Ten University of Nebraska-Lincoln students — eight undergraduates and two graduate students — were awarded Student Luminary Awards to recognize their exceptional leadership and commitment to improving the campus and community.
The awards were announced during an April 16 reception at the Nebraska Champions Club. Those selected demonstrate help every Husker feel valued, create a positive campus environment, advocate for positive change, demonstrate a significant and active commitment to inclusion and model academic excellence inside and outside the classroom.
Each student was nominated by faculty or staff members on campus and will receive $1,000.
Learn more about this year’s Student Luminaries below.
Lizbeth Daniela Chavez
Chavez, a senior art major from Grand Island, was honored as a Student Luminary for her passionate involvement in honors clubs and ASUN Student Government, and for helping establish the Dr. Michael W. Combs Honors Scholars.
“Scholars of color will thank her for her effort for years to come because she has helped to create an avenue for students to affect change in the honors program and on campus,” Shannon Mangram, nominator, said.
Duong, a senior dance and public relations major from Saigon, Vietnam, was honored as a Student Luminary for her advocacy for mental health, the LGBT community, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Her efforts to mobilize students, alumni and community members helped save the dance program at the university.
“Thao demonstrates in so many areas of her life being an example to others of how to be present, engaged and following her own beliefs for the greater good,” Susan Ourada, nominator, said.
Fink, a senior advertising and public relations major from Hebron, was honored as a Student Luminary for his commitment to developing a new student organization and supporting LGBTQIA students. Nominators applaud his ability to lead change, advocate for others and to step into the unknown.
“Collin Fink has impacted so many people through his leadership, courage and advocacy. He doesn’t just react to change that comes his way, he is the catalyst to changing systems, organizations and people into what they can be,” Jasie Beam, nominator, said.
Headlee, a graduate student in architecture from Omaha, was honored as a Student Luminary for her leadership of the Student Planning Association of Nebraska as well as her community building among peers and contributions to flood recovery in Nebraska.
“She spent a lot of time and energy to promote student communications and engagement to create active learning culture for the students. Even in this difficult year with COVID-19, Anna still organized a number of events to encourage students and facilitate the networking with the professional organization,” Zhenghong Tang, nominator, said.
Ibrahim, a junior political science and global studies major from Lincoln, was honored as a Student Luminary for her poised and model leadership of the African Student Association and Black Student Union to drive change in the campus and community.
“This was a daunting task, but it was one that she could not shrink from. She knew that in order for us to feel safe as Black people, not only in the United States but in our city and in our campus, that we had to be heard—and she continues that work to this day,” Jeanette Jones, nominator, said.
Long, a senior journalism and political science major from Beloit, Kansas, was honored as a Student Luminary for his integrity, strong work ethic, stellar academic record, and commitment to inclusivity through his roles in the Honors program, New Student Enrollment, the Innocents Society and ASUN Student Government.
“He shines brightly among our students selflessly and endlessly working to leave his legacy by bettering campus,” Tamy Burnett, nominator, said.
Nour, a junior biochemistry major from Lincoln, was honored as a Student Luminary for her leadership, encouragement and the constructive feedback she provides through her involvements in Black Student Union, African Student Association, ASUN Student Government, the Innocents Society and her commitments to research through the McNair Scholars program.
“Aiah has repeatedly shown herself to be a highly driven student but more importantly, she is a caring and compassionate person who seeks to use the resources she has to improve the lives and experiences of her communities,” Carol Boehler, nominator, said.
Pilkington, a senior software engineering major from Lincoln, was honored as a Student Luminary for his selfless leadership, inclusivity and authenticity exhibited through roles as a Resident Assistant and a Teaching Assistant.
“He is reliable, brings issues and concerns to me as we serve students. He finds innovative ways to serve students and more than anything connects with his peers,” Ann Koopman, nominator, said.
Pir, a doctoral student from Lincoln, was honored as a Student Luminary for his commitment to supporting Yazidi refugees on campus through educating others, locally by advising the city of Lincoln and through his creation of the Yazidi Cultural Center where Yazidi children receive summer classes in Kurmanji and learn about their culture and religion, and worldwide through Yazda, an international organization he co-founded.
“Hadi is a fearless community leader who puts in an incredible the amount of time to help Lincoln’s community (and the Yazidi diaspora at large) while being a doctoral student, teaching assistant, and father of two young girls,” Theresa Catalano, nominator, said.
Woerner, a junior from Bellevue majoring in economics, environmental sciences, natural resource and environmental economics, was honored as a Student Luminary for her unwavering commitment to making a difference through sustainability and climate change, social justice and giving back to her local community.
“This woman has an amazing amount of energy, and it’s all focused. It’s all focused in a very positive way, in a very uplifting way, in a way that really spreads across the classroom at Anderson Hall, or the campus, or the union steps, or the organic farm, or Chuck Hagel’s sphere,” Joe Starita, nominator, said.