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  • Maura McAndrew

Congratulations to Our 2023 Award Winners!

Now that the 2022-23 academic year has drawn to a close, we'd like to recognize our many talented students who have won scholarships and awards — some within the college and some campus-wide. We're incredibly proud of our International and Area Studies majors and minors, our international students, and OU students who received scholarships for study abroad and language study. Below are this year's winners, and we hope you'll take a moment to read through and celebrate their achievements along with us. We're wishing all of our students a wonderful summer break, and for those that have graduated, good luck and best wishes for the future!


Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr. Award: Isaak Todd The Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr. Award recognizes an International & Area Studies student demonstrating high academic achievement, a commitment to public service and a desire to pursue a career in global affairs.

Runner-Up: Kristina Aleksanyan

2nd Runner-Up: Mona Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim Salem

CIS Outstanding Senior 2022: Angelora Rose Castellano

Our Outstanding Senior (announced in fall 2022) was May graduate Angelora Castellano (left). The International and Area Studies Outstanding Senior Award is given for outstanding achievement in scholarship, honors, awards, leadership and service to the university and community.

CIS Student Travel Support Grant: Kristina Aleksanyan, Katherine Holden, Ayazhan Muratbek, Su Myat Noe The College of International Studies provides a travel grant to support IAS graduate and undergraduate student travel for research and educational activities.

Transfer Student Scholarship for CIS Students: Jakub Kostka The Transfer Student Scholarship for CIS Students is awarded annually to transfer students with declared majors or minors in the College of International Studies.

IAS Undergraduate DEI Scholarship: Marry Muang

he Undergraduate DEI Scholarship is awarded to students whose educational and life experiences uniquely relate to diversity, equity and inclusion. This grant is intended to foster a more diverse, inclusive and equitable student body, broadly defined.

Runner-Up: Nico Cordova Velasco

IAS First Generation Student Scholarship: Nittiphone Linthong

The First Generation CIS Student Scholarship awards two scholarships annually to IAS majors or minors who are first in their family to attend college.

Runner-Up: Dawit Leake

Mehdi Firoozabadi Iranian Studies Scholarship: TBA Mehdi Firoozabadi, who graduated from the OU in 1969 with a degree in Petroleum Engineering, was an international student from Iran who served as President of the International Advisory Committee. His love for OU was inspired by the warmth and support that he received from the University, its students and the surrounding community during his four years in Norman. In 1970, after graduation, Mehdi returned home to Iran to honor his scholarship from the National Iranian Oil Company and go to work for them in the field. Although it was tough, dirty work, Mehdi kept a positive attitude and was promoted to superintendent of Lavant, an offshore petrolatum company in the Persian Gulf. He was happily married for six months when tragedy struck, his car crashed into a river canyon and he lost his life on June 7, 1975. Mehdi’s brother Amir, a proud U.S. citizen who considered his brother a “model citizen,” wishes to honor Mehdi’s legacy and show his appreciation for the University of Oklahoma by helping future generations of Iranian Americans and other students who seek to promote enduring friendship between the Iranian and American people.

St. Elijah's and Anthony Shadid Arabic Language Study Scholarship: Mohamad Alshamsi This scholarship was created out of the initiative and generosity of OU alum Anthony Shadid and the St. Elijah’s Church. The scholarship is unique in that it emphasizes the value of language and cultural experiences in the Middle East. Awards are given on a competitive basis to undergraduate and graduate students majoring in International and Area Studies and participating in OU study abroad programs. Awards are based on factors such as grades, promise in the field, language acquisition, faculty recommendations and the student’s financial need


Paul and Rose Sharp Scholarship: Mehrnoush Nourbakhsh This scholarship was established by former OU president and his wife, Dr. Paul Sharp and Mrs. Rose Sharp, to recognize one outstanding international student based on academic excellence, outstanding contributions and service to the University of Oklahoma community.

Sue Williams Service Award: Azra Fifić, Mercy Ndagire The Sue Williams Service Award is given to an international student who demonstrates service to the community and dedication to intercultural understanding.

Cleo Cross Scholarship: TBA The Cleo Cross International Student Scholarship was established in 1968 by the University Women’s Club in honor of Mrs. Cleo Cross, wife of OU’s 17th President, George Lynn Cross. Mrs. Cross was very active in OU’s international community and hosted the Cleo Cross Tea in the Boyd House for many years prior to her death in 1997.


Iranian Studies Best Paper Prize: Brennan Clifton, Claire Silk

The Iranian Studies Best Paper Prize is awarded each year to an undergrad or graduate student who submits the best paper related to Iranian Studies. This year there were two co-winners. Brennan won for his paper,"Show Don’t Tell: The Metaphor of Love in Iranian Cinema" and Claire won for her paper, "Student Power! The Iranian Student Movement in the United States During the 1960s and 1970s and the Fall of the Shah."

Latin America and Caribbean Paper Award: 1st Prize: Bryton L. Chain, 2nd Prize: Camille Matlock

The Latin America and Caribbean Paper Award is offered annually by the OU Center for the Americas. Undergraduate students of any major may submit a paper written for an undergraduate course in 2021 directly related to Latin America and the Caribbean. Bryton was awarded first prize for his paper, "A Creole Monarchy: King Henri I of Haiti and the Development of a Caribbean Political Ideology." Camille was awarded second prize for his paper, "Politicizing the Repertoire and Centering Women in the Archive: Film and Feminism in Bogotá, Colombia."

Thomas W. Adams Best Paper Award: Isaak Todd

The Thomas W. Adams Best Paper Award, sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and the European Union Center, is given each year to the best paper addressing an aspect of conflict resolution affecting any country that borders the Mediterranean Sea.


Fellowship for Global Engagement: Willow Arana, Ashton Attig, Ella Brinkman, Samantha Cooper, Morgan Jolley, Christian Newkirk, Haley Riggins, Joey Rotondo The OU Fellowship for Global Engagement is a program established by the University of Oklahoma to ensure its students have the tools to succeed in an increasingly global world. Global Engagement Fellows must commit to the program for the entirety of their undergraduate career. Fellows will receive a scholarship account which can be used during their undergraduate years for at least two international experiences, with their first experience ideally taking place during the summer after their freshman year.

Peace Corps Prep: Angelora Rose Castellano, Christian Newkirk The Peace Corps Prep Program (PC Prep) at the University of Oklahoma prepares students for service as a Peace Corps volunteer. Qualified undergraduate students can apply to take part in the program, which equips students in four areas: intercultural competence, sector-specific skills, language development, and professionalism and leadership. After completing the program, students receive a certificate from Peace Corps.


Ambassador Edward J. Perkins Scholarship: Priscila Bastida Ramirez, Savannah Slayton This scholarship was created to assist University of Oklahoma students pursuing studies in Africa and other strategic areas. The scholarship may also assist OU students from overseas.

Board of Visitors Scholarship: Ramey Brinkman, Kierra Franklin, Jacie Lackey, Kaylee Neel, Taylor Niehoff, Emma Stone, Olivia Townsend The Board of Visitors Scholarship supports student travel to underrepresented overseas destinations.

Dean Suzette Grillot Scholarship: Omar Cruz This scholarship was created out of the generosity of two OU alums and friends of the College of International Studies to provide study abroad scholarships for students at the University of Oklahoma who participate in the university’s signature study abroad program in Arezzo, Italy.

Farzaneh Family Persian Language Scholarship: Kian Abdi, Roddean Bahrami, Nadia Iranpour,

Isaak Todd, Donna Vaghefikia The Farzaneh family have been long-time supporters of the University of Oklahoma and the College of International Studies. The Farzaneh Family’s gift to support Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies at OU includes scholarships to OU students studying the Persian language.

Fulbright U.S. Student Program: Taylor Broadbent (Anne Wexler Scholarship in Public Policy, Australia), James Johnson (English Teaching Assistant, Germany), Han Pham (Research, South Korea), Kristin A. Urías (English Teaching Assistant, Argentina)

Alternate: Nikola Dragicevic (English Teaching Assistant, Argentina) The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for outstanding college graduates to teach, research or study abroad in a country of their choice. During their grant year, Fulbrighters meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, promoting mutual understanding and positive relationships between the United States and the rest of the world.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship: Ashton Attig, Lily Heritage, Anthony Kendrick

The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program enables exceptional students who receive Federal Pell Grants to study or intern abroad, providing them with skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity.

Mackey Family Endowed Scholarship: Anoli Scott

This scholarship was established in honor of Mrs. Sandra Mackey, who was an esteemed veteran journalist and famed international author on the Middle East. Given her interest and expertise on this global region, the Mackey Family Scholarship provides financial assistance to students who wish to focus their studies on Arabic or the Middle East.

Molly and David Boren Study Abroad Scholarship: Jennifer Aguilar, Darian Anderson, Nathaniel Blasdel, Viktor Mendez, Michael Stoyak, David Taitano Molly and President David Boren believe deeply that the next generation of American leadership must function internationally as never before; and they believe in the interdisciplinary mission of the College of International Studies. Their generosity provides scholarship funds for students who endeavor to expand their international experiences by participating in the study abroad programs at the University of Oklahoma.

Philip Farish Scholarship: McKailey Holt, Hishaam Ramoly, Modeste Gihozo Rukundo This scholarship was created to assist OU students pursuing a study abroad program, with priority given to applicants who study abroad for a semester or academic year and are in STEM fields.

Seymour Feiler Scholarship: Madeline Bollinger This scholarship was created out of the generosity of Eliot Feiler to honor his uncle, Seymour Feiler, who was a devoted professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages for many years. He was also very involved in Education Abroad, and he helped many international students while on campus. This scholarship will assist undergraduate students at the University of Oklahoma who wish to study in Clermont-Ferrand, France.

Shirley Routt Bomford Endowed Scholarship: LaMauri Franklin, Catherine Juliano, Elise Moore Shirley Routt Bomford, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and a retired civic leader, is the proud mother and grandmother of a daughter and granddaughter who are both OU graduates. Shirley and her husband, Tom, also a graduate of OU, desire to assist students planning to expand their education by studying abroad.

Millie Schäfer Sitzman Award: Mackenzie Cozort, Catherine Hartman, Nittiphone Linthong

This scholarship is to honor the memory of Millie Schäfer Sitzman, whose interest from early years focused on missionaries in Africa. The scholarship is for University of Oklahoma students in a program of international study.

South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center International Studies Scholarship: Emory Otto, Liam Thompson The South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center International Studies Scholarship was created to assist OU students pursuing a summer study abroad program. Scholarships are awarded to qualified undergraduate students. Recipients of the award will be expected to complete a small project as selected by the scholarship committee following the completion of the study abroad program.

Stuart Family Foundation Study Abroad Scholarship & Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation Scholarship: Oluwatimilehin Akinloye, Denice Devkumar, Kierra Franklin, Mia Hershelman, Mandisa Masonya, Viktor Mendez, Rebecca Ogilvie, Modeste Gihozo Rukundo, Allison Whitley

The Stuart Family Foundation scholarship was created out of the initiative and generosity of the Stuart Family Foundation to provide study abroad scholarships for students at the University of Oklahoma who participate in the university’s signature study abroad program in Arezzo, Italy. Award recipients of the Stuart Family Foundation Study Abroad Scholarships are known as the Stuart Scholars.

The Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation scholarship was created out of the initiative and generosity of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation to provide study abroad scholarships for students at the University of Oklahoma who participate in the university’s signature study abroad program in Arezzo, Italy. Award recipients of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation Scholarships are known as the LTFF Scholars.


William W. Talley, II Faculty Award:

Michelle Morais de Sa e Silva, Assistant Professor Of International Studies

Chris Sartorius, Adjunct Professor of International & Area Studies The William W. Talley, II Faculty Award is given every spring in odd numbered years. The award honors faculty members for excellence in teaching and academic service to students in the Department of International and Area Studies.

CIS Community Award: Nima Zecavati, Immigration Attorney and Director of Human Resources, OU HR Office of Immigration Service

Nima Zecavati has been selected to receive the 2023 CIS Community Award for his assistance as interim director of ISS as well as his help with the Omar Khayyam Scholars-at-Risk program.

Cohen Award:

Emily Johnson, Professor of Russian, department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics

Melissa Stockdale, Brian and Sandra O’Brien Presidential Professor, Department of History

Melissa Stockdale and Emily Johnson have been selected to receive the 2023 Cohen Award for their efforts with the establishment of the Romanoff Center for Russian Studies and their long commitment to Russian studies prior to the creation of the center.

IAS Outstanding Faculty Award:

Natalie Letsa, Wick Cary Assistant Professor of Political Economy

Natalie Letsa received the 2022-2023 Outstanding Faculty Award for her research, teaching and service activity in the Department of International and Area Studies.


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