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Cornell University


Saturday, May 13, 2017
BESTies earn well deserved recognition

Congratulations to BESTies Steve Halaby, Ezen Choo, Aaron Joiner, Ornella Nelson, and Frank He who were inducted into the Cornell chapter of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society. The scholars were inducted at the annual Yale Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education held April 7-9 at Yale University. 

Steve Halaby and Ezen Choo were also recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Awards. Award nominations are reviewed and award recipients are determined by a student-led awards committee. the 2017 Distinguished Awards that were presented at the Graduate Diversity & Inclusion Spring Recognition Banquet on May 12 2017. See the complete list of awardees here

Exemplary Service Award - Advanced Career

Awarded to students who have a demonstrated track record of exemplary service to the Cornell graduate and professional student community, especially in the areas of diversity, inclusion, outreach, and student engagement. Advanced career students include PhD candidates (post-A Exam), master’s, and professional degree students beyond their first year of study at the time of nomination.

Award Recipient: Steve Halaby, Ph.D. Candidate, Biochemistry, Molecular & Cell Biology

“The Exemplary Service Award - Advanced Career is presented to Steve Halaby for his demonstrated track record of outstanding service and leadership to the Cornell Graduate School community through his efforts to improve diversity, inclusion, outreach, and student engagement.”

Award Justification

Steve Halaby is a fourth year PhD candidate in the field of molecular biology and genetics. Throughout his time at Cornell Steve has shown a deep commitment to promoting diversity, inclusion, outreach and student engagement through service and leadership in many capacities. Steve is passionate about increasing the representation of minority students in the STEM fields through education of future generations and recruitment of bright young minds into Cornell’s graduate programs. To that end, he has served as a mentor and organizing committee member for the GRASSHOPR program, providing STEM outreach and education in local schools, and has participated in Graduate School recruitment efforts through SACNAS, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the Graduate School Ambassadors program. Beyond the Cornell community, Steve has participated in the AAAS program Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering, where he visited Washington, DC, to learn how he can become an advocate for science policy and education at the national level. Steve is a Sloan Fellow, has participated in the Colman Leadership Program, and was recently inducted into the Bouchet Honor Society. We recognize and thank Steve for his incredible service and leadership to our community and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavor.

Community Outreach Award

Awarded to a student who has strengthened a community through efforts to build partnerships, increase student involvement, and provide opportunities for mutual learning and understanding between Cornell and the targeted community.

Award Recipient: Ezen Choo, Ph.D. Candidate, Pharmacology

"Community Outreach Award is presented to Ezen Choo for her commitment to mentoring and engaging youth in science. Ezen is breaking societal barriers and stereotypes about who a scientist is, all while opening the door for other children to get interested in science."

Award Justification

Ezen Choo is selected for this award for varied, sustained efforts in community outreach. She is a longstanding member and current president of GRASSHOPR, an organization that pairs students with classrooms to teach mini-courses. The organization that currently has a footprint of 1600 students, mostly drawing from local Tompkins County. Ezen also has varied contributions around the Cornell Community. She is a co-founder of a club Fall Into Science, and actively involved in various other graduate societies. The sense that she has a cut above the rest is evidenced by her six nominations.