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Honoring Some of AU’s Best and Brightest

The 2024 University and Student Achievement Awards honored 39 changemakers who contributed to key accomplishments on campus in the last year.

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From right, University Chaplain Bryant Oskvig with Caroline Routh, SIS/BA '23, winner of the Kay Spiritual Life Center Leadership Award. Photo by Jeff Watts.

From the laboratory to the library, Mary Graydon Center, and Jacobs Recreational Complex, American University students leave an impact on every inch of campus—and places far beyond it.

On May 9, the breadth and depth of those changemakers’ work over the last year was on full display at the 2024 University and Student Achievement Awards celebration and reception.

Held at Constitution Hall, the first in-person ceremony since 2019 brought together 39 outstanding Eagles, who were honored for their accomplishments inside and outside the classroom.

“We are proud to call all of you the very best of us,” said Dayne Hutchinson, assistant vice president for student engagement and success. “Without your commitment, tenacity, and unyielding passion to help make AU the vibrant community that it is, we would not be able to accomplish many of the things we did this year.”

Meet this year’s awardees here.

Student Affairs Awards

Caroline Routh, SIS/BA ’23, received the Kay Spiritual Center Leadership Award, which honors a student who embodies the mission of the center as a place for people of all beliefs to explore their meaning and purpose. Routh regularly contributed to interfaith conversations and founded the Coven at AU, a student group for witches and magical folks.

Meiying Matute, CAS/BA ’25, received the Soaring Eagle Award, which recognizes a student on an executive board who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and service to the AU community and campus life. As a leader in the AU Art Club, Matute created a welcoming, inclusive environment for all, regardless of experience or skill level.

Taha Vahanvaty, SPA/BA ’26, received the Emerging Eagle Award, which is given to a sophomore or junior actively engaged in campus life, who demonstrates leadership potential. As copresident of the Muslim Student Association, Vahanvaty has advocated for the needs of Muslim students on campus. Vahanvaty also cofounded an interfaith club at AU.

Amaarah DeCuir, a senior professorial lecturer in the School of Education, was named Advisor of the Year for her work with the Muslim Student Association.

Christiani Jemiri, CAS/BA ’25, and Edwin Santos, SPA/BA ’24, received the Outstanding Student Leader Award for their dedication to actively participating in campus activities and improving campus life. Jemiri served as inaugural cochair of the Student Activities Council, while Santos, cofounder of Latinos En Accíon, is the outgoing AU Student Government president.

Samantha Noland, SOC/MFA ’25, and Shreya Joshi, SPA/BA ’25, Kogod/BS ’25, received the CSI Awards of Excellence. Noland served as president of the Graduate Leadership Council and Joshi was director of the Kennedy Political Union and president of the Hindu Student Association.

Community Impact Awards

  • The Black Student Union was honored for its impact and service to the AU community.. The group facilitated discussions about Blackness and hosted speakers.
  • AU in Motion was recognized for creating an inclusive community for all 200 of its dancers.
  • Alpha Chi Omega embodied the best of sorority life at AU, hosting events like a Domestic Violence Awareness Month panel.
  • The SIS Graduate Student Council implemented initiatives aimed at enhancing academic, professional, and social support networks for peers; advocating for policy changes; and prioritizing student well-being.

Diana Garay Flores, SIS/MA ’24, received the First-Generation Student Achievement Award for her efforts organize free English language classes for immigrant staff at AU.

Queen Coker, SOC/MFA ’24, received the Richard L. Schlegel Legion of Honor Award, which recognizes individuals who support the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community. In her MFA program, Coker has centered LGBTQIA+ stories within the African diasporic perspective.

Mary O’Brien, SIS/BA ’24, received the Active Citizen Award for her work with immigrants and refugees. The Global Scholar with a near-perfect GPA also works as an immigration paralegal.

Catalyst Award

  • Alexandra Kauffman, CAS/BS ’24, is the lead investigator on the Peacock Project, which focuses on the effects of pediatric brain tumors, which the team presented at the Society for Neuroscience Conference.
  • Romy Hermans, SIS/BA ’24, has been deeply involved in Parking and Commuter Services, helping with events like move-in and commencement. Hermans has also spent hours helping English as Second Language students at the Washington English Center and the African Community Center of DC, and she served as president of the French Club.
  • Merete Oakes, CAS/BS ’24, worked with more than 20 volunteers and raised nearly $60,000 for the Brem Foundation to Defeat Breast Cancer.

The AU Muslim Student Association’s leadership team received the Collaborative Community Engagement Award for its efforts to enhance well-being and representation of Muslim students on campus. The group worked with AU leadership to address and challenge anti-Muslim biases in curriculum, setting a precedent for academic inclusivity.

Eight students received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for completing at least 100 hours of community service in 12 months. Together, they volunteered more than 3,500 hours. They are:

  • Edwin Santos, SPA/BA ’24, MPA ’25
  • Payton Ziegler, SPA /BA ’24, MA ’25
  • Shayna Rutman, SPA/BA ’24, MPA ’25
  • Zoe Bell, SOC/BA ’24
  • Ginger Knight, SIS/BA ’24
  • Georgia Calimeres, SIS/MA ’24
  • Leticia Banda, CAS/BA ’24
  • Jamie Tan-Magadia, CAS/BS ’24

Student Achievement Awards, Outstanding Service Awards, Outstanding Scholarship Awards

Recipients of these awards, including the President’s Award winner—announced earlier this month—were also honored during the ceremony.