Awards & Funding
Charles C. Stewart International Young Humanitarian Award Recipients
Established in 2005, and endowed by Charles C. Stewart in 2007, this award recognizes the accomplishments of an Illinois graduate whose dedicated international service exemplifies the highest ideals of selflessness and dedication to the welfare of communities outside of the United States.
Gloria Yen received a B.M. in Music History from the University of Illinois in 2011 before earning an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. Her commitment to working alongside marginalized communities has led her to the fields of human development and disability studies, black oral history, and most recently, immigrant integration. As Director of the New American Welcome Center (NAWC) at the University YMCA, she has the great privilege of leading a mighty team of relentless advocates in pursuit of equitable access, economic opportunity, and meaningful belonging for immigrants in Champaign County where every 1 in 9 residents is foreign-born.
Gloria’s built upon a long legacy of welcoming at the University YMCA by cultivating strategic collaborations and programming to help address community-identified needs-- playing a central role in securing over $1 million in funding to support resource navigation initiatives, immigration legal services, access to justice, and community-bridge building efforts. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Gloria mobilized emergency rapid response efforts, using innovative outreach and service strategies to raise and distribute over $160,000 in emergency financial assistance, create a multilingual COVID-19 resource guide, and advocate for the inclusion of immigrant communities, regardless of status, in local and statewide relief efforts.
As a US DOJ Partially Accredited Representative, Gloria provides immigration legal representation for low-income and indigent persons in Champaign County. Gloria is also an appointed member of the Illinois Social Services Advisory Council and serves on the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission’s Community Action Board.
A current resident of Historic East Urbana (#urbanalove) and self-proclaimed foodie, you can find Gloria enjoying the Urbana Farmer’s market, trying new recipes (@gloria.yen) and watching YouTube videos of street food vendors across the world.
Jeff Badu is a serial entrepreneur and a wealth multiplier. He’s a Licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and the Founder and CEO of Badu Enterprises, LLC, which is a multinational conglomerate that owns several key companies. His marquee company is Badu Tax Services, LLC, which is a CPA firm that specializes in tax preparation, tax planning, and tax representation for individuals and businesses. Another key company is Badu Investments, LLC, which is primarily a real estate investment company that acquires residential and commercial real estate properties in areas such as the South Side of Chicago in efforts to restore traditionally underserved areas. What sparked his interest in launching these companies is his passion for helping people minimize their tax liability and ultimately multiplying their money by investing it and building multi-generational wealth. His purpose in life is to inspire and support the super hungry to take hold of infinite resources in order to create an abundant lifestyle.
He’s extremely passionate about financial literacy and currently hosts various financial literacy workshops throughout the country. He’s a public speaker and his overall mission in life is very simple: to make a lasting positive impact in as many lives as possible, especially when it comes to their finances.
Adam Brakhane completed his Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering in 2014. Just before his Junior year, a new engineering class was introduced: Honduras Water Project. He joined on a whim and was quickly introduced to the idea of holistic engineering design that incorporates the social, cultural and technical implementations of a project.
While visiting Honduras for the class project survey trip, he connected with other long-term volunteers from International Rural Water Association (IRWA) and Agua y Desarrollo Comunitario (ADEC). These relationships would become invaluable over the following years, as he continued to come back to Honduras. With his computer engineering background, he created pressure monitoring devices that could be placed around communities to better monitor and improve water systems. Adam continues to work with these organizations, providing technical assistance and analytics.
In 2017, Adam and several other past students from the Honduras Water Project class decided to take their passion for holistic design of water projects and create Akelos, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Akelos partners with nonprofits around the world to provide resources they may be lacking: the ability to work with local NGOs, engineering design, administration, community health, grant experience, and more.
Adam currently works at Tovala, a food-tech startup in Chicago, where he serves as Director of Software Engineering.
Brittany Koteles graduated from Illinois with a self-designed major in Nonprofit Management and Social Innovation, and a minor in Spanish. Having built much of her plan of study around Illinois’ service-learning courses, she was an active advocate for campus wide growth and adoption of service-learning offerings. She served as a student advisor and instructor for the re-launch of Learning in Community, conducted the Center for Teaching Excellence’s first longitudinal study of service-learning in Big Ten schools, and presented at two UI Public Engagement Symposiums on her work. She went on to consult with the global Changemaker Campus network, helping colleges and universities on to embed more curriculum-based opportunities for students to be Changemakers.
In 2011, she pursued a Fulbright Fellowship in Barcelona, where she spent three years uncovering, sharing, and advancing the story of social entrepreneurship in Spain. There, she wrote the book Stories of Scale, nine case studies of social entrepreneurs from across the country; taught and spoke about social entrepreneurship in public schools; and helped form the launch team for the Barcelona Impact Hub, a community space for local social innovators.
She currently directs the Fellowship program for Ashoka, the world’s largest network of leading social entrepreneurs. In this role, she designs tools, experiences, and opportunities for the 200+ Ashoka Fellows based in the United States, serving as a social sector “dot-connector,” helping Fellows maximize their impact, and writing about trends in the field of social entrepreneurship. She also helped to launch a new initiative to diversify the Ashoka Fellowship, especially in terms of race, gender, and geography; an initiative that has had ramifications on other global programs at Ashoka.
Brittany is active in the Washington DC community as a facilitator, improviser, activist, and dabbling filmmaker. She is currently designing an alternative, secular chaplaincy program to support the inner growth of the world’s leading changemakers, in collaboration with the Open Master’s network.
Patricia Lazicki received her Master's in natural resources and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois, focusing on soil science and sustainable nutrient management in agroecosystems. In 2011, she worked for ACDI Lusekele, an extension and research center in rural Democratic Republic of Congo, where she assessed options for affordable and meaningful soil testing methods. In 2013, she joined the faculty of Njala University in Sierra Leone. Her work included developing curriculum for and teaching soil science classes, and mentoring student research. She cooperated with her Njala colleagues on a variety of research projects, including screening legume species for suitability in reclaiming marginal lands, adapting a method for measuring labile organic carbon, and assessing the potential of different biochars for increasing fertilizer use efficiency in field and nursery settings. Simultaneously she coordinated the University of Illinois' study abroad program with Njala and served as a liaison between the two universities.
Following the disruption of the Sierra Leone program due to the 2014 Ebola epidemic she continued to work for Illinois, conducting soil testing and fertilizer management workshops in the Republic of Georgia through the Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) program. Ms. Lazicki currently works for an extension project at the University of California Davis, summarizing fertilizer research into user-friendly, interactive online guidelines for efficient crop nutrient management.
T. Patrick Walsh
Patrick Walsh is a founder of Greenlight Planet Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of solar-powered LED lights for the developing world. Walsh was honored for his work with Greenlight. He designed Greenlight Planet's first solar lantern as an undergraduate student after spending a summer in rural India with the campus student organization Engineers Without Borders. The company has so far sold over three million Sun King lamps to off-grid families in South Asia and Africa.
He graduated from Illinois in 2007 with a B.S. in engineering physics and a B.A. in economics.
David J. Krupa
David J. Krupa is a founder of the non-profit organization Range of Motion Project (ROMP) in Guatemala. Krupa was honored for his impact in prosthetics care in Latin America and Pakistan, which has brought mobility and hope to countless lives that may not have otherwise had access to needed care.
It is estimated that ROMP has helped fit more than 1,500 amputees in Latin America since the project began. He also founded his own orthopedic importation business, Krupa O&P, which supplies critical components and materials to countless other prosthetics clinics throughout Ecuador.
He received his B.S. in biology from the University of Illinois in 2002.
Abram J. Bicksler
Dr. Abram J. Bicksler completed his M.S. and Ph.D. in natural resources and environmental sciences at Illinois, focusing on sustainable vegetable production. He is director of Sustainability Research for the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute (ISDSI) in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Dr. Bicksler was honored for his work on sustainable tropical agriculture in Thailand and Cambodia, which has the potential to make a significant contribution to alleviating hunger and poverty among farming communities throughout Asia. He also works with the ECHO Asia Impact Center, which provides technical support for individuals and organizations working in agriculture and community development activities among smallholder farmers throughout Asia.
Benjamin Barnes enrolled at Illinois in Fall 2003 and began volunteering with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) that same semester. Since then, he served in various roles on the EWB executive board, designed outreach and education programs, and volunteered on energy and water projects in rural areas. His first project was a partnership with a village in Southeast India, where the EWB team designed and constructed a low-tech biofuel electricity system.
In 2005, he co-founded the Adu Achi Water Project in Nigeria. After years of fundraising, assessment trips, and design work, the team began implementing the well and distribution system design. Over the next few years, Ben spent over 16 months living in Adu Achi. While there, he facilitated meetings in which the community members designed the system's management structure and provided input on the technical design. As a result, he developed a deeper understanding of Adu Achi's needs and capacity and modified the system design extensively. Ben graduated in 2009, and as of 2012 worked for the Construction Engineering Research Lab (CERL) on energy and water planning at the neighborhood level. He continues to work with the Adu Achi project in his free time.
Judd Holzman is Executive Director of Link Community Development USA (Link USA), a non-profit organization working to improve the quality of education for children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Judd is responsible for providing overall leadership and management to Link USA. He led the initiative to establish and launch Link in the U.S., opening Link USA’s first office in Chicago in 2008.
Judd has a Master's degree from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelor's degree in Religious Studies from the University of Illinois, where he studied comparative religion. During his junior year, he studied at the University of Oxford as a Visiting Student and Chad Lobdell Scholar. He has also studied in India as a Ford Foundation Scholar. Judd’s major areas of interest include global education, advocacy, and leadership training. He is a volunteer advisor to Youth United for Darfur, a non-profit youth organization that advocates for ending the genocide in Darfur. He is also a member of the Chicago Transformational Leadership Exchange, an organization for Chicago business and civic leaders.
Joel Cuffey joined the M.S. program in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics in August 2006. His thesis research represents the first field study that links food security measures and socio-economic information on people living with HIV and AIDS, with medical records on health outcomes. Mr. Cuffey’s research involved working directly with the Emanuel Hospital Association (EHA) in India, and was designed to inform the delivery of health care and support programs in India. While working for six months in a small Delhi hospital under difficult conditions, Mr. Cuffey proved to be a good ambassador for his Department and our university.
Mr. Cuffey further demonstrated his devotion to public health care through his work with HIV/AIDS in Uganda, where he served as the field coordinator for a research study for 14 months. In this capacity, he worked alongside leading African organizations that provide medical care and treatment services to more than 100,000 people living with HIV and AIDS. Mr. Cuffey currently lives in Prague, Czech Republic.
Elizabeth Pierre-Louis was born and raised in Haiti. She is a librarian and a demographer. She studied Social Science, Population Science (Demography) at the University of Paris X-Nanterre and obtained her Ph.D. in Demography in July 2004. She also obtained her MLS at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2003 and graduated with the Robert and Jane Downs Award for Professional Promise.
In 1997, she began to work at the Fondation Connaissance et Liberté FOKAL, a national Foundation of the Open Society Institute, financed by American philanthropist, George Soros. She was then a library trainer having received in 1997, a six-month long training session at the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2003, she became Library Program Coordinator at FOKAL, trying to create a network with the 35 community libraries supported financially and technically by the Foundation. These community libraries, though dedicated to public service, receive no state funding. She is an Institutional Member of the Executive Council of the Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institution Libraries (ACURIL) and received and the Acuril President’s award for her work in 2007.
Peter Rohloff is a native of Vermont. In 1999, he moved to Illinois to begin graduate school, and he completed his Ph.D. in pathobiology in 2003 and his M.D. in 2007, both at the University of Illinois.
He began working in Guatemala in 2002, and has a broad range of research and service interests there, including ethnography of health and disease, ethnobotany and ethnomedicine, textile production, and resource-poor health care delivery. Currently he serves as executive director of Wuqu'™ Kawoq, an NGO providing health care, community education, and capacity building in Mayan languages. He began a medical residency in internal medicine/pediatrics in Boston in July 2008.
Panduranga Semma Kini
Panduranga Semma Kini served for one year as campus chapter president and two years as treasurer of Amnesty International and coordinated the chapter’s first conference—Global Problems, Local Solutions. She was appointed to the Campus Licensing Committee and also acted as editor of Environmental Resources. As a senior, she became the secretary of the University YMCA’s Board of Governors, working to develop ethical, affirmative, and responsible leadership for creative social change.
Off campus, Ms. Kimi completed an internship volunteering with the United Nations Association of St. Louis in 2002, educating the community about the prevention and treatment of AIDS and other diseases. She completed a second internship in 2003, in Brazil, where she worked to develop a comprehensive human rights education plan. Her preliminary findings and recommendations were presented by the National Secretary for External Affairs in a meeting of Brazil’s National Committee for Human Rights Education. During the summer of 2004, Ms. Kimi completed an internship at the Washington University School of Medicine involving a clinical study of spinal cord injuries. After graduating in 2005 with dual degrees in political science and economics (achieving Bronze Tablet, Phi Beta Kappa, and Senior 100 honors) Ms. Kimi completed a term of service as an AmeriCorps member with the Task Force for the Homeless in Atlanta. For her exemplary service, she was recognized as “Member of the Year” by the AmeriCorps Task Force Team.
Mr. Watson currently serves as Deputy Field Office Director for Save the Children/U.S. in Darfur, Sudan after serving the organization in Guinea addressing the needs of former child soldiers from Sierra Leone and Liberia. Previous to these posts, he worked in both Senegal and Guinea as a Peace Corps volunteer; conducted workshops in Cameroon aimed at countering the spread of HIV/AIDS; and worked in Eritrea with the Eritrean Ministry of Education to train new Peace Corps Volunteers.
Mr. Watson is a graduate of Purdue University and earned an M.S. in Public Health degree and a master’s degree in African studies from the University of Illinois. While at Illinois, he was awarded a Ford Foundation research fellowship to conduct research at the Southern African Regional Institute for Policy Studies in Zimbabwe and served as campus Peace Corps recruiter.