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2024 Germantown Honors and Awards Convocation

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The Presidential Academic Excellence Award

Only one student on each campus is selected to receive the Presidential Academic Excellence Award, making it one of the most distinguished campus awards to be presented each year.  All nominees must meet the following criteria: 1) outstanding scholarship (GPA of 3.5 or above), 2) outstanding leadership to the College or Community, and 3) outstanding service to the College or the Community.  Nominations are reviewed by a committee who has the very difficult task of selecting just one student from their campus to receive this award.  Each award recipient receives a plaque as well as a monetary award to continue their education.

Brian Shaffer

Brian Shaffer has maintained a 4.0 GPA while completing 26 honors credits and is a member of the Renaissance Scholar and STEM Honors Scholar programs. Brian is president of the Germantown Campus chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, a leader of the STEM Ambassadors, a member of the Student Government Association, the student representative on the Germantown Campus Council, and a participant in MC Leads and the Social Justice and Inclusive Leadership Institute. Brian also works to reduce discrimination and promote inclusivity throughout the College community. By way of the College’s governance system, he advocated for students to have the ability to request name changes in College rosters for courses and in the student government listings. 

Brian is an avid volunteer in the community offering help and assistance whenever possible. He has opted to participate in the Manna Food Smart Sacks Food Packing program, the Montgomery County Weed Warriors organization working to control non-native invasive species, and numerous STEM-related outreach activities for the College and greater community. Though a paid position, Brian continues to serve others in the MC Disability Center tutoring students with varying disabilities helping them understand their coursework, comprehend instructions, and work on time management. Congratulations, Brian!

Honors Program Scholars Awards

Recognition of students who have completed at least 12 credits of honors coursework in at least 2 disciplines and maintained at least a 3.4 GPA by the end of the fall semester.

Each of the students being awarded today have not only excelled academically on a consistent basis but have also demonstrated service with expertise, empathy, enthusiasm, and excellence, despite any challenge faced while pursuing their studies.

  • Alexandra Lindsay
  • Brian Shaffer
  • Lady Sanjines
  • Paola Cardona
  • Vladimir Alvarado

Nominated by Dr. Lucy Laufe, Collegewide Honors Program Director and Chair

Alexandra Lindsay

Alex Lindsay is a Renaissance Scholar who has a stellar GPA and has earned 38 credits in honors. Her academic achievements abound in both the sciences and the humanities. At the Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference 2024, she received an award for her science presentation on "The Stress Response, Vagus Nerve, and Its Effect on the Simple Columnar Epithelium; her presentation of "Lincoln's Leadership: His Prudence, His Wisdom, and His Courage" was a tour de force. For her B.A., she plans to major in neurology and pursue a related field for her Ph.D.

Brian Shaffer

Brian Shaffer is not only a Renaissance Scholar but a STEM Scholar as well; he is equally at home in science and in the humanities. and has a total of 29 credits in honors. He is President of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society and has consistently pursued excellence in academics at Montgomery College. However, his pursuit of excellence has not precluded his service to others: from 2022 to the present, Brian has served others in the MC Disability Center, tutoring and helping students with varying disabilities to understand their coursework. He does this with empathy, patience, and a gentle sense of humor. For his B.A., Brian plans to study biology and pursue a related field for his graduate work.

Rishi Nixon

Rishi Nixon is a Renaissance Scholar; he is majoring in mathematics, has a stellar GPA , and 22 credits in honors. He is a dual enrollment student and will be graduating from high school at the same time he is graduating from college. As well as mathematics, he is interested in public policy and contributed thoughtful insights and advice in his role as the student member of the Montgomery College Board of Trustees. 

Students were nominated by Ms. Joan Naake, Director, Renaisance Scholars Honors Program

Veer Banwait

Nominated by Dr. Rebin Muhammad, Mathematics

Brian Shaffer

During his time at Montgomery College, Brian has become an integral part of our honors student community. In addition to being a STEM Scholars Honors Student, Brian is also a Renaissance Scholar and a member of Phi Theta Kapp (PTK).  Not only does Brian take advantage of the opportunities in our Honors Program for himself, he ensures his fellow students are benefiting as well by serving in and sharing about the Honors Program.

Nominated by Dr. Thomas Chen, STEM Scholars Program Co-Coordinator

Departmental Academic Achievement Awards

Outstanding Business Student Award

Lucas Craven
Nominated by Mr. Brian Berman, Business

Excellence in Accounting Award

Veer Banwait
Carter Hyde
Edison Wu
Julio Esmieu
Panisara Sueprasert
Shin La Wun
Vincent Dao

Students were nominated by Mr. Richard Gottfried, Accounting

Mary Gallagher Award for Anthropology

Anastasia Merkulova
Karen Casique

Students were nominated by Dr. Maria Sprehn, Anthropology

Biology Student Achievement Award

Julian Demayas 

Julian is a dedicated student who has demonstrated broad interest and a desire to succeed in their biology classes. Julian can often be found studying and helping others in the Science Learning Center. In addition to excellent academic performance in his biology coursework, Julian's honors research on bluebirds will be presented at the 2024 Maryland Collegiate STEM Conference and will be published.

Nominated by The Germantown Biology Faculty

Biotechnology Achievement Award

Nisha Dev 

Nisha Dev impresses us with her hard work, perfect GPA, and professional demeanor. She will earn her Biotechnology Certificate in May, and has been working on an undergraduate research project characterizing NISTCHO cells.

Williams Ochoa

Williams Ochoa is a MC Biotech/GSK Biomanufacturing Apprentice completing his degree in May. Williams works full-time at GSK while earning his degree from MC. Williams has been honored with a number of special opportunities: he participated in the NIIMBL eXperience, and served on a 2023 White House workforce panel with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and MC President Jermaine Williams.

Students were nominated by Dr. Lori Kelman, Biotechnology

Excellence in Chemistry Award

Toan Nguyen 

Toan Nguyen, a pre-pharmacy student, has demonstrated consistent excellence throughout two years of chemistry.  He is an outstanding discussion and lab partner, who shares his expertise enthusiastically with everyone around him. His work with others at MC has also extended to offering exceptional tutoring in our Science Learning Center.

Nominated by Ms. Susan Bontems, Chemistry

Excellence in Organic Chemistry Award

Anna Cantilena

Anna Cantilena has demonstrated the highest aptitude in Organic Chemistry, asking exceptionally insightful questions throughout the year. Her scores are near perfection on exams, quizzes and on lab reports. Most impressive is her truly exceptional score on the standardized American Chemical Society exam, which put her in the top 98th percentile nationwide.  

Nominated by Ms. Susan Bontems, Chemistry

Student Excellence Award in Integrated English, Reading and Writing (IERW)

Catrina Sustaita

Catrina Sustaita is an exceptional student. The qualities of determination, leadership, and patience are evident in Catrina.  With excellent writing and critical thinking skills, Catrina excels in IERW 001. As a retired Marine and all-around beautiful spirit, Catrina epitomizes the College’s mission statement of enriching the MC community.

Student Excellence Award in Writing

Lujala Shakya

Lujala Shakya is an exemplary student who always completes her assignments to the utmost satisfaction. She is very patient and helpful with her classmates, always listening, answering questions, and collaborating on assignments.  Furthermore, her writing has steadily improved as she outstandingly applies what she has learned in her essays. She also uses her experience as the child of an immigrant family to bring a unique yet relatable experience to her readers. 

Maahira Rubaiya

Maahira Rubaiya has a strong command of the English language that enables her to articulate her thoughts and communicate effectively with scholars, scientists, linguists, STEAMers, language learners, and people from all backgrounds. Her enhanced reading, writing, and research skills have made her successful in navigating the complex and challenging environment of higher education.

Emma Overholt

Emma Overholt is an enthusiastic student of English, history, and current events, as well as an excellent narrative writer. Her candor sets her apart from other students, and her willingness to use feedback has led to great improvement in her writing. Emma is responsible, thorough, and perhaps most importantly, a joy to have in class due to her contributions. 

Ishan Pahwa

Ishan Pahwa is one of the most exceptional students his English professor has ever taught at MC.  Ishan’s attention to detail and complex subject matters truly distinguishes him from his peers. Writing about everything from culture to foreign policy, Ishan’s writing is technically sound and fascinating to read.

Omari Ogbu

Omari Ogbu is an excellent student who could be teaching our ENGL 102 course. He learns new concepts and skills quickly and masterfully applies those skills to his writing assignments. He possesses the wisdom to choose topics he cares greatly about and then researches them with passion and attention to detail. It is a pleasure to have Omari in class, and he is very deserving of this award.

Sophia Kalinyak

Sophia Kalinyak is a first-year student at MC whose love for writing permeated all her ENGL 101/011 essays.  During this course, she selected an engaging assortment of essay topics such as the role of empathy in our rapidly globalizing world, the migration story of her great-great-grandmother, the process of raising egg-laying chickens in one’s backyard, and the similarities and differences discovered between her Costa Rican virtual exchange partner and herself. Throughout the course, Sophia demonstrated a strong desire to improve her skill as a writer, which she accomplished through careful reflection during every stage of the writing process.  Sophia always contributed happily during class discussions and served as a leader and esteemed peer review partner for her classmates. 

Svetlana Venediktova

Svetlana Venediktova is an extremely talented writer and student.  She possesses a brilliant mind, a warm heart, a vibrant drive to learn, a love of the beauty of words, and powerful leadership skills. Her writing is distinguished by mesmerizing imagery, insightful observation, and keen analysis. She rises to any challenge and does so with a positive outlook. Guided by her unflagging love of animals, Svetlana aspires to be a vet, and with her caring and compassionate nature, she will help many animals live happier and healthier lives. 

Students were nominated by the Germantown English and Reading Faculty

Peer Mentor Excellence Award

Ishan Gomber
Isoken Ikpea

Lucas Craven

Lucas Craven is an Early College student in the Business cohort and plans to earn his associate’s degree by the time he graduates from high school. He loves to help students with grammar, especially with commas, as well as with writing a strong thesis statement and using feedback effectively to improve their writing. He currently manages his classes while working part-time at Chipotle and managing the Early College Discord Server with almost 500 students. Additionally, he is looking forward to transferring to the University of Maryland at College Park to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business management.

Sahana Audhithan

Sahana Audhithan, an Early College student at MC, will be graduating this spring 2024 with an AAS and certificate in Biotechnology. Sahana currently works as a research associate at NIST to explore the development and use of biological products for cancer therapy. As a student peer mentor, Sahana loved sharing passion for using essay writing and research to communicate opinions, tell stories, and present facts. Sahana acknowledges that writing is a powerful tool that every field utilizes, even science. As a peer mentor, Sahana emphasized the basic principles of writing, such as grammar and organization, that students could have in their toolboxes for the rest of their careers. Sahana plans to attend a four-year college or university and earn a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.

Thanya Balamurugan
Vansh Sharma

Students were nominated by Ms. Deborah Stuart, English and Reading

The Sapling Award for Peer Tutor Growth

Alice Phann

Alice Phann joined the Germantown Writing, Reading, and Language Center team at the start of the Fall 2023 semester as a peer tutor. During this time, she has demonstrated passionate commitment to the work and spirit of a writing tutor. Her consistent ability to self-question and self-reflect, especially regarding tutoring best practices, have proven that integrity and self-development are at her core.

Nominated by Ms. Elysse Meredith and Ms. Mimi Yu

Community Health Student of the Year

Edith Angel Carrasco

Edith Angel Carrasco embodies the true essence of community health through her constant desire to reach out and assist other students and members of her in her community any way she can. Edith’s passion is to make a difference in the life of others, and this is evident to all those around her. Additionally, Edith excels academically, maintaining a 3.92 GPA, which showcases her diligence and commitment to excellence in her studies.

Nominated by Dr. Joanna Kilby, Community Health Program Coordinator

Excellence in International Studies

Soha Mustafa

Soha Mustafa, a Business major, is an interdisciplinary thinker and activist, bringing together insights from art, fashion, business, history, and political science to teach us about how to be more compassionate and staunch defenders of human rights locally and globally.

Nominated by Ms. Jennifer Haydel, Department Chair, Humanities

Excellence in Political Science

Aline Skains

Courtney Aline Skains is a well-rounded political thinker who regularly brings together insights from American Government, International Relations, and Comparative Politics. In her American Government class, she brought together the scholarship and applied politics in her voter outreach guidance created for the League of Women Voters. In her Transitional Justice class, she raised awareness about the lasting legacies of genocide by depicting the resilience of the Herero people through art.

Samara Husain

Samara Husain's scholarship in Comparative Politics and Transitional Justice sheds light on the power of collective memory, language, and nationalism. In a public presentation surrounding the Day of the Dead commemorations at Montgomery College, Samara taught attendees about the power of International Mother Language Day in Bangladesh. Her work started as classroom projects but became scholarship shared with the MC community.

Students were nominated by Ms. Jennifer Haydel, Department Chair, Humanities

Kenneth P. Levenson Memorial Award in History and Political Science

Jack M. Davis

Jack has excelled in a wide variety of History and Political Science classes at Montgomery College, and has been a Godsend to those instructors who have had the good fortune to have him in a Remote format. We wish Jack all the best as he continues his academic pilgrimage in pursuit of a Doctoral Degree in European History.

Nominated by Dr. Kurt J. Borkman, History and Political Science

Excellence in World Languages Award

Zahra “Orion” Chandler

Orion has been a joy to have in three of my Spanish courses in the year. They have such a curious nature about how language works and makes connections between their own cultural life experiences and those of Spanish speaking communities. As soon as Orion enters the class (either in person or Zoom), there is a positive vibe, a readiness to learn that is contagious! I am very proud of Orion!

Nominated by Ms. Carla Naranjo, World Languages-Spanish

Outstanding Student in Mathematics Award
STEM Ambassador of the Year Award

Michael E. Lopez

Michael is one of our most active STEM Ambassadors, as well as getting straight A's in his upper level and Honors math courses. In the past semester, Michael has logged over 40 volunteer hours while keeping up with his coursework as a Secondary Mathematics Education major. Michael would like to become a teacher in the future, and he will be one of the best.

Nominated by Ms. Nafeesa Azizi and Dr. Zhou “Jojo” Dong, Mathematics

Excellence in Computer Science Award

Rayn Anwar

Apart from his academic excellence, Rayn possesses outstanding communication skills. He can convey complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner, making him an effective communicator both in written and oral forms. His ability to articulate his ideas and collaborate effectively with his peers is a testament to his strong interpersonal skills, which will undoubtedly contribute to his success in a diverse and multicultural academic environment overseas. 

Veer Banwait

Veer is an exceptional student - his eagerness to learn was on display from his very first semester at MC. He is a 4.0 student in the classroom, and a major contributor to the College outside the classroom as well, including founding the student AI club, and helping win an award for a student team at DATA Fest. Veer is a naturally curious person - his love for both math and music led him to a summer internship at an AI company.

William Chiang

I strongly believe William’s sound knowledge of fundamentals, a truly remarkable ability to apply theory to practical situations. He is a remarkable, young man with, exceptional talent. The most important ingredient of his character is his ‘never say die’ attitude which stands out. His strong desire to search deep, I believe, makes him what he is. This added to his passion for the subject gives him a unique edge over his peers and makes him an excellent student.

Natalie Figueira

Natalie distinguished herself by submitting projects and assignements on time. I would rank her in the top 2% of students that I have taught in the past two years in respect of her coding ability and documentation skills. Overall, Natalie is highly intelligent and has good analytical skills. Her projects and assignments demonstrated her ability to have a detailed understanding of the computer programming concepts. Her overall intelligence is also reflected in her grades for both courses, which were by far the best in the class. Natalie has excellent communication skills. Her written documentation is both clear and concise. Natalie was highly proficient in applying the course material in her assignments and class discussions.

Cybil Kechem

What truly distinguishes Cybil is her exceptional hard work and perseverance and dedication to coming up with different approaches for the same problem statement. She has consistently sought opportunities to expand her knowledge beyond the classroom. Cybil has consistently demonstrated her ability to work collaboratively in teams and produce exceptional results. Her passion for computer science is evident in her willingness to invest her personal time in exploring emerging technologies and staying up-to-date with the latest trends in the field.

Kate Angela Lano

Kate always explained her assignment solutions very well and demonstrated good teamwork skills in group assignments. On a personal level, Kate is a well-disciplined, industrious student with a pleasant personality. She went well beyond the course requirements in the quantity and quality of her projects, putting in a lot of extra reading outside the class and attending office hours every week.

Sonu Mahat

Sonu always participates in the class discussions and helps her classmates with solutions to the examples provided in the class. She always submits her assignments on time and reaches out to the instructor for details of the assignment to ensure every requirment is clear to her.

Tara Murugesan

Tara has consistently excelled in my classes, achieved top grades and actively participated in classroom discussions. Tara is not only knowledgeable in the theoretical aspects of computer science, but she also possesses strong practical skills that she has acquired through various coding projects and extracurricular activities.

Patrick Syme

Overall, Patrick is highly intelligent and has good analytical skills. His projects and assignments demonstrated his ability to have a detailed understanding of the computer programming concepts. His overall intelligence is also reflected in his grades for both courses, which were by far the best in the class. Patrick has excellent communication skills. His written documentation is both clear and concise. Patrick was highly proficient in applying the course material in his assignments and class discussions. He always explained his assignment solutions very well. He is also working at NIST as an intenr of the NIST Prep Internship provided by MC.

Students were nominated by Ms. Farnaz Eivazi, Computer Science

Excellence in Cybersecurity Award

Each of the students being recognized have not only excelled academically on a consistent basis but have also demonstrated service with expertise, empathy, enthusiasm, and excellence, despite any challenge faced while pursuing their studies. To qualify, students must possess these traits and a minimum of a 3.25 GPA.

  • Alexandra El Kochta
  • Dominique Davis
  • Femina Amoo
  • Firaol Nigus
  • Flor Enriquez Aldana
  • Guy Stephane
  • Henok Semu
  • Kweku Agyepong
  • Nikola Vuckovic
  • Tayven Smith

Students were nominated by Ms. Silvia Vargas, Cybersecurity Program Coordinator

Engineering: Athena Award

Victor Matthias

Nominated by Ms. Monica Mellini, Engineering

MVP Award for Engineering Teamwork
  • David Paz Menendez
  • David Sanders
  • Derrick Jones
  • Fabian Chombo Lizarraga
  • Vambely Manhica 

Students were nominated by Ms. Monica Mellini, Engineering

Internships and Experiential Learning Opportunities

STEM-oriented program at the NIST facility in Gaithersburg where students work on projects related to various scientific research programs.

  • Maryanne Amanze
  • Sahana Audhithan
  • Lilya Fraigui
  • Robsun Gina
  • Brianna Makogon
  • Patrick Syme
  • Mihali Tsinonis
  • Cicilia Vederman
  • Benjamin Viana 
  • Antsokiya Adelahu
  • Angelo Aguillon
  • Yury Alvarez
  • Chisom Anyanwu
  • Yanit Asamnew
  • Telmen Bayatbaatra
  • Paria Chehreghani
  • Kayla Diaz
  • Emmelyne Diep
  • Tanvi Gupta
  • Duchelle Blanche Kemoue Feukou
  • Michael Lopez
  • Vamberly Dalkon Manhica
  • Maria Marques
  • Alena Nguyen
  • Huan Ethan Nguyen
  • Kenny Nguyen
  • Oluwanifise Otesile
  • Thejitha Rajapakshe
  • Suneth Ramawickrama Gamachchige
  • Yonatan Tussa
  • Laura Andrea Vargas Munoz