2020 Graduate Leadership Awards
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Congratulations to the recipients of Penn’s 2020 graduate student leadership awards! Each year, the University honors student leaders who are graduating from Penn with two awards: President & Provost's Honor for Developing New Initiatives in Graduate & Professional Student Life and the Dr. Andy Binns Award for Outstanding Service to Graduate and Professional Student Life.
This year nine graduating students are being recognized for their service and lasting contributions to graduate student life at Penn: Kevin Alicea-Torres (PhD Cell & Molecular Biology, PSOM); Gregory Callaghan (PhD Ancient History, SAS); Gina Chang (MD & MPH, PSOM; Jonathan Hoffman (JD, Penn Law); David Kirui (PhD Sociology, SAS); Matthew Lee (PhD, Nursing); Shichun (Asminet) Ling (PhD Criminology, SAS); Silicia (Lolo) Lomax (MPH, PSOM); & Sudhir (Sid) Radhakrishna (MBA, Wharton) .
Each of these honorees has volunteered their time to improve life at Penn for their fellow grad students, and our campus is a better place for their efforts. Read more about these students' contributions and the awards they received below.
President's & Provost's Honor for Developing New Initiatives in Graduate & Professional Student Life
This award is presented to students who have initiated lasting new developments that have enhanced graduate and professional student life at Penn. This year, four students are being recognized with this award:
Kevin Alicea-Torres, PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology, Biomedical Graduate Studies, Perelman School of Medicine
While pursuing his PhD in cell and molecular biology, Kevin founded Penn's chapter of SACNAS, the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, and served as the group’s president from 2016-18. Penn’s SACNAS chapter has been recognized as an outstanding chapter by the national organization. Kevin has also been actively involved in science outreach and the retention and recruitment of underrepresented students in STEM, including co-founding Caminos en Ciencia (“Pathways in Sciences”, a Spanish-language podcast that explores the challenges, successes and lessons learned by Latinx researchers and students along their careers and training in science.
Gregory Callaghan, PhD in Ancient History, School of Arts & Sciences
Greg has held a variety of leadership roles on campus during his graduate career, including as the departmental representative (2015-16) and vice president of financial operations (2016-17) for SASGov, president of SASGov (2017-18), and as finance deputy for the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) and the G12 GAP program (2017-18). As chair of GAPSA’s Research Student Council in 2018-19, Greg worked closely with University administrators to implement an expanded GAPSA-Provost Interdisciplinary Fellowship, as well as representing graduate student interests on various University committees. As president of GAPSA in 2019-20, Greg focused on developing and passing a series of structural reforms to improve how GAPSA operates, with the goal of better positioning the organization to meet the growing and varied interests of Penn graduate and professional students. Greg worked closely with Matthew Lee (honored below) and other members of GAPSA’s executive board to lay out a vision, process, and guiding principles for the reorganization. They consulted with students and administrators to develop the final model that was approved in March 2020. For his leadership and vision, the University of Pennsylvania recognizes Greg on the occasion of his graduation.
Gina Chang, MD & Master of Public Health, Perelman School of Medicine
As a first year medical student, Gina Chang partnered with classmate Dan Zhang (MD/PhD candidate, PSOM) in 2016 to co-found the Penn Med Symphony Orchestra (PMSO) in July 2016 allow medical students and professionals to still share in a musical community while also acknowledging their busy schedules.. The PMSO now comprises more than 80 Penn doctors, nurses, and grad students from a variety of health-related fields across the University. In addition to enabling participants to stay engaged in a deeply fulfilling and creative practice, the orchestra enables Penn professionals and students to connect through a shared interest in music, and provides free concerts to the Penn community. In 2019-20, Gina has worked to transition management of the orchestra to a Penn staff member, as well as to establish formal advisory board to provide musical guidance and continuity to the group. Through Gina’s efforts and leadership, PSOM appears set to continue operating and growing long after she graduates.
Matthew Lee, PhD in Nursing, Nursing
As GAPSA’s mental health deputy chair for student life in 2017-18 and chair for student life in 2018-19, Matt focused on promoting graduate student wellness and changing perceptions of mental health on campus. Through his roles in GAPSA and as a graduate student representative on University committees, Matt has helped coordinate and promote a range of wellness programs and has been a tireless advocate for addressing graduate student mental health. In 2018-19 Matt founded the Penn Franklins, a peer-to-peer graduate student support organization modeled on the successful Penn Benjamins undergraduate peer support group. As the vice president of GAPSA in 2019-20, Matt worked closely with president Greg Callaghan (above) to develop a plan to reorganize GAPSA to better meet the needs of its members and the broader Penn graduate and professional student community. In addition to shepherding GAPSA through a period of major transitions, Matt played a key role in ensuring the successful approval of the GAPSA restructuring plan in March 2020.
Dr. Andy Binns Award for Outstanding Service to Graduate and Professional Student Life
This award is presented to graduate or professional students, upon their graduation from Penn, who have significantly impacted graduate and professional student life through service involvement in student life initiatives or organizations. Five students received the Andy Binns Award this year:
Jonathan Hoffman (Law) for outstanding leadership and service through the Jewish Law Students Association and mentorship programs in the School of Law.
David Kirui (PhD Sociology, SAS) for his service and leadership as co-chair of the Fontaine Coordinating Committee and president of BGAPSA and contributions to both organizations during periods of transition.
Shichun (Asminet) Ling (PhD Criminology, SAS) for outstanding service and leadership through her roles in SASGov and as co-president of Penn Franklins. Asminet is the outgoing president of SASGov (2018-20).
Silicia Lomax (MPH, PSOM) for her for leadership and service as president of the Penn First Graduate Association and through her role as FGLI deputy for GAPSA’s equity & access chair during a period of transition.
Sudhir (Sid) Radhakrishna (MBA, Wharton) for leadership in founding and making efforts to institutionalize and ensure the continuity of Climate Leaders @Penn.