2017 Freshman, Associate Advisor, and Freshman Advisor Awards

Meghan Kenney, Assitant Dean and Leslie Bottari, Staff Associate, UAAP

UAAP is pleased to announce the recipients of the Freshman, Outstanding Associate Advisor, and Freshman Advisor Awards for 2017.

Freshman Awards

Each year, the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming recognizes the accomplishments of the freshmen class in the areas of athletics, research, leadership, performing arts, and entrepreneurship. This year, six members of the Class of 2020 were acknowledged for their contributions to MIT.

Bouke Edskes, Athletics
Bouke was nominated for his contributions to the Men’s Swimming and Diving Team. At the NCAA Championships this spring, he was runner up in two events while also being on four relay teams that were in the top eight in the country. Bouke is always front and center cheering for his teammates, and is the most improved member of the team. In addition to his athletics, Bouke maintains a strong academic performance and is currently doing a UROP.

Joseph Espiritu, Research
Joseph was nominated for his aptitude and the high quality research skills demonstrated as a UROP student in the Koehler Lab at the Koch Center, where he is researching the chemical probing of the Lin28B protein and clarifying its potential for therapy. Joseph has developed new protocols and methods for molecular biology to support screening efforts, and these accomplishments are nearly unheard of for an undergraduate student. In addition to his research at the Koch Center, Joseph is a member of the ESG Learning Community and works as a teaching assistant for the Office of Minority Education.

Devon Goetz, Athletics
Devon was nominated for her contirbutions to both the Women’s Field Hockey and Softball Teams. As a field hockey player this fall, Devon started and played in every game. As a member of the softball team, Devon was named the NEWMAC Athlete of the Week in early April, and currently ranks fourth in the country in on base percentage and fifth in the country for batting average. In addition to her athletics, she maintains a strong academic performance and is a member of the Navy ROTC.

Darnell Granberry, Leadership
Darnell was nominated for the leadership he has demonstrated as a member of the Concourse Learning Community. He encourages discussions and is respectful of the ideas and questions of his classmates. Darnell’s fellow students look to him as a leader in their cohort, and he always steps up when he is needed.

Talia Khan, Performing Arts
Talia was nominated for her accomplishments in the performing arts. Talia is the Emerson Scholar for Voice and the Emerson Concert Soloist for Jazz, recently performing in her own solo recital. Talia is also a member of the prestigious Vocal Jazz Ensemble, where she is the only underclassman member. In addition to her musical endeavors, Talia is a member of the Society of Women Engineers.

Rosanna Zhang, Entrepreneurship
Rosanna was nominated for her passion for entrepreneurship. She currently serves as the Entrepreneurship Chair for Women’s Business Leaders, and has her own startup company called Zipps, which is a social platform for towns and cities. In addition to her startup, which has received funding from MIT Sandbox, Rosanna has a UROP in the Langer Lab and is involved with the Undergraduate Association and her sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon.


Outstanding Associate Advisor Award

Each year, UAAP recognizes one outstanding and extraordinary associate advisor among 200 students who participate in the Associate Advisor Program. The number of comments from faculty and students who expressed appreciation for their associate advisors this year was impressive.

Mina Blume, Senior in Materials Science and Engineering
Associate Advisor for Wayne Johnson, Assistant Registrar in the Registrar’s Office

Mina served as an associate advisor for 3 years. She took her role and responsibilities very seriously and was highly committed to supporting freshmen and her advisor. Wayne Johnson enthusiastically expressed how proud he was of her: “Mina represents the essence of what it is to be a role model, leader, excellent student and a very well-rounded and grounded Associate Advisor at MIT.” One of Mina’s advisees said, “Mina truly cares about her advisees, and not only gave us advice on classes, but she was our friend.” Mina also influenced another advisee to become an associate advisor: “Her work has inspired me to become a better and more caring person. I applied to become an associate advisor because of her.”


Freshman Advisor Awards

Relationships with faculty are critical in not only advising and guiding students, but helping them think through their academic plans, such as pursuing internships and global experiences, engaging in UROP, and contemplating future plans for graduate school or professional work. This year, the UAAP recognized a group of extraordinary advisors in the following distinct categories:

Creative Advising Activity Award
John Ochsendorf, Professor in the Department of Architecture

Students praise Ochsendorf’s passion in his freshman advising seminar. One advisee wrote in the nomination, “Professor Ochsendorf’s seminar was innovative and creative, the highlight of my freshman fall. He has a genuine and clear passion for teaching and sharing art that inspired me to continue maintaining a connection to the arts while at MIT.”

Outstanding Rookie Advisor Award
Susan Silbey, Professor in the Anthropology Program

Silbey has shown that a rookie can be very influential in the life of students. One of her advisees expressed how impactful she has been beyond academic advising: “Susan is an incredible life mentor. She has so many stories, experiences and new ideas that make her easy to talk to. She has definitely influenced my time at MIT in such a positive way that I couldn’t imagine my first year here without her.”

Outstanding Veteran Advisor Award
Sheila Widnall, Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Widnall has advised scores of first year students since assuming the role of freshman advisor in 1993. One nominator wrote, “Professor Widnall is singular in her dedication to her students.” An advisee nominator said, “I could not believe that Professor Widnall, the first female Secretary of the Air Force, was going to be my freshman advisor!” Perhaps most importantly, Widnall continues to be personally vested in the success of her students.

Alan J. Lazarus (1953) Award for Excellence in Freshman Advising
Hale Bradt, Professor Emeritus in the Physics Department

Named in honor of the late Dr. Alan J. Lazarus ’53, the Excellence in Advising Award recognizes a faculty member who emulates the values and contributions of Dr. Lazarus: a love of teaching and advising undergraduates. Bradt exemplifies excellence in advising. One of his students said, “Professor Bradt has told us some amazing stories from his lifetime, and has listened patiently to ours. Coming to MIT as a freshman, he has made me feel at home!”

Excellence in Mentoring Award
Gilbert Strang, Professor in the Department of Mathematics

Strang personifies mentorship with students. He has demonstrated tremendous commitment to his advisees. One nominator wrote, “Professor Strang is great at advising students about classes and general student life issues, but his primary contribution to our lives has been his leadership as a role model. I could not have asked for a better advisor and mentor than him.”

Student Champion Award
Susan Hockfield, President Emerita and Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Prof. Hockfield genuinely cares about her advisees and does everything she can to support them. She is both an advocate for and champion of students. Her former advisee and associate advisor noted, “Looking back at my time at MIT, her presence in my academic life changed my life tremendously. She was an extremely caring and understanding advisor.”

Innovative Seminar Award
Dr. Barry Johnston and Professors Fikile Brushett, Chris Love, Bradley Olsen and Kristala Prather, Department of Chemical Engineering

With their creative collaborative efforts in the freshman seminar, “Exploring ChemE: All My Friends Say Course 10 is Hard!”, they collectively and successfully engaged 30 freshmen in exploring Course 10 as a potential major. According to one nominator, “The seminar’s creative and enjoyable style made it an ideal platform for freshman advising. Professors focused on helping their students consider their education through workshops about career decisions and selection of a major.