The University of Kentucky has honored two students with awards for their demonstration of superior involvement and service in the university and Lexington community. Recipients were Ngoc Phan, who received the Otis A. Singletary Outstanding Senior Award and Ranym Nenneh, who was recognized with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.
Ngoc Phan, who is a computer science major from Vietnam, used her background to serve as an outstanding role model to new international students with the International Student Leadership Team.
Karen Slaymaker, assistant director of International Student and Scholar Services and Seth Hall, academic coordinator of the same office, said that Phan led, created and executed several ISLT programs aimed at breaking down social and cultural barriers among UK students and advising new international students on cultural and social adjustment to life in the United States. They explained that through her commitment to community and inclusivity, Phan was a key contributor to UK’s inclusive and supportive environment.
When Phan heard her name as the recipient, she was very proud and thankful for everyone who supported her throughout her time at UK. “I wanted to join and lead organizations that will create a welcoming community for students like myself, and I am truly grateful for being recognized by my school and the people I worked with,” she added.
Phan also served as a student ambassador for the #IAMWomanInSTEM. Slaymaker and Hall said that she encouraged and mentored female students in STEM, bringing a diverse group of students together to build friendships and to learn from each other. Additionally, she was the vice president for the Association of Computing Machinery for Women (ACM-W), where she organized professional, academic and social opportunities for women in programming.
“Ngoc helped students develop the necessary study and time management skills to be successful in college,” Hall said. “Through her compassion, students found academic success in large part because of her dedication to helping.”
Ranym Nenneh, international student from Syria who previously received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2018 from UK and will graduate with a master’s degree in social work this year, advocated for inclusion and respect for students from diverse religious, cultural and national backgrounds. Slaymaker said Nenneh has made significant contributions to the well-being of the wider Lexington community.
“Even with her home country in-the-midst of a civil war, Ranym persevered with her studies and wasn’t stopped from sharing her many contributions with students and the community,” Slaymaker said. “Nenneh has shown her leadership by helping develop a diversity and inclusion plan for Academic Coaching.”
Nenneh also has served as a volunteer in the Lexington community since 2017, devoting her time and energy to work with UK several organizations. Nenneh has been a crisis counselor and a medical and legal advocate for Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center. Additionally, she has served as the MSW Ambassador and Volunteer Coordinator for the UK Salvation Army Free Clinic.
“I am so honored and grateful to be the recipient of such a prestigious award,” Nenneh said. “Receiving this award is a wonderful recognition of years of hard work serving my community. I am glad and humbled to know that my hard work has had a significant and positive impact on those around me.”
Phan and Nenneh are examples of passion for learning, service and leadership demonstrated through their time in college. International students like them, who share their energy and talent, bring global perspectives that enrich UK’s learning environment and community.