New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U) recently awarded the inaugural NAC&U Award for Student Excellence, recognizing three recent graduates for their knowledge and experience in liberal arts, professional studies or experiential learning, and/or civic engagement.

The 2017 recipients of the NAC&U Award for Student Excellence are:

Amy Ontai

St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas

Fly Sci with Miss Ontai: An interactive science web-series to engage middle school students

Ms. Ontai’s senior thesis project, Fly Sci with Miss Ontai, is an interactive web-series designed to engage middle school students in Texas with state standardized testing objectives.

Advisor: Steven Fletcher, associate professor, secondary education

Future Plans: Amy will enter the Microbiology Track of the Yale BBS Program in the Yale University School of Medicine this fall.

Rebecca Carman

Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio

Design for Good

When addressing social issues, Ms. Carman’s designs tackle societal challenges by encouraging people to change old habits, preserve nature, establish community relationships, and recognize the importance of sustainability through design thinking and problem-solving.

Advisor: Brit Rowe, associate professor, art and design

Currently, Rebecca works as the Graphic and Digital Designer for the Office of Communications and Marketing at Ohio Northern University.

Chris Burns-DiBiasio, First Lady; Maria Cronley, Provost; Rebecca Carman, Student Prize Recipient; Dan DiBiasio, President; Jennifer Moore, NAC&U Faculty Ambassador; and Brad Wile, NAC&U Faculty Ambassador; all of Ohio Northern University.​

Samantha Tirrell

Russell Sage College, Troy, N.Y.

Ugwu’s Biafra: Individual and national modes of sovereignty and resistance in Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun

Using post-colonial theory, Ms. Tirrell’s article seeks to draw parallels between a fictional character in Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and the secession of the sovereign state of Biafra from Nigeria, exploring the methods by which colonized people inadvertently mimic the behavior of their colonizers in their movements of resistance.

Advisor: Shealeen Meaney, associate professor, English and modern languages

Future Plans: In the fall, Sam will begin the three-year MFA Stage Management program at the Yale School of Drama.

The recipients traveled to Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind., in June to attend the first day of the NAC&U Summer Institute where they received their awards and presented their work.

“There may be no better way to celebrate our shared approach to higher education — the integration of liberal arts, professional studies and civic engagement — than by recognizing our students’ achievements in these areas,” said Nancy Hensel, president, NAC&U. “We are so honored to have these three young women share their work with us.”

Last fall, seniors at NAC&U’s 24 member institutions were invited to apply for the award, and each campus was eligible to enter one submission. Ultimately, NAC&U received 13 outstanding submissions. NAC&U will issue a call for papers for the 2018 Award for Student Excellence this fall.