International Undergraduate Awards Program

The International Awards Program aims to celebrate the achievements and contributions of students and student groups who benefit the international community at Duke and to honor the legacy of the International House and more broadly, internationalism at Duke.  

International Awards Program aspires to be a structured way in which international students and international cultural groups can achieve recognition for their contributions to campus life at Duke. The Awards Program will provide a space where the international communities on campus can come together and envision their future at Duke alongside their domestic counterparts. 

Link to nominate students and student groups will be available soon. If you have any questions, please contact 


  • Award students and student groups involved with international life at Duke. 

  • Encourage recognition to the work many student organizations put together through a few selected student group performances in the beginning of the event. 

  • Raise awareness and give visibility to the involvement of the different international students, staff and cultural organizations on campus.  

  • Provide a space for the international and U.S American community at Duke to come together and acknowledge and celebrate international students’ various accomplishments and diverse experiences. 


Advocacy: Student Advocate of the Year – Sanya Kochhar

Civic Engagement: Impact on Campus & Local Community – Kedest Mathewos

Community Engagement: Volunteer of the Year – Jalisa Jackson

Creativity: Artistic Student of the Year – Thandolwethu Mamba

Leadership: Student Leader of the Year – Shyam Pradheep

Student Group of the Year – CommuniTEA (Honorable Mentions: Duke LASO, Duke ASEAN, Duke Africa)


Advocacy: Student Advocate of the Year


Sanya Kochhar

Sanya is a senior from New Delhi, India, majoring in Computer Science, with minors in Biology and History.

On receiving the Advocacy Award:

When I started out at Duke, I remember how frustrated I felt at the lack of advocacy and representation of international student experiences I saw as a senator in Duke Student Government. As a senior, I am happy to have been able to change some of that. It became my goal to change that on any scale I could: to bring our issues into the purview of DSG projects and work with administrators to make sure our voices were not going unheard. More personally, I felt motivated by the international upperclassmen who helped me navigate Duke before I even stepped foot on campus. When they graduated, I wanted to make sure to do the same for incoming international students.

Receiving this award means a lot to me especially because of the unique challenges we faced last summer that pushed a group of us to petition together – something freshman me would be so proud of. These awards recognize students and administrators who often work behind the scenes on issues that never make The Chronicle headlines, so a huge shout out to the IHouse and the IA for making this possible!

Civic Engagement: Impact on Campus & Local Community


Kedest Mathewos

On receiving the Civic Engagement Award:

I am so honored and grateful to have been awarded the Civic Engagement Award. The international community at Duke has been my home and I am very ecstatic to have been awarded for my involvement in it.

I have spent my time at Duke creating and maintaining spaces for people to feel welcome and be part of a community that values them as an individual. Whether it be organizing frequent get-togethers, surprising friends on their birthdays or taking care of friends when they need it, I try my best to create inclusive communities in which everyone feels cared for. As the Co-president of DukeAFRICA, one of my main goals was to challenge the perception that this organization was mainly geared towards Western Africa. While we have a long way to go, I strongly believe that students from all over the continent feel more welcome than they used to. My leadership style in every organization I was involved in relied on creating a space where people completed their tasks while also feeling like they belonged to a group that valued their opinions and perspectives. I do this because I believe that the pillar of any organization such as Duke are the communities in which people feel welcome and are valued for who they are. It’s only then that people can come together and contribute to any community they are part of.

Community Engagement: Volunteer of the Year

Jalisa J

Jalisa Jackson

On receiving the Community Engagement Award:

I am Jalisa Jackson, a junior at Duke studying psychology and African and African American Studies. I am the Women's Leadership Intern at Duke Women's Center. Working alongside a incomparable staff, I have enjoyed playing a role in building community among female identifying students on Duke's campus and empowering others to engage academically and socially in community issues, especially gender and racial equity. As I navigate being a student and a community leader, I believe it is important to look not only after those following me, but those among me currently as well. I am encouraged by the following African proverb: "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." With the community I have been given, fostered and continue to push forward, I am tremendously grateful for the recognition and nomination for the Community Engagement award.

Creativity: Artistic Student of the Year


Thandolwethu Mamba

Photo by Mark Rainey

Thandolwethu Mamba

On receiving the Creativity Award:

I am a senior student from Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) who majors in Music (Voice Performance Concentration) with minors in Biology and Chemistry. Before coming to Duke, I studied at UWC Dilijan in Armenia, where I continued to develop my passion for both music and health-related science. This awards means a lot to me because it is proof that my experience here at Duke has been richly rewarding and that others see it, as well. When I declared the music major about two years ago, I was filled with so much fear and excitement, yet what I remember was that everyone else around me seemed to be more excited than I was and with no fear or preoccupation. And that’s one of the things I’ll always been grateful for about Duke; the tremendous amount of support one often receives. My motivation for what I do is happiness and love. I love music, I love how I am able to find joy in it while also exchanging joy to the people I share it with. But perhaps more importantly is that music loves me. And I always feel that in my bones.

Leadership: Student Leader of the Year


Shyam Pradheep

On receiving the Leadership Award:

My name is Shyam Pradheep, I am an international student from Muscat, Oman. This past year, I have been one of the Co-Presidents of the International Association (IA). Being a part of IA has been the most wonderful rollercoaster of my college career. I have met wonderful people from all over the world. Being an international student so far away from anything familiar can be difficult. As someone who has witnesses and gone through these struggles myself, I wanted to make it such that international students don’t just survive, but thrive. However, it is important to note that none of the work I have done is my just own. Every single member of IA has equal claim on this award. I know that IA will reach even greater heights and my only regret is that I will not be there at Duke to see my friends and colleagues reach those heights.

Student Group of the Year

Vincent Liu


President Vincent Liu on receiving the Student Group of the Year Award:

I’m a junior from Chengdu, China. I started Duke CommuniTEA in my freshman year, hoping to share my love for specialty tea and to connect people through tea. To date, CommuniTEA has hosted over 80 tea tasting events, community bonding events, and Boba related events. In the beginning of the club’s formation, I was the only one passionate enough to run nearly everything. Now, CommuniTEA has a team of over 20 amazing tea enthusiasts who help plan and organize tea-related events. On behalf of the diverse community we have in the club, I’m very delighted to see CommuniTEA receive this award from International Awards, and our team will continue promoting tea culture and building a strong community at Duke.