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2023 Germantown Honors and Awards Convocation

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.

Normand Bayigamba

Normand Bayigamba’s academic excellence is well-documented and evidenced by his 3.87 GPA, including 27 honors courses, 12 more than he needs to graduate with an Honors designation on his transcript. He was unanimously accepted to the Renaissance Scholars Honor Program, inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society, and accepted to the Johns Hopkins University Humanities Collaboratory Summer Research Program. He presented his research and findings at the Johns Hopkins Summer 2022 Humanities Undergraduate Symposium, and was selected to present his research on the Rwandan Genocide at the Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference in February.

Normand’s pursuit of excellence, however, does not preclude him from participating in extracurricular activities and giving back to others. He is president of the Renaissance Scholars Honor Club, an NJCAA basketball player for MC, a member of the Black Student Union, and an outreach director and delegate for Montgomery County’s Zenerations Maryland. He participated in MC Votes, the MC Food Security Team and March for Our Lives, and was selected for the Montgomery College Presidential Scholars Program.

Normand is also proficient in three languages: French, Kinyarwanda, and English, and hopes to focus on the welfare of others in the future – perhaps in the US or perhaps in Rwanda, the country from which his family was forced to flee for their own safety. His engagement beyond the classroom exemplifies a student who is academically successful, who gives back to the college and the community, and who supports other students to strengthen the educational possibilities at Montgomery College. Congratulations, Normand!

Transfer Scholarships Through Phi Theta Kappa

(National Honors Society for 2-year schools)

Honors Program Scholars Awards

Normand Bayigamba

Normand Bayigamba has taken over 27 honors credits at Montgomery College.  In addition, he has contributed immensely to the intellectual discourse of the Renaissance Scholars Honors Program. He is a role model for other honors students.

Olivia Keller

Olivia Keller has flourished in her Renaissance Scholars Honors Courses.  In addition, she thrives on interdisciplinary thinking and research. She is also a role model for other honors students.

Marina Martins

Marina Martins has taken over 17 credits in Renaissance honors courses at Montgomery College. In addition, she has contributed immensely to the intellectual discourse of the Renaissance Scholars Honors Program. She is also a role model for other honors students.

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

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.

  • Normand Bayigamba
  • Yele Nourah Fatim Emmanuella Coulibaly
  • Guanlian Li
  • Derin Sabir
  • Elizabeth Vandegrift
  • Liat Suvorov

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

Derin Sabir

Derin is motivated and responsible for her work.  She puts in extra time to research, work and improve her experimental technique and understanding of the topic.  Derin presents her research at conferences, representing Montgomery College and the STEM Scholars Honors Program.  She does it all with a positive attitude.

Nominated by Dr. Zhou (Jojo) Dong, STEM Scholars & Honors Program Advisor

Departmental Academic Achievement Awards

Biology Student Achievement Award

Meredith Wilson 

In short Meredith is exemplary as a student, meticulous in her work, motivated and intellectually involved in each of the topics. She is highly organized and skilled at the bench and dedicated to pursue a research career.

Nominated by The Germantown Biology Faculty

Biotechnology Achievement Award

Savannah Allen
Dong Yuan Jiang 

James and Savannah embody the goals of the MC Biotech program - to give students the knowledge, skills, and abilities to start a rewarding career in the local biotechnology industry. Both were hired, coincidentally at the same company, before completing their degree or certificate. Both are excellent students who should be proud of what they've accomplished. 

Students were nominated by Dr. Lori Kelman, Biotechnology

Excellence in Chemistry Award

Kian Arkin Mercado

Kian has demonstrated consistent academic excellence in general and organic chemistry over the past two years as part of the Early College program. In addition, he has shared his knowledge of chemistry with other students as a tutor in the Science Learning Center and has applied his coursework as a chemistry research intern at NIST. He is currently enrolled in an honors section of Organic Chemistry II, for which he is learning principles of biochemistry by researching the enzyme reverse transcriptase and its role in HIV.

Nominated by Dr. James Lipchock, Chemistry

Excellence in Writing Award

Dante Baldeh

Dante Baldeh is an excellent writer with an amazing talent for vibrant word choice.  His talents don't end there. He demonstrates extraordinary leadership skills and is an outstanding dancer and choreographer. His future will be exceptional.

Alison Castro Quintanilla

Alison Yajaira Castro Quintanilla is a first-year student majoring in General Studies at Montgomery College.  As a child growing up with astigmatism in El Salvador, Alison learned to persist with great tenacity despite limited accommodations in her learning environment.  As demonstrated in her writing in ENGL 101/011, Alison possesses a deep sense of empathy for others and insight beyond her years.  She has inspired her classmates and professors through her love for writing and dedication to learning.

Ramey Ashkar

Ramey Ashkar was an A student in English 102 in fall 2022 on MC’s Germantown campus.  More than an outstanding student, Ramey would help other students in the class that were having trouble with their writing or trouble understanding a concept.  He is always very good-natured and always ready to speak up or to give help to others.  His professor congratulates him on this much-deserved award.

Rebecca Mbaho Jipdijo

The quality of Rebecca Mbaho Jipdijo’s work exuded excellence, and she expressed her thoughts clearly, conveying insightful ideas. As she grew in understanding, her essays became stronger. Rebecca excelled throughout the semester.

Logan Raftus

Logan Raftus is an outstanding student in English 102 in the spring of 2023 at MC’s Germantown campus.  His instructor recalls saying to him, “You know you could be teaching this class.”  His writing in excellent – and he is a great catcher on MC’s baseball team!  His professor congratulates him on this well-deserved award. 

Students were nominated by the Germantown English and Reading Faculty

Excellence in International Studies

Normand Bayigamba

Normand Bayigamba is a truly interdisciplinary and global scholar. His work in the International Studies program has deployed media studies, historical studies, political science, literature, and digital humanities. Not only have his methodologies spanned disciplines, his research and interests have ranged from the US to Nigeria to Rwanda to Syria (just to name a few areas).

Yanet Berhanu

Yanet Berhanu is a deep thinker, applying moral and philosophical questions to her studies of international politics. Her work has particularly emphasized the challenges of responding to crimes against humanity and creating conditions for reconciliation. Her inquiries cross the globe, from South Africa to the US to Syria to Iran.

Students were nominated by Ms. Jennifer Haydel, Political Science.

Excellence in Political Science

Marina Martins

Marina Martins exemplifies a well-rounded Political Scientist. Her work in Political Science ranges from analyzing international refugee policies to using data visualization and research to support organizations addressing food insecurity in Montgomery and Allegany counties. She successfully bridges scholarly research with direct policy and community engagement.

Nominated by Ms. Jennifer Haydel, Political Science

Kenneth P. Levenson Memorial Award in History and Political Science

C. Davis Hampe

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

Mary Gallagher Award for Anthropology
  • Sabrina Sangha
  • Heidi Narvaez
  • Naadir Bakari
  • Levi Lampert
  • Gabe Russell

Students were nominated by Dr. Maria Sprehn, Anthropology

Excellence in World Languages French Award

Adovi Kodjovi Addoh Akuetey 

Adovi stood out in Elementary II for his active participation and outstanding attendance. He was highly motivated to improve his French language skills. Dr. Diene was delighted to have Adovi in class.

Nominated by Dr. Sarah Campbell, Department Chair, Humanities

Outstanding Student in Mathematics Award

Luiz Mata Lopez

Luiz has completed five Honors courses in mathematics while at Montgomery College.  He has presented research on several different mathematical topics, both pure and applied, at conferences.  The department will be sad to see him leave, but happy to know he will continuing his mathematical journey somewhere else!

Nominated by Dr. Steve Wheatley, Mathematics

Excellence in Cloud Computing and Networking Technology Award
  • Christopher Morocho
  • Ode Evans
  • Itunuoluwa Ayo-Durojaiye
  • Benny-Hardy Deha
  • Danish Nadar
  • Matthew Stennett
  • Noah Aurdos
  • Saaketh Sai Vemunuri

Students were nominated by Ms. Margaret Tseng, Computer Science

Excellence in Computer Science Award

Yabetse Gebrewold

Yabetse is a Computer Science Early College Student. He Has an outstanding performance, always available to help during class. Also he is a tutor at MAPEL center for core programming subjects.  

Luiz Mata Lopez

Luiz is truly an exceptional student who excels not only in his STEM courses but in all that he does.  Luiz's achievements go far beyond the classroom.  He is a STEM Scholar, a Renaissance Scholar, a STEM Ambassador, and a MAPEL Center tutor.  Luiz has represented the student voice at a Board of Trustees meeting.

Hana Fatima Shaikh

Hana Fatima is a Computer Science Early College Student. She is an outstanding student. She is currently taking honors courses and working hard to achieve her goals.

Students were nominated by Ms. Farnaz Eivazi, Computer Science

Excellence in Cybersecurity Award

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. 

  • Daniel Chaudhary
  • Rebeka Harsanyi
  • Colleen Madden
  • Kevin Moses
  • Mukhammadali Nasymov
  • Jordan Oleson
  • Unnati Patel
  • Natnael Samson
  • Thomas Saldari
  • Mahdi Tohidi
  • Tamila Urumbaeva
  • Kathia Villaizan 
  • Jamaal Williams

Nominated by Ms. Silvia Vargas, Cybersecurity 

Engineering: Athena Award

For outstanding scholarship and leadership
Kate “Kat” Chen
Anthony Wang

Students were nominated by Ms. Monica Mellini, Engineering

Engineering: Leonardo Award

For promoting philosophy and the arts in engineering
Stuart “Stuey” Makonyola

Nominated by Ms. Monica Mellini, Engineering

Engineering: MVP Award

For congenial, reliable, sustained conditions
Andres Rivera

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

Fall 2022
  • Robermath Agbogbe
  • Andrew Almeida
  • Daniel Chin
  • Celeste Copay
  • Richa D'Mello
  • Rivado (Noel) Edah
  • Juliana Garcia Romero
  • Iliya Ghorbanian Bajgiran
  • Ally Guo
  • Simon Krivoy
  • Luis Lujan
  • Praharsh Nanduri
  • Denise Nyangwechi
  • Luana Rojas-Zurita
  • Aura Salazar
  • Hana Shaikh
  • John (Jack) Spillane
  • Tam-Anh Tran
  • Kevin Truong
  • B. Leigh Vining
  • Albert Walker
Spring 2023
  • Robermath Agbogbe
  • Lloyd Bekele
  • Stephanie Cao
  • Ling (Katelyn) Chen
  • Daniel Chin
  • Celeste Copay
  • Juliana Garcia Romero
  • Ilia Ghorbanian Bajgiran
  • Ally Guo
  • Ummey Jannat
  • Phani Kuppa
  • Joseph LiuLuis Lujan
  • Samuel Marquez
  • Kian Mercado
  • Praharsh Nanduri
  • Enoch Oluwaboro
  • Vidhi Prasad
  • Arian Rodriguez
  • Arman Sagmanligil
  • Natnael Samson 
  • Hana Shaikh
  • Santiago Sued
  • Angie Tehrani
  • Tam-Anh Tran
  • Joshua Vazquez-Correa
  • Albert Walker
  • Amenan Yao
  • Yury Alvarez
  • Sanidy Ambagolla
  • Paola Cardona
  • Celeste Copay
  • Michelle Eileen
  • Marie Lyne Fouefack
  • Certitude Gakounet
  • Nandini Gummalla
  • Ryan Klinger
  • Navya Koganti
  • Stephanie Lazo
  • Luiz Mata Lopez
  • Rishi Nixon
  • Esmeralda Quenum
  • Whitney Del Rosario
  • Yumin  Seo
  • Brian Shaffer
  • Tamila Urumaeva

Southern Management Leadership Program

The Southern Management Leadership Program (SMLP) is a three-year experiential learning program. Students complete their associate’s degree at Montgomery College and transfer as a cohort to complete their undergraduate education at the University of Maryland, College Park. 

  • Bernadette Agbeme
  • Dayana Batres
  • Blen Bekele
  • Betsua Cuevas
  • Akhil Gunda
  • Trinity Hill
  • Zaina Kazi
  • Dittaya Keetanon
  • Cullen Kweti
  • Han Le
  • Christopher Lemus
  • Daniela  Mejia 
  • Charly Naves
  • Cideth Oliva
  • Abel Pattammady
  • Dairy Santos
  • Patrick  Sasu
  • Faith  Smith 
  • Kevin Truong
  • Ena Walker