Each year, Denison chooses a select few to receive recognition as a President’s Medalist, Denison’s highest student honor. The preeminent criterion for receipt of a President’s Medal, established in 1985, is academic achievement. In addition, candidates must embody some combination of the following: service to the community, contribution to the arts, enlargement of the community’s global perspective, athletic fitness and achievement, leadership ability and contribution to community discourse.

Sara Abou Rashed: International Studies, English major and Middle East and North African Studies minor was selected as a 2021 President’s Medalist. In addition, Sara presented the student keynote speech at the 2021 Commencement Ceremony. You can read her written speech or watch Sara deliver the student keynote on YouTube. Her citation reads:

Sara, in the journey of exploration that is the college experience for most students, you have shared on stage and in person, in Columbus and here on campus, “A Map of Myself.” From Thurber House to the Columbus Museum of Art to the Riffe Center, you have shared a story from your childhood in Damascus, Syria to this country in a personal style that brings the listener on that refugee journey, which you subtitled “My Odyssey to America.” Your nominators made it clear that you have exemplified what it means to move out of one’s comfort zone, and to be engaged with the community around you in ways that challenge us all to consider where we’ve been and where we’re going. In poetry, in history, in economics and in leadership, you have been a student who not only stands out, but your teachers all note how you have a gift for bringing other students out with you into new places of self-understanding and global discovery. You listen well along with speaking powerfully, and one of your professors noted that you are both a thinker and a doer. It is that sort of combination of both reflection and action, personal experience, and liberal arts education, that makes you an absolutely necessary part of our President’s Medalist class for 2021.

May 26, 2021