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2023 Graduate Student Leadership Award Winners

2023 Graduate Student Award Winners

The Graduate College is delighted to announce the winners of the 2023 Graduate Student Leadership Awards: Daniela Markazi and Luis David Gaytán-Soto. The awards recognize graduate students who have exhibited outstanding services that has positively impacted the campus and wider communities.

Daniela Markazi, doctoral student in Informatics, has over a decade of leadership championing diversity in STEM. Highlights of her work include serving as chair of the central Illinois chapter of the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and providing mentoring and coaching to local high school students in areas of coding and robotics. Additionally, Markazi has demonstrated outstanding leadership through her efforts as the student leader of the UIUC Puerto Rico Disaster Relief Program. In this role, she has taken UIUC students on trips to Puerto Rico to engage with different communities and learn about cultural competence. These efforts led to the creation of a new course at UIUC titled “Community-Based Design and Management for Disaster Resilience.” The Graduate Student Leadership Award selection committee extended praise to Markazi for “making an impact that will extend years beyond her graduation.”

Luis David Gaytán-Soto, master’s student in Spanish, has demonstrated commitment through a multitude of advising and mentoring programs with an emphasis on serving those in the Latinx community. As a participant in La Casa Cultural Latina’s A.C.E. Mentoring program, Gaytán-Soto has helped undergraduate students navigate life as a student at the University of Illinois. Additionally, Gaytán-Soto has contributed to the La Casa Cultural Latina's Scholarship and Selection Committee and through volunteering in the Richard Chavez Ambassador Program. In granting Gaytán-Soto the award, the selection committee commended his unique brand of servant leadership, applying lessons from his lived experience in “creating inclusive and affirming environments for others” in a variety of ways.

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

Nathanael Assefa, a doctoral student in Computer Science, organizes the UIUC Machine Learning Seminar. He has developed a handful of funded recurrent academic offerings to enrich the experience of undergraduate students and early-stage PhDs in his Department and the broader Grainger community.

Victoria Clemens, master’s student in Social Work, for extending her scholarship to educate her community and advocate for changes in state law. The committee recognized her taking initiative and demonstrating authentic leadership in her community engagement.

Essam Abderasul Bubaker Elkorghli, a doctoral student in Education, Policy, Organization and Leadership, for his dedication to community building, applying innovative methods to educate peers, and tireless advocacy within the Graduate Employee’s Organization (GEO).

Joenisse M. Rosada-Rosa, a doctoral student in Chemistry, for serving as a voice of change in her department including serving as co-chair of the Student Wellness Coalition in her department where she worked to implement policy changes to improve conditions for students.

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.