International House (IHouse)

International 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 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. 

If you have any questions, contact Ling Jin at ling.jin@duke.edu

Goals:  

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

  • Encourage recognition to the work many student organizations put together. 

  • 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. 

Award Categories

Academic Engagement: Undergraduate Academic Wizard of the Year 
Awarded to a high-achieving undergraduate student that has excelled in a particular academic area. 

Academic Engagement: Graduate/Professional Academic Wizard of the Year 
Awarded to a high-achieving graduate or professional student that has excelled in a particular academic area. 

Civic Engagement: Global Impact on Campus & Global Impact Locally 
Awarded to an undergraduate, graduate or professional student that has consistently promoted internationalism and cultural understanding on the Duke campus and the local Durham community. 

Community Engagement: Volunteer of the Year 
Awarded to an undergraduate, graduate or professional student that has had a long-standing commitment and significant impact in the local Durham community. 

Creativity: Artistic Student of the Year 
Awarded to an undergraduate, graduate or professional student for their outstanding contribution in the Arts. 

Leadership: Student Leader of the Year 
Awarded to an undergraduate, graduate or professional student that has undertaken key leadership roles in creating international community at Duke and embodied the ideals of commitment and personal challenge. 

Advocacy: Student Advocate of the Year 
Awarded to an undergraduate, graduate or professional student actively involved in activism related to international issues and advocating for a particular cause for international students. 

Student Group of the Year 
Awarded to a cultural and/or ethnic student group that has been engaged on promoting intercultural understanding. 

 

2020 - 2021 AWARD RECIPIENTS

Academic Engagement: Undergraduate Academic Wizard Abebe Amare

Academic Engagement: Graduate/Professional Academic Wizard – Edgar Virguez

Civic Engagement: Global Impact on Campus & in Durham – Thuan Tran

Creativity: Artistic Student of the Year – Maria Zurita Ontiveros

Leadership: Student Leader of the Year – Anne Klok

Advocacy: Student Advocate of the Year – Tanisha Nalavadi

Student Group of the Year – Duke Desarrolla

 

Academic Engagement: Undergraduate Academic Wizard

Abebe

Abebe Amare

On receiving the award:

I do what I am doing to ultimately better the lives of the people around me directly or indirectly. The engineering problems I solve directly contribute to the tech community around the globe and seeing people using my solution drives me daily to do what I do. Moreover, it gives me peace and satisfaction to solve challenging engineering problems. Witnessing my works making someone's life easier than before motivates me to dream big and work harder to achieve it. I take this award as a mirror that shows me the dedication and perseverance I have for the work I do. This award will be a springboard for me to dream big and work harder than ever before.

 

Academic Engagement: Graduate/Professional Academic Wizard

Edgar

Edgar Virguez

On receiving the award:

I am an energy systems engineer promoting an energy transition to a decarbonized power system. I believe that as a young institution, close to celebrating its first 100 years, Duke University should aspire to define a new higher-education model. One where every university member, regardless of their origin, ethnicity, or race, could access ample possibilities to build impressive careers. A structure where the upward social mobility change experienced by low-income students who access top-quality education will impact even developing countries. A system where we focus our efforts on improving the access for historically excluded members. A new education design where we maximize how we use knowledge in the service to society.

 

Civic Engagement: Global Impact on Campus & in Durham

Thuan

Thuan Tran

On receiving the award:

I am so excited and thankful to be awarded for my civic engagement by the very people who have inspired me to do what I do. Bridging the gap between my hometown and Duke has always been a goal of mine. Working with fellow Southeast Asians on the Technify Initiative, I help bring pro bono tech consulting to small NGOs and social enterprises making a positive impact in Southeast Asia. As the Communications Director for Duke Energy Club, I strive to diversify the club's membership by collaborating with cultural groups. Outside of Duke, I work on my startup CollatEd Lab, which helps young people solve problems regarding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. I will continue serving my communities as I move forward with my journey at Duke!

 

Creativity: Artistic Student of the Year

Maria

Maria Zurita Ontiveros

On receiving the award:

I do Theater because it is a way for me to fight for what I care about. The arts have given me a tool to process things in my life in a way that feels productive and cathartic. I take “art is the weapon” as a life motto. Art helps us deal with fear, with inequality, with tragedy and with oppression– it helps us fight back. Fundamentally, the arts give us hope, and that for me is Theater. As a director, my job is to empower everyone around me to do the best job they can do, and to lead fearlessly as we create art collaboratively. What motivates me is seeking justice and representation for Latinos and BIPOC artists, and also telling stories that are fundamentally human. This award provides hope to me that as an international student, I can pursue the arts as a career and that there is a place for immigrants and foreigners in theater in the United States.

 

Leadership: Student Leader of the Year

Anne

Anne Klok

On receiving the award:

I joined International Association (IA) my junior fall. After my experience as an IHOP, I wanted to continue connecting with the international community and advocating for issues I myself faced and more marginalized international students face. I have loved serving as co-president of IA, and I hope the work we have put in has made life a little better for international students. I want to thank all students in IA for devoting their time and energy to advocating for the international community, especially my co- president Hieu. Even during COVID, she found novel ways to keep pushing for our goals. I also want to emphasize that the international community rests on the work of International House and almost everything IA has accomplished has been with the help of Lisa, Ling, Esra, Paige, and Meda. Thank you for being amazing resources and allies!

 

Advocacy: Student Advocate of the Year

Tanisha

Tanisha Nalavadi

On receiving the award:

Diversity and inclusion is at the core of everything I do, from advocated for women in technology with Duke Technology Scholars to representing international students on Duke Student Government and the Covid Student Advisory Board. My motivation behind this is to create policies and programs that help address the challenges unique to international students and ensuring that future students have a diverse and united intentional student community that they may lean on. This award means a lot to me, not just because it would be a recognition of the time and dedication that I put into uplifting the voices of international students, but also because it would acknowledge the challenges that international students have faced, which often goes unrecognized on Duke's campus.

 

Student Group of the Year

Duke Desarrolla

For more than five years, Duke Desarrolla has contributed to the development of Latin America by encouraging partnerships between Duke students community, faculty, researchers, parents, and entities on the continent. This group of students believes that the problems and needs in Latin America can be addressed and solved, and collaboration between Duke and Latin America can help empower communities and allow them to take ownership of the solutions to their needs. Under stringent conditions during Covid-19, students were able to keep projects functioning in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Uruguay. Their work on Global Health, STEM curriculum, Women Empowerment, and Sustainable Development emphasize the multidisciplinary nature of their service. Last November, Desarrolla invited Dr. Ricardo Fábrega, Regional Advisor of Health Services Delivery at the Pan American Health Organization for a conversation on the ramifications of the pandemic and its effect on the Latin American communities and health systems.

 

Special thanks to Amy Bowes, Sinja Küppers, Dr. Alyssa K Perz, and Shawin Vitsupakorn for serving on the Awards Committee.