As launch week officially begins at UC Santa Barbara, the university has announced the recipients of its most prestigious student honors, given for academic achievement, extraordinary service, and personal courage and perseverance.
• Emily Elizabeth Lopez won the Thomas More Storke Excellence Award, the campus’ highest honor, for her outstanding scholarship and extraordinary service to the university, its students, and the community.
• Michael Zargari won the Jeremy D. Friedman Memorial Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership, superior scholarship, and contributions to undergraduate life on campus.
• Hugh Darius David Cook won the Alyce Marita Whitted Memorial Award, which recognizes the endurance, perseverance and courage of a non-traditional student in the face of extraordinary challenges while pursuing a university education.
An awards ceremony for recipients of these and other student awards, as well as their families, faculty, and staff, will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, June 10 at Corwin Hall.
The Yonie Harris Award for Civility in Public Discourse will be awarded to Vonnie Feng Wei. The honor is awarded to graduates who best exemplify the principles of free speech and respectful dialogue and who foster a climate of civility and openness on campus.
Timnit Kefela and Ryan Flaco Rising will receive the Michael D. Young Engaged Scholar Award for students who successfully translate their knowledge and/or scholarly values into action.
The University Service Award, University Award of Distinction and Vice Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship, Leadership and Citizenship will be awarded to several graduating and graduating students. The winner of the 2022 Mortar Board Award, which recognizes the student with the highest cumulative GPA in the class, will be announced at the ceremony.
Storke Prize-winning Lopez is cited for her academic excellence and positive contributions to the UCSB campus community, where she promoted greater access for underrepresented groups in math and science. Her pursuit of challenging academic goals, her perseverance in the face of adversity, and her dedication to fostering opportunity for others are what led her to be selected for the university’s highest honor.
A transfer student from College of the Canyons, Lopez arrived at UCSB in 2018 to study math at the College of Creative Studies. She’s a first-generation student and the only Latina in her cohort of 22 students — a fact she was proud of and used as motivation to persist as a mathematician and role model.
In addition to completing her coursework, Lopez has been involved in multiple research and mentorship initiatives, including as an undergraduate research assistant, research intern at Williams College, and UCSB McNair Scholar.
His research has resulted in a peer-reviewed publication, an award-winning poster presentation, and talks at the SACNAS National Diversity Conference and the Northeastern Mathematics Research Experience for Undergraduates conference, among other events.
Lopez is a member of several academic societies, including the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, the American Mathematical Society, and the Association for Women in Mathematics.
Winner of several scholarships and awards, she moved on to a graduate program at Cornell University, where she would be a Dean’s Scholar, Dean’s Excellence Scholar, and NSF Graduate Researcher.
Friedman Award-winning Zargari is a UCSB Promise Scholar who, in her freshman year, founded the Promise Scholars Advisory Board to create networking opportunities and education space for low-income, first-generation students and underrepresented. He has also served on the Student Health Advisory Committee, as well as the UCSB Student Health Insurance Plan Advisory Committee and the system-wide UCSHIP Committee.
Working as a budget analyst for the Comptroller’s Associate Student Office, Zargari sought to restructure budget allocations and spending procedures for AS organizations to boost student engagement without increasing fees. He has also served on the Tuition Advisory Committee and volunteered with the Community Financial Assistance Fund.
Zargari holds a double major in Economics and Statistics and Data Science, and a double minor in Iranian Studies and Translation Studies. His research contributions include creating and administering a survey to assess student mental health before and after the completion of economics courses; and working with endangered languages, filming and translating videos of older Persian Jews from Farsi and Old Judeo-Persian into English.
One of the first two Promise Fellows, a new initiative for UCSB graduates, Zargari will next pursue a master’s degree in environmental data science at the Bren School.
Cook, the Whitted Award winner, has dedicated his time at UCSB to helping recovering students. As a peer recovery intern for Gauchos in Recovery, he focused on overdose prevention education, mentoring, and producing articles and blog posts for the alcohol program and drugs. In this capacity, he also testified before the California State Assembly as an advocate for recovering students.
Characterized as a talented and inspirational writer who used words to foster bonds between students, Cook wrote for the Daily Nexus and The Bottom Line, and participated in the campus Poets Club, writing and performing numerous poems. He was president of the Postal Art Club.
After graduating from UCSB, where he majored in writing and literature, Cook will pursue a master’s degree in counseling psychology at Pacifica Graduate School.