Annually, the deans for each of the eleven colleges at the University of Iowa are asked to select outstanding underrepresented students for this award who have exemplified, promoted, or contributed to diversity at the University of Iowa. Students receive a certificate designating them as a Dean’s Achievement Award recipient.
Moala Bannavti - Graduate College
Moala Bannavti is graduating with her master’s in Sustainable Water Development and plans to obtain her Ph.D. She is a graduate research assistant in Hydroscience and Engineering. Moala, raised in a New Jersey suburb, is a first-generation immigrant from Cameroon who has dedicated her research and personal efforts to various diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives across campus. She serves as the DEI Chair for GPSG, member of the GRAD-DEI Advisory Board and worked with the college of engineering diversity committee to establish the first Celebrating Diversity in Engineering conference and is working with DRT to establish additional DEI training
Daisy Cruz - College of Law
Daisy Cruz is a J.D. candidate in the College of Law from Los Angeles, CA. She was a member of the Hispanic/Latino Law Student Association, Iowa Law’s Diversity Committee, the Graduate and Professional Student Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the University-wide Latinx Council. She was elected and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, Volume 23. Daisy has volunteered at the Women’s Resource and Action Center and served as a volunteer mentor at the Latino and Native American Cultural Center. After graduation, Daisy will return to Southern California and represent migrant farmworker communities.
Nouran Felo - Carver College of Medicine
Nouran Felo is graduating with her medical degree from the Carver College of Medicine. She is a first-generation college graduate who was born in Damascus, Syria and grew up in North Hollywood, CA. Nouran has been extremely involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at the CCOM. She has served in leadership for the Student National Medical Association, as well as the Chair of Diversity for CCOM’s Student Government. She has served as a mentor and support for numerous graduate and undergraduate students. Nouran has matched in Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, and will start there this summer.
Celine Fender - College of Education
Celine Fender will complete her master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) this spring. Originally from New York City, Celine grew up primarily in North Liberty, IA. Celine has been a leader with student-athlete academic services, the Iowa REACH program, and in the College of Business. She is active on Dr. Watt’s Multicultural Initiatives Research Team. Celine advocates for equity for all students and particularly, student-athletes with minoritized identities at the University of Iowa. She has been awarded an ACT fellowship and the Jones and Hemphill Scholarship. Celine will pursue her Ph.D. in HESA beginning this summer.
Tobías García Vega - College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Tobías García Vega, of Ames, IA, graduates with a BA with Honors in Philosophy and a Spanish minor. His honors thesis is titled Saving Rawlsian Selfhood. He was an editor of Labyrinth and a member of Minorities and Philosophy. He earned the national distinctions of Phi Beta Kappa and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Award. He is also a Rhodes Dunlap Scholar, a UI Advantage Iowa Scholar, and has repeatedly appeared on the President’s and Dean’s List. Tobías volunteered and translated at the Center for Worker Justice in Iowa City. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Philosophy.
Ruchira Laroia - College of Dentistry
Ruchira T. Laroia is a senior student in the College of Dentistry who grew up in Iowa City, IA. As a dental student at the UI, she served as the Iowa American Student Dental Association Legislative Liaison and Legislative Grassroots Network representative. She's a Dean’s Student Leadership Award Recipient and an advocate at the American Dental Association’s Dentist and Student Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Dental Counseling Office Student Advisory Board and participated in multiple Iowa Mission of Mercy dental events. Ruchira plans to pursue a career in private practice as a General Dentist.
Anibal Mares Marquez - Tippie College of Business
Anibal Mares Marquez is graduating with a BBA in Accounting and a certificate in International Business. Anibal grew up in Mexico and immigrated ten years ago to Rock Valley, IA. He served as an inaugural mentor for the BizEdge program, resident mentor for the Gateway Program, peer mentor for the Tippie Direct Admit seminar, and peer leader for the Iowa Edge program. He studied abroad in northern Italy with the CIMBA program. After completing a summer internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers, he was offered and accepted a full-time position as a risk assurance associate.
Russell Martin - College of Engineering
Russell Martin, the senior in the Roy J. Carver Department of Biomedical Engineering, has worked as an undergraduate researcher and received many national awards. Russell has worked with high school students as an undergraduate research mentor and as a research ambassador. In St. Lucia, he worked with first-grade students as an early childhood education volunteer and was a team leader on the Hawkeye Service Teams service-learning experience in Kansas City. His volunteer work has addressed youth education inequality, and his mentoring of UI students helped first-year chemistry students develop study skills and engineering students improve written work and job application materials.
Guadalupe Muñoz Rocha - Graduate College
Guadalupe Muñoz Rocha, a master’s candidate in Civil & Environmental Engineering originally from Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico and raised in Chicago, IL, has been involved in many diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across campus. She worked closely with the diversity committee in the college of engineering to plan the first Celebrating Diversity in Engineering conference. She is also an active member of GPSG, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), UI Latinx Council and has used her networks with Latinx professionals at Collins Aerospace to provide workshops and volunteering opportunities for SHPE members and increased the chapter’s Latinx graduate membership by 33%.
Shruti Naik - College of Nursing
From Carol Stream, IL, Shruti Naik will earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the UI College of Nursing. Shruti is on the Dean’s List and helped early admission and pre-nursing underrepresented and first-generation students through her work as a College of Nursing Supplemental Instructor and Tutor in Animal Biology and Human Anatomy. Shruti ‘s senior community health project was with Fifth Ward Saints North, whose mission is to provide at-risk youth social and emotional training/support via educational programs that inspire healthy choices. After graduation, Shruti will work at NICU2 at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.
Eesha Patel - College of Pharmacy
Eesha Patel, BA (‘15), is a Doctor of Pharmacy candidate from Osceola, IA, and was raised in Kenya before immigrating to the U.S. in 2002. Eesha has excelled as a student leader at the university. She has served the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics through research and volunteerism related to pharmacy practice by ensuring patients had accurate medication histories upon admission to UIHC. She organized educational events and competitions, promoted organ donation awareness, and coordinated speakers and health screenings related to chronic kidney disease. Following graduation, Eesha will complete pharmacy residency training with MercyOne Medical Center in Waterloo, Iowa.
Isabella Senno - College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Isabella Senno, from Evanston, IL, will graduate with a BS degree in Anthropology, a BA degree in Psychology, and a minor in Spanish. Senno is a University Honors student and Phi Beta Kappa member, also earning Honors in the Major in Anthropology. Her many merit scholarships include National Scholars, Advantage Iowa, and Rhodes Dunlap. She currently works at the Women’s Resource and Action Center and serves as the president of the UI Anthropology Club and Student Advocates for Planned Parenthood. After graduation, Senno will continue working to support womxn and Latinx communities and eventually pursue a graduate degree.
Darian Thompson - College of Public Health
Darian Thompson, from Cedar Rapids, IA, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree and a certificate in cultural competency. Darian was a Senator with UI Student Government and served on the DEI and Sustainability Committees. He was Treasurer for the Minority Association of Pre-Medicine Students (MAPS), and a Hawkeye Service Team Leader. As an intern for the Commission of Public Health Systems, Darian advocated for marginalized, vulnerable, and uninsured populations in New York. Upon graduation, Darian plans to continue work to address systematic injustices and health equity and is applying for a position with AmeriCorps.