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All School Student Awards 2020

Burton and Karol Lefkowitz Prize

Recognizes undergraduate students who have demonstrated leadership excellence in extracurricular activities that advance important community interests inside or outside the University; awarded to three undergraduate students annually; established by David Lefkowitz (C’82) in honor of his parents.

Eleanor Levine

Ellie Levine is a multitalented theatre artist, a creator and deviser of theatre for audiences of a full range of ages and abilities. She works with Purple Crayon Players, having recently directed their Festival of New Works, and founded the Theatre for the Very Young, which arose from a student-organized seminar she sponsored. Her commitment to inclusive theatre is demonstrated by her consistent and varied roles with Seesaw Theatre throughout her four years on campus. She used her investigative and analytic skills as a dramaturg for campus productions and in successfully completing an Undergraduate Research Grant project. This year she devised and directed a Dearborn Observatory performance exploring the little-known “Harvard computer women.” She is a spirited and generous woman with empathy and sensitivity for all the world around her.

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans is a writer and director whose films have traversed film festival circuits, including screenings in Cannes Court Metragé, the Heartland Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Film Festival. She has served as the copresident, finance chair, and script development chair for Studio 22, Northwestern’s student-run production company; coproducer of the College Emmy–winning The Blackout, Northwestern’s late-night comedy show; and founder of Northwestern’s chapter of the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence.

Kamila Postolowicz

Kamila’s unique passion for supporting communication and understanding across languages and cultures drives her academics, leadership, and service. As the vice president of the Polish American Student Alliance, she organizes a Polish Culture Night to engage the broader Northwestern and Evanston communities with Polish traditional culture. She volunteers at Chicago’s Reilly Elementary School, assisting with providing speech-language services to bilingual children as she prepares to serve as a multilingual speech pathologist. At Evanston’s Park School, she serves as a Special Olympics coach and provides after-school music therapy. Through Northwestern’s chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, she provides support to adults who have dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, she serves on campus as a volunteer with Project Pumpkin and Dance Marathon.

Madeleine Robinson Memorial Award

Presented to a student who is active in community service; established in 1975 by the husband of Madeleine Robinson, a 1959 graduate who died at an early age and was beloved for her community activities in the Aurora, Illinois, area

Valerie Gruest

Valerie is a senior double majoring in communication studies and art theory and practice. Her research interests stem from her experience as an Olympic swimmer. Valerie’s research focuses on understanding the different ways teams can collectively lead themselves; she is coauthoring two publications on this topic. Valerie has an extensive record of community service, volunteering with numerous organizations in Guatemala centered on children’s health and well-being. She was honored by the mayor of Guatemala City for her commitment and contribution to the community. Valerie has also supported the Northwestern and Evanston communities through her work with the Special Olympics, Breaststroke for Breast Cancer, and Jugando con la Ciencia, among others. Faculty describe Valerie as reliable, resourceful, intelligent, and an outstanding student with an unwavering work ethic.

Lucia Wiant Award

Awarded to a student who has shown outstanding academic or artistic growth in the communication arts and sciences

Meghan Considine

Meghan is a double major in performance studies and art history, the first to achieve both a double major in these fields and a joint senior thesis. Widely admired for her maturity, intelligence, and intellectual enthusiasm, she is much appreciated for her ethical and thoughtful approach to contemporary art curation and performance. For her senior thesis, notable for its innovation and rigorous scholarship, Meghan is producing a theoretically inflected historiography of a critical and often overlooked work in Chicago’s tradition of public art: Kerry James Marshall’s 1995 mural Knowledge and Wonder. Meghan’s research tells mural’s story from its development as a public art project at a time when Marshall’s career was undervalued. Through requisitioned public records and interviews, she tracks the Rahm Emmanuel administration’s failed attempts to auction off the mural as a source of revenue after Marshall had become a major art star. While Meghan’s research has the historical imperative of telling the critical story of this mural and its instrumentalization by and within its neoliberal city, she is also modeling a new synthesis between performance studies and art history to account for the mural’s performativity as an event. She not only tells the story of how the mural has come to be but also attends to its performative powers: what it does and makes possible in the world, how it functions as a performing object with its own animate social, political, and aesthetic forces. Meghan is a delight to work with—a student whose work is impeccable, whose mind is going places, and who guides her teachers with her intelligence and ambition.

Zeta Phi Eta Award

Awarded to a continuing graduate student, or to an outstanding junior or senior who will remain at Northwestern to pursue a master’s degree, who has demonstrated excellence in communication arts or sciences as well as strong scholarship, exemplary character, talent, and leadership ability exemplifying the organization’s motto, “Achieve! With Wisdom, Integrity, and Love”; presented by Zeta Phi Eta, a national professional fraternity in communication arts and sciences and the oldest national group of its kind, founded at Northwestern University in 1893

Rahma Almajid

An aspiring future doctor, Rahma is both deeply inquisitive about scientific theories and deeply passionate about helping children thrive, particularly those growing up in marginalized communities. In addition to pursuing rigorous premedical coursework, Rahma has exhibited curiosity and initiative in her research activities, rapidly consuming recommended articles, asking insightful follow-up questions, and charting her own line of research on the role of siblings in children’s language development. Rahma is intelligent, diligent, determined, respectful, honest, and compassionate, exemplifying the qualities of a future leader who will make a significant and positive impact on the individuals and communities she will serve.

Class Awards

Robert M. Cumnock Scholarship

Awarded to an outstanding first-year student; honors Robert M. Cumnock—a performer and teacher who believed oratory was an art, not a science—who in 1878 founded Northwestern’s School of Oratory, now the School of Communication, and was responsible for the construction of Annie May Swift Hall

Sunnie Eraso

Sunnie is an impressive leader among her peers who genuinely supports and lifts others. Delighted to work with everyone, Sunnie serves as a source of warmth and positive energy in all collaborations. Passionate about education, creativity, and sustainability, she attends meetings of the Chicago Green Theatre Alliance and encourages Northwestern’s student theatre community to sustain and recycle. With her strong interest in theatre for young audiences and in becoming a teaching artist, she was chosen this year to participate in WAVE Productions’ Director Festival. An excellent writer, she is grounded, kind, and articulate, with a heart as strong as her clear, inquisitive mind.

Ralph B. Dennis Scholarship

Presented to an exceptional sophomore; honors Ralph Dennis, dean of the school from 1913 until his retirement in 1942, who oversaw a period of exponential growth and whose vitality and personal style in interacting with students made the school unique

Winnie Liang

Winnie began her undergraduate research career as a recipient of last year’s Early Research Experience Award. She was the first person trained on a complex coding system of parent-child interactions for a study of interaction and brain activity in children with autism. Winnie quickly mastered this rigorous technical skill while maintaining the highest research standards. Now in only her second year, she has become a lab leader, training other students. She balances her devotion to research with a rigorous premed course load and volunteer work at Evanston’s Lincoln Elementary School.

James H. McBurney Scholarship

Awarded to an outstanding junior; honors James McBurney, dean of the school from 1942 to 1972, under whose leadership it achieved widespread recognition, while the school structure reinforced cohesion among its disciplines

Melanie De Vincentiis

Melanie is a junior working toward a BS in communication studies, with a focus on strategic and organizational communication. She is also pursuing Institute for Sustainability and Energy and integrated marketing communications certificates. Melanie serves in numerous leadership roles across the University, including president of the United World Colleges Club, technical director for The Blackout, and a mentor with Strive for College. Faculty describe Melanie as smart and curious, with an incredible depth of understanding and application of her coursework. She has an astute ability to synthesize her knowledge from many different courses, majors, and certificates into cutting-edge ideas and research.

Roy V. Wood Scholarship

Awarded to an outstanding senior; honors Roy Wood, dean of the school from 1972 to 1987, whose door was always open to students and whose tenure saw marked growth in the size of the school, major gains in physical facilities, and advancement in the quality of teaching, research, and creative activity

Annabel “Mega” Dafiaghor

Mega Dafiaghor received a Bindley Grant and directed this past year’s radio/television/film sitcom. Currently she runs a student seminar to help the department find ways to grow and better serve its students. Mega’s extremely high level of organization, ingenuity, and generosity has made her an asset to the radio/television/film community as she strives to develop an inquisitive and compelling voice as a filmmaker.