English professor and Mellon ACM Faculty Fellow Michael Prior (second from left) was presented with a Canada-Japan Literary Award

Maccolades is a monthly round-up of the most recent accolades and accomplishments earned by members of the Macalester community. Below are highlights from May 2024. 

Pride and progress

Julian Applebaum ’23, currently in England for graduate school, is a finalist for the UK’s Queer Student Role Model Of The Year for his community work at the University of Oxford. Applebaum advocated for policy changes for trans inclusion, including improvements to the university’s registration system to better accommodate trans student name changes and establishing a fund for gender-affirming support. The Queer Student Awards celebrate talented young LGBTQ+ people who are proudly leading in their lives and the communities around them. 

“To be recognized as a role model is especially meaningful to me because to be a role model is more than just doing good work, it also means uplifting others by example and helping them see the strength and beauty within themselves,” Applebaum said. “If I can help others realize their own potential, that is one of the best successes I can think of.”

Julian Applebaum '23

Award-winning documentary

Razik Saifullah ’24 won Best Documentary Film for You Don’t Feel Safe (2023) at the Twin Cities Intercollegiate Film Festival. You Don’t Feel Safe explores how the formation of a White Student Union in 1991 wreaked havoc across two college campuses in Minnesota. His red carpet interview is available here

Best value nod for Macalester

Macalester was listed among Study Abroad Aide’s Best Value Liberal Arts Colleges in the United States for International Students. This ranking highlight’s Macalester’s commitment to providing a high-quality education at an accessible cost. 

Sharing the computing wealth

Dr. Getiria Onsongo, associate professor in mathematics, statistics and computer science, received a subaward from the National Science Foundation via the University of Northern Iowa. This grant will bring together researchers from small colleges and universities in the Midwest to determine the feasibility and requirements of a shared high performance computing cluster. Such a cluster will level the playing field with major R1 institutions by allowing small and primarily undergraduate colleges and universities to share resources that they would otherwise be unable to fund by themselves. The proposal title is “CIRA: High-performance computing solutions for small Midwest institutions.”

88 and still making waves

Macalester alum Bill Kansas ’58 received what he called “the honor of a lifetime” when he was inducted into the Minnesota Senior Sports Hall of Fame on May 17 for his achievements in swimming. Kansas has broken 30 Minnesota state records and currently holds 20 of them. He has achieved 59 individual national top ten times and four world top ten times, along with 49 relay national top ten times and 18 world top ten times. He holds All-American status in both individual and relay events and has been named “Best in Nation” ten times. At age 88, Kansas is still competing. 

Bill Kansas '58

Student-led ideas to solve real world problems

Two Macalester students were selected as 2024-25 Phillips Scholars to create and test innovative ideas that address community problems. Scholars receive leadership development opportunities and more than $9,000 in scholarship support. Ten students from 15 Minnesota private colleges are selected each year. Macalester’s recipients discussed their goals:

Ridwan Osman ’26: “I aim to continue growing the ‘Somali Youth Coding Bootcamp,’ expanding the curriculum and reaching more students. I want to empower these young people with coding skills and show them the transformative possibilities of a STEM education.”

Shirly Keyli (Yamalí) Rodas Figueroa ’27: “The primary objective of this program is to create a platform for Twin Cities youth, particularly those aged 16-24, to engage in reproductive justice advocacy. The initiative focuses on mobilizing and organizing communities for issues such as abortion access, comprehensive sex education, and other reproductive health concerns.” 

Unlocking the future

The Phi Beta Kappa Society announced that Amanda Nogueira Moreira de Souza ’25 will represent Macalester as a Key into Public Service Scholar for 2024. She was one of 20 students selected from more than 700 applicants and will receive a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship and participate in a conference in Washington, D.C. in June. This conference provides scholars with training, mentoring, and reflection on pathways into local, state, and federal government public service.

Waste not, win a lot

Macalester won first place in the Small Campus Waste Diversion Category of the Campus Race for Zero Waste. 

“This is exciting because it means Macalester has diverted a larger percentage of waste from incinerators or landfills compared to other institutions in the competition,” said Sustainability Director Megan Butler. “This is a great benchmark of our achievements as Macalester works towards our zero waste goals of diverting 90% of the waste produced on campus from a landfill or incinerator.”

In another stride toward sustainability, Macalester scored 80.87 on its latest Sustainability Report with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. This self-reporting framework allows colleges and universities to measure and track their sustainability performance. The report, submitted every three years, saw Macalester improve by nearly five points since the last submission. 

Campus Waste to Zero Waste 2024 Winner in the Small Campus Division for Diversion badge

Building peace in the Balkans

The School for International Training named Macalester graduate Ana Gvozdic ’21 as the newest Alice Rowan Swanson Fellow. Gvozdic will implement her project in Mostar, a city in Bosnia and Herzegovina where she was born and lived for 15 years. The project aims to enhance the UčiMo Foundation’s Mostar Summer Youth Program by emphasizing human rights education for both the participants and volunteers.

“The Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship is such a meaningful opportunity for me to reconnect with a unique youth education program in my hometown of Mostar — a program that stands apart by its inclusive nature in a post-war ethnically-divided context,” Gvozdic said. “By teaching a course on human rights advocacy and supporting an initiative that brings young people together in the aftermath of human rights violations, I hope to support and strengthen local capacities for sustainable peacebuilding and reconciliation.”  

Raising the bar

Macalester graduate Molly Bowen ’07 , a partner at Cohen Milstein, was recognized as one of the National Law Journal’s 2024 Elite Women of the Plaintiffs Bar. The awards recognize outstanding plaintiffs work in a high-stakes bench or jury trial or in a major settlement. 

A new take on counterterrorism

Dipakshi Sarma ’24 was awarded honorable mention for the 2024 Bert & Phyllis Lamb Prize in Political Science. Sarma, an international studies and political science double major, was recognized by the World Social Science Association for her paper, “The Problems of Ineffective De-radicalization: Innovating Southeast Asian Counterterrorism Mechanisms.”

During the conference’s award ceremony Dr. Berton Lamb, principal of the Lamb Prize, said, “We are excited to recognize Ms. Sarma’s work because undergraduate papers like hers are cornerstones for building the future of political science.”

This award honors undergraduate students for excellence in writing and innovation in the political science field. The selection committee applauded Sarma for tackling the counterterrorism issue and identifying innovative solutions through a comparative analysis.

Poetic triumph

Michael Prior, English professor and Mellon ACM Faculty Fellow, was presented with the Canada-Japan Literary Award, a prize of $10,000 Canadian, for his book of poems, Burning Province. The prize recognizes literary excellence by Canadian writers, including those who “write a work on Japan, on Japanese themes or on themes that promote mutual understanding between Japan and Canada.” Inspired by the wildfires that scorched British Columbia in 2015 and 2017 and his grandparents’ experiences of Japanese Canadian internment during the Second World War, Prior’s collection explores intergenerational memory, cultural trauma, and mixed-race identity. 

The award was presented by His Excellency, Ambassador to Japan, Yamanouchi Kanji; Canadian Senator Stanley Kutcher; and Michelle Chawla, head of the Canada Council for the Arts. The ceremony took place at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

An up and coming sociologist

Macalester graduate Taylor Laemmli ’11 published an article, “Class Experience Mobility through Consumption, Work, and Relationships” in Sociological Theory. The paper has received several awards from the American Sociological Association. 

“The paper is bold and unconventional; it aims to bring new ideas about the lived experience of class into sociology,” Laemmli said. “This makes it especially gratifying to have published it in a journal that is central to the discipline.”

Her article explores six ways people can achieve short-term social class mobility and examines how these short-term actions might impact long-term class mobility.

“I’ve been thinking about these ideas in some form or another since I was a sociology major at Macalester,” Laemmli said. She is currently pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Taylor Laemmli '11

Exploring the path of Chinese migrants

As part of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree in Public Health in Disasters, Aaron Zou ’22 completed a thesis project and internship in Colombia that focused on Chinese migrants. 

“Although it is well known that many Latino migrants cross the Darien Gap on their journey to the U.S., many do not know that an ever increasing number of Chinese migrants are doing the same,” Zou said. 

Through field research in Colombia, Zou aimed to understand the information sources and needs of the migrants, and to research how these migrants form trust with people on their journey. The international nonprofit Internews published his report

Fellow students in Zou’s program study in Spain, Cyprus, and Sweden.

“During the past two years, I had fascinating conversations where my classmates taught me much, and a professor showed me a career path I never knew existed,” Zou said. 

Aaron Zou

How to be considered for future Maccolades

If you or someone you know recently earned an award, fellowship, or honor and would like it to be considered for inclusion in next month’s Maccolades, please let Communications & Marketing know by filling out this Maccolades form. For recent book publications, please use this book publication form

May 31 2024

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