are planning to visit, including explanations about vaccinations, medications, and common travel ailments and how to plan ahead to avoid lapses in medical care. The staff go to the same extensive lengths when preparing study abroad students for overcoming mental healthcare challenges, as well. Last Fall, they worked with our office to plan a training on supporting international students’ mental health. Together, we received a grant to fund this “first annual” event, and we were able to welcome a nationally-known expert in international student mental health to campus in January 2020. Together, we have worked to provide our students and staff with excellent support and guidance, and to create a healthier international community here at Case Western Reserve.

Sharan stands facing the camera inside a greenhouse filled with flowers

Laurie D. Zelman International Undergraduate Student Award: Sharan Mehta

The Laurie D. Zelman International Undergraduate Student award is presented to a student who helps to create an inclusive community, encourages understanding among people of different cultures, is involved in positive work on campus, and helps others achieve their potential.

Sharan has worked on multiple successful initiatives throughout the campus that have served to support underrepresented students as well as the undergraduate student body as a whole. Through his work on Undergraduate Student Governments' (USG) Student Life Committee, he has worked with First-Year Experience to provide students with a safe, welcoming environment during the critical first year of life on campus. He also established the food subcommittee where he helped increase the number of vegetarian and vegan options available in dining halls throughout campus and to open Tomlinson Café for regular swipes. In his role on the USG’s Diversity and Inclusion committee, he worked with the Office of Disability Resources and University Housing on improving the mobility accessibility in the North Village, making sure students of all abilities would be able to live comfortably and access their residence halls. His work has truly helped “create an inclusive community” on the Case Western Reserve campus. One of his nominators wrote that this student is working on a very special project through USG, to create a physical resource center that would accept donations from Case Western Reserve students and allow any student to take any item for free. This would help students with financial hardships get the items they need. 

International Leader Award: Dr. Andrew Rollins

Dr. Andrew Rollins stands facing the camera with his arms crossed in front of a background of windows

This is the first year for our International Leader Award. It honors a faculty or staff member who embodies what it means to be a global citizen at Case Western Reserve and serves as an inspiration for others. This person champions internationalization on campus through exemplary efforts to promote an inclusive culture of global citizenship by creating opportunities for students to broaden their world view, and encouraging cross-cultural understanding. 

Dr. Rollins is faculty member who clearly exemplifies a global citizen. He consistently works to provide his students with opportunities to extend their experiences beyond the classroom - both locally and internationally. He makes special efforts to reach out to support student groups and encourage them to travel and experience other cultures. Dr. Rollins is one of the faculty members who began the interdisciplinary Global Health Design study abroad course at Case Western Reserve which takes students to Uganda during spring break to help design and implement sustainable solutions to specific health issues in the country. His nominator works with him in this interdisciplinary collaboration between Biomedical Engineering and Anthropology and says he sets an example for his students by engaging in deep, academically meaningful cross-cultural thinking. He maintains professional relationships with colleagues in other countries and encourages his students to develop and cultivate collaborations with students in other countries. His nominator says Dr. Rollins expends a great amount of time advocating for international, cross-cultural experiences for students, including efforts to increase availability and equity in opportunities, and he is a faculty leader in the promotion of international education at Case Western Reserve. We are very grateful for his exceptional efforts and the incredible example he sets for our students.

Elise Lindsay International Graduate Student Award: Vivek Saraswat

The Elise Lindsay International Graduate Student Award is given in remembrance of a former director of International Student Services, who loved Case Western Reserve’s international students. She recognized their talent, saw their courage, and believed they could and would change the world for the better. With this award, we honor a student who has exemplified the qualities of talent, perseverance, courage, and a desire to make the world a better place through inclusion, research, teaching, care for others, or betterment of the university community. 

Vivek sits facing the camera, smiling, in front of a gray background

Vivek has worked to welcome students from his home country, helped undergraduate students learn through teaching and providing extra guidance, befriended and included teammates, and generally been kind, encouraging, and thoughtful in every aspect of his work and life at the university. He goes above and beyond in his teaching. One nominator wrote that he, “demonstrates care and passion for his work.” He is forward-thinking and always looking for new ideas to help others learn. Vivek's students describe him as the type of teacher who goes beyond simply showing the steps to explaining why each step is necessary and the principles behind each experiment. One wrote, “I am confident in my chemistry lab techniques thanks to [him].”  As a member of the Cycling Club, when this student faced a setback to his athletic pursuits, he sought out guidance on how to heal and become an even stronger cyclist. His teammates write that he “…demonstrates the kind of attitude needed to be a successful, self-starting student-athlete.” And when a new member of the club was feeling awkward and left out, he befriended them and made them feel part of the team. Vivek also serves students new to Case Western Reserve through the graduate student organization Satrang. He has picked up students from the airport, helped them find apartments, and introduced them to life at Case Western Reserve. When new students face anxiety and discouragement being in a new place, this student extends the helping hand of friendship. “…it was [he] who gave me the comfort of home, helping me overcome my anxiety and encourage me to move forward,” wrote one nominator. A real gem who is intelligent and very down to earth.” 
 

The Study Abroad Photo Contest features submissions from Case Western Reserve study abroad students' experiences around the world. These photos help the Center for International Affairs and its Office of Education Abroad show other students what studying abroad looks like to get them interested and excited about the opportunity to learn in another country.

Scenery - Divya Jasthi

A flamingo drinks from a body of water at sunrise

“Salar de Atacama”

The photo features a flamingo at sunset in the salt flats of the Atacama Desert in Antofagasta, Chile. Divya is enrolled in a dual degree program and will be receiving both her master’s of public health and her undergraduate degree in Biology, specializing in pre-health with a Spanish minor, in May 2020. She studied abroad in Chile on a health studies program with our partner IES Abroad in the Summer of 2019.

Spartans Abroad - Kayele Silue

A female CWRU student stands with her back turned to the camera wearing a CWRU study abroad tee shirt

“Spartan in Sharjah!”

Kayele is featured in the photo standing by the main building of her host university, the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates early in Spring Semester 2020, and showcasing CWRU pride in her study abroad tee-shirt! Kayele is graduating in May 2020 with a Masters of Science in Management and a B.S. in Finance. 
 

Cultural Experience - Yuhan Xia

A female CWRU student wearing a kimono stands outside a temple in Japan

“Kimono”

Yuhan says this photo shows her first time wearing a Kimono. She and her friends dressed up and went to a Japanese Shrine during her semester abroad at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan in Spring 2019. Yuhan is majoring in economics and political science and earning a minor in Japanese. 
 

Facebook's Most Likes - Joshua Hsia

A student stands on a rock in water with mountains behind it at sunrise

“Sunrise at Lake Tekapo”

Joshua is majoring in psychology and took this photo in Spring Semester 2020 while studying abroad at the University of Otago in New Zealand.
 

The World is Your Classroom- Hannah Clarke

a circle of hands eating out of a food bowl

“How To: Eating Around the Bowl”

Hannah says to prepare for living with a host family in Senegal, she had to learn how to eat around the bowl, as Senegalese families do for lunch and dinner. The featured dish is ceebu jën, the Senegalese national dish. Eating around the bowl is an essential part of /teranga/, a term that encapsulates Senegalese hospitality practices.

Hannah is majoring in French with a specialization in pre-health and is also in the Masters of Public Health Integrated Graduate Studies program. She spent spring semester 2019 studying abroad in Dakar, Senegal on the Language and Culture program through our partner, CIEE. 

 

Overall - Bhargavee Gnanasambandam

A student with a CWRU shirt on looks at a river between two rows of buildings and trees

“What a View!”

The photo was taken on a bridge over the canals of Amsterdam during the Bioethics Women’s Health and Public Health Ethics in The Netherlands study abroad course in Spring (May Abroad) 2019. Bhargavee is studying biomedical engineering and pre-health and is also earning a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering. She graduates in May 2020.

The Center for International Affairs' Global Citizen Awards recognize students, organizations and campus offices that enhance the international student experience, promote a sense of community at Case Western Reserve University and exemplify the university's values of inclusion and diversity.

A picture of Yuliang "Bill" Ding with his award

Laurie D. Zelman International Undergraduate Student Award: Yuliang “Bill” Ding

The Laurie D. Zelman International Undergraduate Student award is presented to a student who helps to create an inclusive community, encourages understanding among people of different cultures, is involved in positive work on campus, and helps others achieve their potential.

Bill has taken the initiative to serve in numerous capacities throughout Case Western Reserve. He brought new and unique perspectives to the Minority Association of Premedical Students and the Global Health Design Collaborative; has cultivated others’ growth as a Student Activities and Leadership Ambassador; has welcomed new students as an Orientation Leader; and, in 2018, completed 100 hours of community service through the CCEL Scholars Program. His nominators wrote about his positivity, endless enthusiasm, kindness to others, encouraging nature, and empathetic spirit.

A picture of J. Sebastian Garcia Medina with his award

Unsung Champion Award: J. Sebastian Garcia Medina

The award for Unsung Champion is presented to a student who has been involved on campus but has not necessarily held formal leadership positions.  It honors a person who rarely receives recognition for his or her work "behind the scenes" to enhance the international student experience and sense of community on campus.

J. Sebastian Garcia Medina created a platform, PrepGED, to help Spanish speakers succeed on their GED exams.  He secured funding, found a collaborator, and built the platform from the ground up.  He spent “countless hours” creating lesson plans, templates, and guides for recording tutorial videos. In his nominator’s words, “…instead of just getting through his two M.A. programs, research, and TA-ing, he has chosen to lead the start of a totally new and truly important resource for people also trying to advance their education and opportunities.”

A picture of representatives from Undergraduate Student Government Receiving their award

Outstanding Student Organization: USG

The Outstanding Student Organization award goes to a university-recognized group that has gone above and beyond a focus on their own membership to create a positive campus environment.

Following the travel ban preventing citizens of 7 Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, many international students felt vulnerable about presenting their passports revealing their country of citizenship, which for many, was their only form of government-issued identification in the U.S. Undergraduate Student Government rallied to assist any international student who wanted to obtain an Ohio Identification Card, which they could present, when appropriate, in lieu of a passport.
 
This initiative began in Spring 2017 and has been organized every semester since. This student organization arranges transportation to and from a BMV that issues state identification cards and supplements fees as needed, but above all, they have been helping to provide peace of mind through their support. They have served more than 20 international students to date - and in turn, helped our international students feel more welcome on our campus.

Spirit of Service Award: Geneva Magsino

Spirit of Service honors a student who has served the campus community with vigor, devotion, and an unshakable positive attitude. 

Geneva Magsino served as the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative President and used that platform to build relationships with other student leaders. It inspired her, along with collaborators, to apply for the Projects for Peace grant to improve menstrual hygiene and female health education in developing countries.  As recipients of this grant, she and a colleague traveled to Sierra Leone last summer to work with the UN Foundation, Girl Up, to help implement their program - which couples education with mentorship.

A picture of Chamois Williams, from The Alumni Association of CWRU with her award and partners from the Center for International Affairs

The Outstanding Partner in Collaboration Award: The Alumni Association of Case Western Reserve University

The Outstanding Partner in Collaboration goes to a campus partner that has successfully worked with the Center for International Affairs to sponsor or host an event or program that has benefited the international student community and internationalization efforts.

The Alumni Association of Case Western Reserve University works with the Center for International Affairs to connect alumni living abroad with students and events on campus that celebrate their culture.

The Study Abroad-Alumni Connections program—a collaboration between the offices —experienced significant growth in 2018.  The program matches students studying abroad with alumni living in their host countries and aims to broaden study abroad students’ worldviews, create deeper understanding between students and alumni, and offer alumni a concrete way to give back. 

Together, the Center and The Alumni Association works to ensure international students on campus, students studying abroad, and alumni around the world know Case Western Reserve is their home, and we are all family.  

Mohammad Islam with his award

Elise Lindsay International Graduate Student: Mohammad Islam

The Elise Lindsay International Graduate Student award honors a student who has exemplified talent, perseverance, courage, and a desire to make the world a better place through inclusion, research, teaching, care for others, or betterment of the university community. 

As an Electrical Engineering student, Mohammad Islam has fostered collaboration between multiple labs and has opened doors for future collaborations.  He is described as, “…an inspiration to fellow students,” and his “…superb research work provides inspiration to the undergraduates.”  As one nominator put it, “I am proud when I tell others that I know [him]; his successes, passion, and fervor towards his goals in life helps motivate others around him to accomplish their respective ambitions.”

Outside of the lab, Mohammad also takes time to serve members of the Greater Cleveland community.  He has worked with high school students doing summer research, mentored undergraduate and master’s students, and served as president of the Golden Key Honors Society.  In addition, he is the founding president of the Bangladesh Student Association, which serves to welcome Bangladeshi students to Case Western Reserve and to help them adjust to life in Cleveland.  

The Study Abroad Photo Contest features submissions from Case Western Reserve study abroad students' experiences around the world. These photos help the Center for International Affairs and its Office of Education Abroad show other students what studying abroad looks like to get them interested and excited about the opportunity to learn in another country.

Landscapes, Buildings and Bridges - Michael Nguyen

A picture of columns in the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt

This photo is of the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt, where Michael says the columns provided the only respite from the unforgiving sun. He visited Egypt on a semester break while studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. 
                

The World is Your Classroom - Cindy Wu

Cindy Wu demonstrating a vaccine carrier idea to health workers in the Luwero District of Uganda

After working all year to design prototypes of biomedical devices to improve vaccine outreach in Uganda, in this photo, Cindy is demonstrating the vaccine carrier idea to health workers in the Luwero District with the help of her classmates from Case Western Reserve & students from Makerere University. She was part of the interdisciplinary  Global Health Design study abroad program.
 

Cultural Selfie - Gabrielle Watson

A picture of Gabrielle standing with a tailor in the Luwero District of Uganda, who altered Gabrielle’s brightly-colored dress in less than five minutes

This is a photo of Gabrielle (who is on the right) and a tailor in the Luwero District of Uganda, who altered Gabrielle’s dress in less than five minutes! Gabrielle was also in Uganda as part of the Global Health Design program.

 

Most Likes on Facebook - Sophia Poppenberg

A of nature at sunrise during a safari at the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve in Cape Town, South Africa

This photo was taken at sunrise during a safari at the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve in Cape Town, South Africa. It received approximately 200 likes on Facebook! Sophia was studying abroad during May Term 2018 with an engineering program.   

                

General Category and Overall Winner - Nandita Kannapadi

A photo of Nandita and her friend standing in the Wadi Rum desert of Jordan

This was taken while Nandita was camping in the Wadi Rum desert of Jordan before she and her friend rode camels and watched the sunset. Nandita was studying abroad with the Department of Modern Languages in Literature during Spring Break.