Ten KU students named finalists for 27th-annual Ex.C.E.L. Awards

Posted on Sep 29, 2017 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Homecoming 2017 Jayhawks of the Galaxy, Ex.C.E.L. Awards

Ten finalists have been selected for the 27th-annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards at the University of Kansas. The finalists will participate in the Homecoming parade at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, along Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence. Two winners will be announced during halftime of the KU-Texas Tech Homecoming football game Oct. 7 at Memorial Stadium.

The Ex.C.E.L. Award provides an annual $250 scholarship to two students. The winners will present at the Blueprints Leadership Conference next spring in conjunction with KU’s Student Involvement and Leadership Center. Nominees were selected on the basis of leadership, effective communication skills, involvement at KU and in the Lawrence community, academic scholarship and ability to work with a variety of students and organizations. The selection committee included representatives from Student Union Activities, the Board of Class Officers, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center and the Homecoming Steering Committee.

The award was first given in 1991 to recognize two students for achievement. Names of winners are listed on a plaque on the fifth level of the Kansas Union. To be eligible, applicants must be full-time undergraduate students with an overall grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. Each finalist completed an application and participated in an interview. The finalists and their academic majors are listed below, along with highlights of their campus achievements.


From Pittsburg
Katie Phalen, molecular, cellular and developmental biology, is executive director of the KU Center for Community Outreach. She is a member of Kappa Delta sorority and Mortar Board honor society. She serves on the KU Memorial Corporation board of directors and is a member and co-founder of KU Interfaith Alliance.


From Lawrence
Kakra Boye-Doe, psychology with minor in sociology and pre-medicine, is a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, where he serves as external vice president. He is co-president of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students and a member of Phi Delta Epsilon and Order of Omega. He is a Peer Led Undergraduate Supplements (PLUS) leader and a teaching assistant in biology, and he conducts research in social psychology. He volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.

Puja Shah, microbiology with a minor in Spanish, founded KU Habitat for Humanity and led the organization as president. She served on the executive boards of Jayhawk Health Initiative and the South Asian Student Association, and she chairs the Counseling and Psychological Services Committee. She has conducted research with KU Work Group for Community Health and Development, and she has been a resident assistant at Ellsworth Hall for three years. In 2015, she received the Millard Fuller Young Philanthropist of the Year Award.


From Hays
Sana Cheema, biology, is vice president of the Pre-Medical Society and founder and president of KU Friends of Pakistan. She is a University Honors Scholar and serves as the historian for Mortar Board honor society. She is a member of Student Senate and vice president of membership for the Student Alumni Leadership Board.


From Leawood
Danielle London, peace and conflict studies/global and international studies with minors in French and Spanish, has served on the executive board of Students United for Reproductive and Gender Equity as treasurer, outreach coordinator and program director. She is an orientation assistant and peer mentor for the Office of First-Year Experience, and she serves as a student social justice educator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She was named a Global Scholar in 2016.

From Overland Park
Zoya Khan, political science and global and international studies with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. She has served as president of the Muslim Student Association, and she chaired the Student Senate Multicultural Affairs Committee. She has been a member of KU Students for Refugees, the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board and International Student Services.


From Derby
Justin Kim, anthropology and visual art, is president of KU Young Democrats and the Student Alumni Leadership Board. He has been a board member of Student Union Activities and the Dole Student Advisory Board. He also created the Kansas Union Gallery Internship Program.


From Topeka
Hannah Schifman, art history and psychology with a minor in leadership studies, is a founding member and vice president of the KU Art History Club and a representative for the Board of Class Officers. She is a Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute alumna and a LeaderShape graduate. She has been a student facilitator for the Colors of KU diversity retreat and a leader during Hawk Week. She interned at KU Hillel and participated in Israel Leadership Mission and Alternative Breaks. She is a member of Student Union Activities and she volunteers at Watkins Museum of History.


From Seattle
Tomas Green, chemical engineering with a minor in public policy, has been a member of Student Senate and the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board, and he has organized events for TEDxKU. He has volunteered at the Willow Domestic Violence Center and has worked with the Citizens Climate Lobby. He is a Self Engineering Leadership Fellow and a 2016 KU Man of Merit. In 2017, he was selected as a Udall Scholar and a Tau Beta Pi Scholar.


From Lima
Sebastian Huayamares, chemical engineering and mathematics, is a member of Theta Tau fraternity and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He also participates in the University Honors Program and Tau Beta Pi honor society.

A complete schedule of Homecoming week activities can be found online. The Alumni Association and its Student Alumni Network oversee Homecoming 2017, which is sponsored by Crown Toyota Volkswagen and supported by Kansas Athletics, PepsiCo and Student Union Activities.

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