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Reves Center Announces 2023 International Student Achievement Awards

International Student Achievement Award winners at the Evening of Excellence, April 16, 2023. Pictured, L-R Rachel Li, Meveryn Chua, Charleigh Kondas, Katrine Westgaard, Lilly Blume and Eva Wong (Director of ISSP). Courtesy photo.

The Reves Center for International Studies has announced the 2023 International Student Achievement Award recipients.

Eva Wong, director of International Students, Scholars and Programs (ISSP) at the Reves Center, presented the awards at William & Mary’s Evening of Excellence Event on April 26.

"This year we had an especially impressive group of applicants as well as enthusiastic nominators," said Wong. "It is amazing to see each year the breadth of the scholarship among our international students as well as the impact they have inside and outside of the classroom."

International Student Achievement Awards of $700 each are given each spring to W&M and VIMS international students who have been nominated by faculty or staff as having distinguished themselves as exemplary in their academics, leadership and service to the community. All faculty and staff are eligible to nominate a student.

This year's awardees are listed here, along with excerpts from the nominators' applications. (The excerpts have been edited slightly for length and clarity.)

list of student awardees
2023 International Student Achievement Awardees
blume_200.jpgLilly Blume, Graduate Student (Germany)
Field of study: Marine Science

Lily is a brilliant student with good time management and is highly motivated to learn new techniques and methods. She actively participated in and organized sampling events during the summer blooms of harmful algal blooms in 2022, and in only one and a half years, she has sufficient data to present at a conference recently and is writing a manuscript reporting a new finding of microbial indicators associated with harmful algal blooms in the York River Estuary.

Lily serves as a co-president of the VIMS international student committee and is a member of the William & Mary international student advisory board. She organizes many of the international student activities at VIMS and is actively engaged in the VIMS Graduate Student Association. More importantly, not only does Lilly serve as a leader, but she does so with enthusiasm and purpose. 

Lilly has great potential to be an excellent marine scientist with her self-motivation, strong commitment, and high endurance. Lilly has a bright future ahead of her.

— Bongkeun Song, Clark & Elizabeth Diamond Professor, VIMS; and Kimberly Reece, Professor, Chair, VIMS Aquatic Health Sciences

chua.jpgMeveryn Chua, Graduate Student (Singapore)
Field of study: Educational Policy Planning & Leadership

Ms. Chua has worked with me as a graduate research assistant for the past year, contributing to projects designed to advance youth mental health. Her research skills are excellent, and she has earned co-authorship and intellectual credit for her contributions to publications and research grants. This summer, she will present her original research on the effects of social media on youth mental health at the Association for Psychological Science’s annual meeting.

Ms. Chua serves the W&M community in her role as presidential aide to President Rowe. She also serves as a member of the W&M student technology advisory committee and as a graduate student peer leader with the international student advisory board. Ms. Chua has tutored public school students through W&M’s Griffin School Partnership and assisted Williamsburg families through her research on the social and community dimensions of food insecurity.

— Elizabeth Talbott, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and Professor, School of Education

evans_200.jpgTomos Evans, Graduate Student (Wales)
Field of study: Anthropology

Tomos successfully led three archaeological field seasons in Ilara-Epe, Lagos State Nigeria.  In January 2022, the exceptional nature of Tomos’s work and service to the community at Ilara-Epe through his fieldwork, seminars, exhibitions, and other forms of advocacy led to the Alara (king) of the Ilara Kingdom Oba Olufolarin Ogunsanwo bestowing upon him an honorary chiefly title (Otun Oluomo) in recognition of his exemplary service.

Tomas has variously been elected President, Vice-President, Social Chair, Graduate Studies Advisory Board Representative, and subject representative on the Graduate Student Association. Tomos also co-founded and co-moderated an A&S graduate student DEI sub-committee, the most significant achievement of which has been a DEI peer-mentoring initiative that continues to pull in 20 to 30 students per year, with current student mentees being paired with incoming student mentees. 

Tomos now represents the A&S graduate students on the International Student Advisory Board where he has focused on improving communication among A&S graduate students from different departments via social media and frequent emailing.

Tomos has regularly taught and mentored undergraduates and co-founded ‘The Emerging Scholars Series’ in which graduate students from William & Mary give talks on their research to the public. 

— Neil Norman, Associate Professor, Anthropology

kondas_200.pngCharleigh Kondas JD '23 (Canada)
Field of study: Law

 Charleigh has been an important member of the Law School community from the outset.

Charleigh and a fellow student were instrumental in starting what is now known as the First Generation Student Alliance, a mentoring and support group for first-generation students at the Law School. As a first-generation student herself, Charleigh saw that there was an unmet need for mentorship. The organization is now thriving, running a fundraiser to support graduating law students in need of financial assistance to rent regalia; setting up mentoring pairs so that first-year students have a mentor in the upper classes; hosting multiple speaker and networking events, including with members of our Alumni Board; and working with our Admissions Office to help recruit prospective first-generation students to the Law School.

Dean of the Law School A. Benjamin Spencer partnered with Charleigh to write an op-ed for Bloomberg Law on the importance of retaining first-generation students in law schools.

She is a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Team, a competition team that selects its members through tryouts, and a staff member of the William & Mary Law Review, one of the Law School's scholarly journals that publishes work from academics throughout the world.

Rather than resting on her laurels in her final year of school, Charleigh founded the International Student Alliance to give voice to international students, connect international students to more career resources, and create a safe space where international students can support each other.

— Laura Heymann, Chancellor Professor of Law and Kelly Professor of Excellence in Teaching, W&M Law School; and Catherine Stahl, Director of LLM Programs and Professor of the Practice of Law

li_200.jpgRuotian (Rachel) Li '23 (China)
Field of study: Psychology

Rachel has had a stellar record of high achievement as well as providing service and leadership.

Through Rachel’s participation in my lab and her active seeking out of other research experiences while at William & Mary and elsewhere, I have been struck by Rachel’s intellectual curiosity and passion to learn about and immerse herself in the field of psychology. For example, Rachel watched some conference symposia sessions at the virtual Society for Research in Child Development conference with me (and other research assistants) about two years ago. One of the presentations was given by a graduate student at Virginia Tech who happened to have collected data from the province in China where Rachel’s mother was born. Rachel took the initiative to contact this researcher and became involved with her project given Rachel’s facility in Chinese and English, and her interest in the topic.

Rachel served as one of the three student members on the Educational Policy Committee during her sophomore year which is an A&S elected faculty group who discuss and make policies regarding undergraduate curricular offerings and changes to classes. Rachel also collaborated with a group of students to provide suggestions to the Provost about modifications to the pass-fail policy due to COVID during Spring 2021 and Fall 2021.  Rachel also provided service to the community by volunteering at Bacon Street Youth and Family Services which is a non-profit mental agency and also with the Griffin School Partnership where students work with local school systems to provide assistance both within school hours and after school activities.

Rachel is one of the most motivated students I have worked with while at William & Mary. She is a quick learner, a self-starter, and has a very strong work ethic. She is able to work independently and is also a valued team member. She is intellectually curious and she always seems to be delving into new areas of knowledge, simply because she is intrigued and wants to learn more. We have very intellectually inspiring discussions because she challenges me to acknowledge and analyze my assumptions and possible biases, and these conversations lead me to be a better scientist and teacher.

— Janice Zeman, Professor, Psychological Sciences

westgaard200.jpgKatrine Westgaard '23 (Norway)
Field of study: International Relations

We consider Katrine to be in the top one percent of her cohort and of the 2600+ students that we have taught at William & Mary in nearly two decades. 

Katrine's academic scholarship is outstanding. Her honors thesis could form the basis of a Ph.D. dissertation. 

We also know Katrine through her work for William & Mary’s Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS), where she was a 2021-2022 research fellow. Katrine was an outstanding fellow. She has a keen analytical mind, excellent writing and research skills, tremendous work ethic, great maturity and outstanding organizational skills. She now serves as senior research fellow for PIPS, where she mentors the current cohort of PIPS fellows. Katrine is one of the top students to progress through PIPS in its sixteen years.

Katrine has consistently demonstrated an enthusiasm for research. During the summer of 2022, Katrine was a Global Research Institute summer fellow and traveled to Tblisi to interview government and military officials in the Republic of Georgia in support of a faculty member’s research.  Katrine’s work in Georgia led to being invited to serve as an Academic Associate at the Georgian Security Analysis Center.  Katrine also is the student research lead at William & Mary’s International Political Affairs in the Caucasus Lab, where she leads a team of student researchers to continue to support the faculty member’s work on the Republic of Georgia.

In sum, Katrine is an absolutely stellar young scholar and a deserving recipient of the International Student Achievement award. We fully anticipate that she will someday be a colleague—one who is both a creative IR theoretician and incisive policy analyst.

— Amy Oakes, Associate Professor, Government and International Relations, co-director of the Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS);  and Dennis Alcides Velazco Smith, Senior Lecturer of Government and co-director of the Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS)

The Office of International Students, Scholars & Programs (ISSP) supports W&M's growing international community through: Immigration Services; Programming, Education and Advocacy; and Scholarships. More than More than 800 international students, scholars and their families from more than 55 countries call W&M home.

The Reves Center for International Studies is the home of the Global Education Office, and the Office of International Students, Scholars, and Programs and the Global Engagement Team at William & Mary. Established in 1989 with a gift from Wendy Reves in memory of her husband Emery, author of The Anatomy of Peace, the Reves Center supports and promotes the internationalization of learning, teaching, research and community involvement at the university.