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2022 Graduate Student Leadership Award Winners

A graphic depicting the winners of the 2022 Graduate Student Leadership Award

The Graduate College is excited to announce the winners of the 2022 Graduate Student Leadership Awards: Markera Jones and Donald Molina. The award recognizes graduate students who have exhibited outstanding service that has positively impacted the campus or wider Urbana-Champaign community.

Markera Jones, doctoral student in Psychology, is the coordinator for the Education Justice Project’s (EJP) Mindfulness Discussion Group. As part of this service, Jones has demonstrated “expert communication, organizational skills, creativity, and a clear vision” while logging over 90 contact hours with incarcerated students. Additionally, Jones sought out opportunities to support her peers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including collaborating to develop a “Radical Self-Care Toolkit” for graduate students. The Graduate Student Leadership Award selection committee lauded Jones’ leadership within the EJP among other initiatives that demonstrated her unique ability to use her disciplinary expertise for community outreach that provided a “clear and quantifiable” impact.

Donald Molina, master’s student in Food Science and Human Nutrition, has demonstrated commitment to enhancing the graduate student experience. As Vice President of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Graduate Student Association, Molina took initiative in organizing social events to rekindle community among students feeling isolation during the pandemic. Molina’s track record of service and leadership extends to his contributions to the Discovering STEM in ACES program for underrepresented students and as the president of the Zamorano Alumni Group. In granting Molina the award, the selection committee commended his strong record of voluntary work and demonstration of key leadership qualities including “integrity” and “humility.”

The Graduate College is also pleased to announce four recipients of Special Recognition in Graduate Student Leadership. They are:

Robby Goldman, doctoral student in Geology, turned his science expertise into advocacy, from volunteer work in local public high schools to meeting with congressional aides on critical matters of Earth science and hazards on behalf of the Geological Society of America.

Wael Mobeirek, master’s student in Computer Science, worked on the inaugural Discover Partner’s Institute Research Scholar Team. Mobeirek demonstrated admirable leadership qualities through his mentoring to other students.

Ricky Price, doctoral student in Special Education, advocated for disability, inclusion, and accessibility including an innovative and creative approach to secure grant funding and by organizing a film festival centered on disability and inclusion.

Sreelakshmi Suresh, master’s student in Entomology, is the founder and president of Forging Unity, Solidarity, and Equity for QTPOC (FUSE), a student organization that creates a safe space for queer and trans students of color to destress and discuss topics centered around intersectional identities.

Begun in 2015, the Graduate Student Leadership Award is sponsored by The Graduate College and its student advisory group, SAGE (Students Advising on Graduate Education)

For more information about the Graduate Student Leadership Award or previous recipients, visit our website.

Hear from the winners of the 2022 Graduate Student Leadership Award in their own words: