Skip to main content

Swarthmore Students and Alumni Earn Wide Array of Awards

Green lawn underneath blue sky with some clouds. White Adirondack chair in foreground.

Swarthmore students and alumni earned a wide array of awards in recent months, in recognition of ​​their efforts in Arabic studies, film and media, international security, environmental protection, the STEM fields, and more.

The honors, bestowed as close to campus as the Bryn Mawr Film Institute and sending Swatties as far away as Amman, Jordan, reflect the range of interests among the studies and alumni as well as the interdisciplinary spirit of the College community.

The awardees:

Deven AyambemDeven Ayambem ’24 received a Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship-for-Service Program scholarship. The program, part of the National Defense Education Program, provides full tuition for students pursuing a degree in STEM disciplines. Scholars also receive annual stipends, internships, and guaranteed employment with the Department of Defense after graduation.
​​"I would first like to thank Connor Barrett ’24 and Destiny Samuel ’22 for introducing me to the opportunity and assisting in shaping a winning application,” says Ayambem, a mathematics and engineering major from Glenmoore, Pa. “This scholarship has provided some long-term security in my and my family’s future, and is something I will be forever grateful for. I hope to use this privilege to continue to support the communities I care most about (arts, STEM, athletics) by exploring and promoting opportunities that I did not have the resources to prior.

Major EasonJohn “Major” Eason ’23 received honorable mention from the Udall Foundation which awards scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or the environment.

“I have spent the past two summers researching environmental injustice in Houston and working to help close the Covanta incinerator as a part of Campus Coalition Concerning Chester (C4),” says Eason, a sociology & anthropology and engineering major and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow from Madison, Wisc. “The Udall Scholarship recognizing me as an honorable mention candidate is an incredible distinction, because it recognizes my passion around environmental justice and further encourages me to continue in my role in the fight.”  

Gil GuerraGil Guerra ’19 earned a Mitchell Scholarship, which provides up to 12 scholars one year of postgraduate study in any discipline offered by institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Guerra will travel to Northern Ireland to study global security and borders.

"I first learned about Northern Ireland after meeting Professor of Peace & Conflict Studies and Sociology Lee Smithey during the Discover Swarthmore fly-in program the fall of my high school senior year,” says Guerra, most recently an academic programs senior associate for the American Enterprise Institute. “I became fascinated by the region, and was fortunate enough to spend a semester in Derry through Swarthmore's partnership with the HECUA study abroad program. I'm thrilled to be returning to the region, especially as it continues to grapple with the practical and symbolic meaning of borders following Brexit.”

Heewon ParkHeewon Park ’22 was chosen as a Gaither Junior Fellow, a coveted one-year fellowship from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Park enters the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program within the fellowship.
“I hope to learn from the expertise of the Carnegie scholars in my program, and expand my international relations knowledge across more regions,” says Park, who majored in political science at Swarthmore. “But I'm most excited about the policy aspect of the fellowship, and being able to gain more insight into how academia and foreign policymaking intersect. 

“Although I'm not 100% clear on what my future career path will be, I’m interested in applying for the U.S. Foreign Service at some point in the next few years,” she adds. “I hope working with Carnegie will help me gain the background knowledge and policy understanding needed for diplomacy work, and I also hope it helps introduce me to some new career paths that I might one day want to explore.”

Porter and Ticknor

Caleb Porter ’24 (left) and Zamir Ticknor ’25 received the highly competitive Critical Language Scholarship.

Caleb Porter ’24 and Zamir Ticknor ’25 received the highly competitive Critical Language Scholarship, a program of the U.S. Department of State, to pursue intensive summer Arabic study. Porter and Ticknor are headed to Jordan and Morocco, respectively. 

“I’ll be traveling to Meknes, Morocco, for about eight weeks to study both Modern Standard Arabic and Moroccan Darija,” says Porter, a chemical physics special major with an Arabic studies minor from Syracuse, N.Y. “Receiving this scholarship means so much to me, because studying Arabic has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at Swarthmore thus far. I’m looking forward to practicing my Arabic in an immersive environment and to learning about the everyday culture of Morocco!”

Adds Ticknor, a Phillip Evans Scholar from Vienna, Va.: “I am so grateful and excited to be spending the summer in Amman, Jordan studying Arabic. Receiving the CLS scholarship gives me the opportunity to complement my Swarthmore Arabic studies with exposure to Jordanian culture. As a student intending to pursue a career in international development and peace and conflict studies, I seek to deepen my understanding of the Arabic language and Arabic speaking world while cultivating my world view.”

Chili Shi '22 (left) and Rubing Zhang '22

Chili Shi '22 (left) and Rubing Zhang '22 were both honored at the 11th Annual Tri-Co Film Festival

Chili Shi ’22 earned the experimental prize and Rubing Zhang ’22 the narrative prize at the 11th Annual Tri-Co Film Festival. The event, held at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute in May, marked the return to a live event after two years of virtual programs. 
“I always find it very rewarding to see what my peers are working on creatively, and I felt honored to screen my film with Tri-Co for a second year,” says Shi, who was honored for her film (P)URGE. “I’m grateful — especially to Professor of Film & Media Studies Rodney Evans — that I was given the space and guidance to work experimentally.”

Adds Zhang, who was honored for Wuss, a shortened version of her honors thesis: “I’ve been engaging in Tri-Co Film fest since my freshman year, whether as a member of the audience or as a filmmaker, so it’s quite an honor to be recognized in my last year here. It’s truly an honor to see the images of my film playing on a big screen, and to share the viewing experience with an audience.”

Also honored earlier this year: Truman Scholar Owen Mortner ’23, who also received the SPJ Regional Mark of Excellence Award for his in-depth reporting on a proposed condominium development in Swarthmore; Watson Fellows Mikayla Purnell ’22 and Edward Tranter ’22; Churchill Scholar Sarah Weinshel ’22; and eight U.S. Fulbright Student Program Grantees.

Submissions Welcome

The Communications Office invites all members of the Swarthmore community to share videos, photos, and story ideas for the College's website. Have you seen an alum in the news? Please let us know by writing