Building Robust & Inclusive Democracy

14 Students Honored with Tufts 2024 Presidential Awards for Civic Life

The Presidential Award for Civic Life is the highest recognition for service, leadership, and civic engagement conferred by Tufts University. Each year, Tisch College, in collaboration with partners from across the University, is proud to help select and celebrate outstanding individuals who combined academic achievement with a profound impact on communities near and far, helping to address some of the biggest challenges in our society.

School of Arts and Sciences

Headshot Saffiyah Coker

Saffiyah Veronica Masireh Coker, Economics & International Relations, A24

"How can we create joy and take up space? These questions have composed my time at Tufts. Through working with the Africana Center on the Black Women's Empowerment Conference and in other spaces at Tufts, I have seen the power of uplifting and learning from those around you. A love for others has taught me how I want to move through the world. Above all, be curious. Question the structures that exist around you and find like minded people who can grow your visions with you."

Headshot of Alexandra Tatiana Dingle

Alexandra Tatiana Dingle, International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies, A24

"At the core of my civic engagement lies a profound love for the people and communities that surround me. This affection is embodied within my interactions, whether with fellow students and professors at Tufts or the inspiring youth I've collaborated with in Greece, India, and Jordan. Through embracing others in building solidarity — listening intently to stories, nurturing connections, and immersing myself among diverse settings — I am continuously fueled to contribute to the creation of a more equitable and empowering society where every voice is valued and respected.

I firmly believe that genuine transformation of global systems and conventional protection structures, anchored in principles of peace and inclusivity, hinges on our ability to lead with empathy and compassion. The potential for meaningful change resides within each of our hearts, and it is the prospect of true justice that propels me forward as I strive towards a liberated future."

Headshot of Adrian Huq

Adrian Huq, Applied Environmental Studies, A24

"I am honored to be a recipient of the 2024 Presidential Award for Civic Life. My experience with leadership and civic engagement began when I was a junior in high school, and I am proud to have still continued my work on localized climate action through policy change and education with the same organizations throughout my time at Tufts despite being outside of my home state."

Headshot of RuiSha Kingston

RuiSha Kingston, Biology, Psychology, and Environmental Studies, A24

"Community organizations, businesses, and university partners have taught me that curiosity, creativity, and relationship-building are fundamental in pushing for a more inclusive and justice-centered environmental space. I've found a lot of joy in connecting with others who have various backgrounds and building a bridge between our different perspectives. Equitable and meaningful collaboration often leads to innovative solutions to real-world problems. I'm looking forward to bringing these lessons with me throughout the rest of my civic engagement journey."

Headshot of Sabah Lokhandwala

Sabah Lokhandwala, Political Science and Science Technology and Society, A24

"My work is informed by the communities who raised me and continue to teach me about advocacy, care, and progress. My Muslim and South Asian communities at Tufts and beyond have reminded me the importance of civic engagement and how our shared histories should inform and push us to take social and political action. None of us exist in a vacuum and we have a moral and civic responsibility to nurture and protect each other. I hope we all continue to work towards a world free from oppression by means of community. "

Headshot of Wanci Chouaffe Nana

Wanci Chouaffe Nana, Biopsychology, A24

"I’m deeply grateful for the blessings God has given me, feeling called to use these gifts to contribute to my communities. It’s become clear to me that keeping this vision to myself wouldn’t be right. We’re often told about how different we are from each other, but I’ve come to see that we share more similarities than we’re led to believe. I think those in power use our supposed differences to keep us from discovering our real strength, which is found when we work together. This award recognizes that when we lean on what God has taught us about unity and caring for one another, we can achieve incredible things for both individuals and the collective. It’s a call to action for all of us to come together, and to create communities that thrive on compassion and cooperation."

School of Engineering

Headshot of Matthew Patrick Ung

Matthew Patrick Ung, Computer Science, E24

"In our increasingly digital world, I believe engineers have many unique opportunities to effect positive change. From my work in building software for community organizations through JumboCode to my research in providing nonprofits with access to cybersecurity support, I am proud that I’ve been able to use my technical skill set to support Tufts’ community members. I believe it is through this intersection of innovation and social responsibility that we, both as students and as future leaders, can make a meaningful impact."

Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Headshot of Muhammed Shabab Anwar

Muhammed Shabab Anwar, MIB, F24

"I believe your civic engagements are the most true form of expressions of  your convictions that you can see evolve and come to fruition. I started as one of the Co-Leads of  Fletcher South Asia Society, and in my last semester I contribute to six students organizations and have founded Fletcher Muslim Student Association. I have held events where I saw a foot-fall of more that 250 students and 5 students, both equally challenging to organize and fundraise for."

Headshot of Allen Chacko Nelson

Allen Chacko Nelson, MIB, F24

"Life is like a Brachistochrone curve, no matter where you are in life, you always end up together in the end. So the focus should be on return on intention over investment."

Headshot of Rosie Soto

Roseanne "Rosie" Soto, MALD, F24

"My work and service is inspired by my friends and the student body at the Fletcher School and the Tufts community, whom have taught me so much about leadership. Building community, supporting each other, and bringing joy are goals that drive my actions, with the aim of making a meaningful impact. I aspire for our community to continue to be inclusive, welcoming, impactful, and engaged. I'm grateful for the opportunities to express myself and for the kindness from others."

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Headshot of Jaiveer Singh

Jaiveer Singh, Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning (MA), AG24

"Receiving this prestigious award is truly humbling. I dedicate it to all those who have inspired me with their grace, humility, and unwavering commitment to the greater good and community. Their selfless service towards a gentle cause has ignited a fire within me to do more and be more for the betterment of society. I hope we appreciate the beauty of life and strive for justice, for the nourishment and prosperity of all."

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa

School of Medicine

Headshot of Anna K. Daoud

Anna K. Daoud, MD/MPH, M24

"During the long days and nights, I am incredibly thankful for the relationships that I have built throughout this journey. These relationships span from my family, whose experiences as immigrants shaped my passion for health equity, to my undergraduate professors, who established my sociology and public health-driven frame of reference for medicine, and to my patients, faculty, and peers I met during my time at Tufts. I advise other students, in any profession, to listen to the narratives of their patients, peers, mentors, and faculty as these stories will push you further in diagnosis, care, and strengthening relationships more than any piece of solitary quantitative data. Medicine does not occur in a vacuum. Abortion is healthcare."

Headshot of Shantiera Nicole Taylor

Shantiera Nicole Taylor, MD, M24

"Entering medical school, my passion for service was deeply ingrained, fueled by the distressing inequities pervading medical care and affecting patient outcomes. Engaging in enriching civic activities within the Tufts community has been nothing short of illuminating — shedding light on the indispensable role a physician plays when tightly integrated into the community's fabric. Serving as a physician leader within the community is both an honor and a privilege, offering firsthand experience of the challenges patients encounter in accessing quality healthcare — from transportation and housing status to pervasive stigma and bias. This involvement also provides the added benefit of fostering genuine relationships with individuals, which in turn aids in decreasing distrust within the medical system.

These experiences have provided profound insights into tailoring healthcare delivery, advocating for better dissemination of healthcare services, and fostering trust within the healthcare system. Each civic engagement has been a catalyst for personal growth, teaching me to personalize care according to individual needs and to prioritize empathetic listening without judgment to achieve patient-centered outcomes.

As I embark on my surgical residency, I am unwavering in my commitment to serve as a physician leader within the community. My goal is to deepen my understanding of the community's needs and to strive for continual improvement in healthcare delivery. Through continued engagement and dedication, I aim to contribute to the provision of equitable and high-quality healthcare for all."

School of Dental Medicine

Headshot of Arika Neal

Arika Neal, DMD, D24

"One of the most valuable things I've learned through my civic engagement experience here at Tufts is to be able to lean on the community I work with. Service is not a sole job. It's just as important to make yourself vulnerable and share what support you need to fulfill the mission or goal of a service project. Part of what drives me are the stories and experiences I hear from others. Some stories make me laugh and feel warm; others, I feel empathy and compassion. It's the human connection. Part of being human is continually growing; I believe that in order to do this, we must deepen our understanding of one another."