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Elon International Society hosts first student award ceremony

The Elon International Society celebrated the achievements of international students at its year-end banquet on Friday, May 4. 

The Elon International Society celebrated with President Connie Ledoux Book, international faculty and staff, and friends of the international community the achievements of international students at its year-end banquet on Friday, May 4. 

Ana Taveira, vice president-elect, and Sarra Eddahiri, president-elect

The year-end banquet is a time to “get all of the international students together to give each other comfort and encouragement before we take final exams, and also to thank our international faculty and staff and local friends,” said Barang Phuk, the group’s treasurer.

This was the society’s fourth annual year-end banquet, but it was the first to feature an international student award ceremony. Sarra Eddahiri, the vice president and president-elect, said that this would not have been possible without the contribution of each member on the society’s executive board and the Global Education Center staff.

“Being in charge of the logistics of the first international students award ceremony allowed me to reflect on the path that EIS is currently on,” said Eddahiri. “What began as a student-led organization with the simple mission to connect international students and celebrate diversity on Elon’s campus has become an organization that works on recognizing international students outstanding achievements in different domains including academic achievements, research, leadership and international social impact.”

President Book attended to recognize these outstanding achievements and present the awards. 

“Having President Connie Book and Vice President of Student Life Jon Dooley present at the event truly gave a sense that the international students were supported by the University and its faculty,” said Surya Shahi, the society’s president. “The symbolic gesture of President Connie Book presenting the awards to our students spoke volumes.”

Since her selection as Elon’s ninth president, Book has made clear her commitment to diversity and global engagement. "I absolutely know with every fiber that we are more effective as a diverse community," Book said at a fireside chat in March. This diverse community includes Elon’s international students, who represent over 40 countries, and who have collected a host of accolades including the 2017-2018 International Student Excellence awards.  

Clockwise, from top left: Helena Zaeh, Timon Merk, Jonas Hauser and Marcel Fahrenholz

Highest GPA (4.0):

  • Helena Zaeh
  • Marcel Fahrenholz
  • Timon Merk
  • Jonas Hauser


Academic Research of the year:

Timon Merk — Merk investigated the gender dynamics in venture capital funding decisions in the United States and explored venture capital transaction data to gain insights into why female entrepreneurs tend to face significant challenges in attracting capital from investors to make their businesses thrive.


Emerging Leader:

Shariq Ali


Outstanding Leader:

Barang Phuk


International Social Impact:

Surya Shahi


Aurelia Hamm, Sheefali Kavthankar and Ana Taveira

“The presence of President Book and her participation in presenting the awards at our first International Students Award Ceremony was very influential and encouraging for me, as the next EIS president,” Eddahiri said. “I hope to work on increasing the recognition of international students on campus and building an inspiring, larger and more connected international community that celebrates and encourages diversity as well as intellectual and leadership achievements among international students.”

International student Aurelia Hamm expressed her satisfaction with the event. “I’m really glad we got to hand out awards this year,” said Hamm. “We’re grateful this many people showed up and are looking forward to many more people getting involved in the future so that international students may find a place of comfort within Elon.”

Elon faculty and staff also attended the banquet to celebrate the achievements of the international student community. Glenn Scott, associate professor of communications said he was impressed with the contributions of Elon’s international students. 

From left to right: local friends Donna and Ralph Harwood, Mussa Idris, Glenn and Misako Scott, Marilyn Slade, and Jon Dooley

“As I looked around the room at such an impressive group of students, I was struck with a thought that here, perhaps more than in any group, we could see leaders who will bring credit to Elon,” said Scott. “Our international students are high achievers and determined risk-takers. They are bilingual and trilingual. They can move smoothly among many types of people. Being part of this Elon group, this society, is a marker for success. It was really pleasant just to be among them, and I hope our number of international students continues to grow.”


Natalie Zagorski '20 and Zoe Budsworth '19 contributed reporting and Ana Taveira '19 contributed photos

Shanna Van Beek,
5/15/2018 9:15 AM