Faced with an unprecedented physical campus closing in the spring semester, Schar School faculty and students gathered in front of screens to celebrate students’ successes in the face of the challenges of a pandemic, online classes, and uncertainty about the future.
The May 20 annual student awards ceremony went online to ensure that the achievements of this year’s awardees did not go unrecognized.
Faculty and staff, including Dean Mark J. Rozell and the directors of the Schar School’s academic programs, presented awards to 2 undergraduate students and 12 graduate students who exemplified academic excellence. As Rozell said in his opening remarks, “Our award recipients represent the best that George Mason University has to offer—the Schar School’s strong scholars going out into the world to make a difference. I can think of no better way to finish the academic year.”
The recognition is important, say the recipients. The awards help build confidence and set the stage for future success. As John D. R. Cole Award for Outstanding Public Administration Student recipient Louie Al-Hashimi said, “During my studies, I set a personal goal to participate in class by speaking up at least one time per lecture. Receiving this award motivates me to continue setting small goals that build consistent habits and significant impact over time.”
David Ricardo Award recipient for Outstanding International Commerce and Policy Student Brian Bowling echoed Al-Hashimi’s sentiments and took the award to heart, explaining that the award meant “everything” to him, and that “It was nice to be recognized…it’s a confidence boost,” especially when talking to co-workers at the International Monetary Fund, where he now works.
Some of the recipients are continuing studies at the Schar School, including Outstanding International Security Student award recipient Connor Monie, who will be staying in the fall to pursue a PhD in Political Science.
“I feel validated in my academic habits,” he said. “The award is a reassuring and motivating force as I continue my career at the Schar School in the political science PhD program. Obviously, the demands of the PhD program are greater than those at the master’s level. I am confident, though, that I can bring with me the kinds of behaviors that made me a candidate for the International Security award into the next phase of my academic career.”
For awardees at the doctoral level, the impact of the awards was equally as motivating. As Joseph L. Fisher Public Policy Doctoral Student Award recipient Solomiya Shpak noted, “This award gives me inspiration and boosts my confidence that I can contribute to academic research that has timely policy implications, and the confidence much needed when pursuing a career in academia.” This is particularly helpful, she noted, as she transitions into her next stage as Assistant Professor at Kyiv School of Economics in Ukraine.
As the ceremony came to a close, Assistant Dean Ann Ludwick expressed the best wishes of the whole Schar School community, saying “While we are disappointed we cannot congratulate you in person, we are so proud of your achievements and contributions to our school, and glad to be able to celebrate with you virtually today.”
The full list of students honored at the ceremony includes:
- Angela J. Khoury/Stephen T. Early Award, Outstanding Senior in Government and International Politics Blair Schaefer
- John W. Godbold Award, Outstanding Senior in Public Administration Kinda Ahmed
- Outstanding Biodefense Student Michael S. Krug
- David Ricardo Award, Outstanding International Commerce and Policy Student Brian Bowling
- Outstanding International Security Student Connor Monie
- Outstanding Political Science Student Jennifer Lovell
- Frances Harbour Award, Biodefense Community Leadership Yong-Bee Lim
- John D. R. Cole Award, Outstanding Public Administration Student Louie Al-Hashimi
- Julianne Mahler Award, Outstanding Research in Public Administration Emily Rogers
- Alexis De Tocqueville Award, Outstanding Public Policy Student Karl Becker
- Malcom P. McLean Transportation Award, Outstanding Transportation Policy, Operations, and Logistics Student Megan Nelson
- Outstanding Doctoral Student in Biodefense Saskia Popescu
- Outstanding Doctoral Student in Political Science Scott Atherley
- Joseph L. Fisher Public Policy Doctoral Student Award Solomiya Shpak
Click here to see the presentation: Student Awards Ceremony