Alumni Awards Recognize Distinguished Dragons

Posted in Cross Roads, Summer 2020, Alumni News

Each year, the Drexel Alumni Awards honor the outstanding accomplishments of alumni and students.

This year’s award recipients represent how entrepreneurs, advocates, engineers and business, community and creative leaders can create solutions, spur progress and tangibly enhance peoples’ lives. We recognize the following Dragons for their boundless capacity for innovation, their creativity and their determination to improve their communities and beyond.

1. A SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST AND PHOTOJOURNALIST

RACHEL WISNIEWSKI

Young Alumni Entrepreneur Award

RACHEL WISNIEWSKI

BA photography ’16

Owner, Rachel Wisniewski Photography

Wisniewski has combined her passions for social justice and photojournalism to speak to issues such as HIV/AIDS, income inequality, LGBT rights and the #MeToo movement. She says that she hopes to “use photojournalism to educate, dispel stereotypes and provide platforms to causes that have been under-reported.”


2. A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR COMBATTING TEEN SUICIDE

Gabby Frost

Outstanding Student Award

GABBY FROST

Class of 2020, music industry

CEO and Founder of Buddy Project

At 15 years old, after hearing many of her friends online expressing feelings of loneliness and depression, Frost started the organization Buddy Project as an online support system for young people suffering from suicidal thoughts and mental health issues. “Just giving people a community gives them a sense of belonging. I knew I wanted to create that,” she says.


3. A CHAMPION FOR WOMEN LEADERS IN ENGINEERING

elizabeth hoffman headshot

Service to Profession Award

ELIZABETH HOFFMAN

BS materials science and engineering ’02, PhD ’07

Director of Innovation and University Engagement, Savannah River National Laboratory

Hoffman works to integrate laboratory-wide programs to expand and deepen research that supports Department of Energy missions. Her nominator, former College of Engineering Department Head and Professor Michele Marcolon go, says, “As a woman leader in a largely male-dominated field, Liz serves as a role model to othersto achieve their potential within science and engineering fields.”


4. A VOICE FOR ASIAN AMERICANS, REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS

Nary Kith

Irick Society Award for Civic Engagement

NARY KITH

BS business administration ’03, MS family therapy ’07

Kith came to the United States as a refugee from the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia and has been on a mission to serve the Asian-American and refugee population. “Since graduation in 2007, Nary has used her education, her experience and her hard-earned privilege to give back to her community — to raise up families and individuals in need so that they, too, may thrive in this country,” says her nominator Jocelyn Jennings, MFT ’07.


5. A ROLE MODEL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN STEM

Burks headshot

Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award

GABRIEL R. BURKS

MS/PhD materials science and engineering ’18

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Burks wears many hats — all of which are dedicated to introducing STEM education to those who are underrepresented and underserved. “His work of being an educator and engineer extends beyond the lab or the classroom to positively impacting his community and society as a whole,” says his nominator, former College of Engineering Department Head and Professor, Michele Marcolongo.


6. A PIONEER IN ULTRASOUND TECHNOLOGY

jaydev headshot

Young Alumni Emerging Leader Award

JAYDEV DAVE

MS biomedical engineering ’08, PhD ’13

Associate Professor, Department of Radiology, Thomas Jefferson University

Dave is transferring his prior the sis work at Drexel into potentially life-saving clinical trials. He has emerged as a pioneer in the field of nonlinear ultrasound with his work to noninvasively monitor and detect cardiac disease. “He frequently lectures undergraduate and graduate students on medical ultrasound and also serves as a thesis advisor to biomedical engineering graduate students at Drexel,” says his nominator John Eisenbrey, MS ’09, PhD ’10.


7. AN ADVOCATE FOR THE UNDERREPRESENTED IN ACADEMIC SPACES

Natalie Chernets Headshot

Faculty/Staff Alumni Award for Campus Impact

NATALIE CHERNETS

PhD electrical engineering ’14

Director of Postdoctoral Affairs and Professional Development, Associate Director of the MD/PhD Program, Drexel College of Medicine

Chernets regularly goes beyond her daily duties of supporting, promoting and advocating for Drexel’s postdoctoral and MD/PhD communities. “She works hard to make sure that there is representation of women and underrepresented minorities in academic spaces and she does so, boldly, with a strong sense of determination and collaboration across the University,” says her nominator, Shawnna Thomas El, BS ’90, MS ’96, PhD ’19.


8. A TRAILBLAZER IN SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

max headshot

Alumni Entrepreneur Award

MAX ZAHNISER

BS architecture ’03

CEO, Nexus City Coho

Zahniser is a Philadelphia leader in the areas of regenerative design and sustainability, starting the city’s only sustainable co-working space, Nexus City Coho. And his work helps the Drexel community as well. “Max co-developed the Sustainable Built Environment minor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, and continues to teach in it, while also advising students interested in careers in his area,” says his nominator and member of the Alumni Board of Governors, Paul Gondek, BS ’74.


Nominate an outstanding alumnus or student at drexel.edu/alumni/about/awards.
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