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Graduating seniors earn honorsFrom top left: International Institute graduating seniors Sara Moya, Zoe Reineicke, Katherine Gan, Abbey Willet, Jenna Neher, Nicole Miller, Laura Rabago, Naomi Stephen and Deanna Fanelli.

Graduating seniors earn honors

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UCLA International Institute, June 12, 2021 — Several graduating seniors who majored in International Development Studies and Global Studies at the International Institute have earned signal honors for their superior academic performance and social activism.

Graduating Global Studies major Sara Moya recently completed a two-year scholarship in the McNair Research Scholars Program — an intensive research-based program that prepares diverse students to apply to and excel in doctoral programs. Moya presented her research paper, “Paqueterías: Transnationalism for Mexican Immigrants in Los Angeles,” at the final meeting of her McNair cohort in late May.

The paper illustrated that paqueterías — courier services that convey such things as food, homemade ceramics and medicines to and from Mexico — shape the transnational experience of undocumented Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles. The inability of these immigrants to travel home, Moya concludes, does not preclude a lived transnational experience.

Her hard work in the McNair program had paid off: Moya has been accepted into the doctoral program in geography at UCLA, where she will start this coming fall.

In the International Development Studies (IDS) program, seniors Zoe Reineicke and Katherine Gan both received the 2021 IDS Academic Award, while Nicole Miller and Laura Rabago received the 2021 IDS Activist Award. The awards are conferred annually on graduating seniors.

Both Academic Award winners are IDS Honors students. Zoe Reineicke was celebrated for superior research that she conducted with both the African Studies Center and the Global Development Lab at UCLA. Katherine Gan was recognized for a research paper she wrote on the water crisis in Algeria for a class on politics in the Maghreb.

Honorable mentions for the Academic Award, Abbey Willet and Jenna Neher, were also top students in the program. An IDS Honors student, Willet was a member of the Global Development Lab, where students study international development and design a proposed development project. In addition to her excellent academic performance, Neher was active in two UCLA student organizations: she founded The Surfrider Foundation and was a committee manager for Bruin Women in Business.

Our Activist Award winners devoted significant time to working with student service organizations during their studies at UCLA. Throughout her four years on campus, Nicole Miller was actively involved in the leadership of the UCLA chapter of FISH (Fellowship for International Service and Health), a service organization that regularly organizes trips to provide basic medical services to targeted populations in developing countries.

As an intern with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Laura Rabago helped co-write a report on the history and evolution of the Agency’s Youth Workforce Development. After benefiting from international internships while a Bruin, she also co-founded and served as president of the GIVE at UCLA student association, which applies lessons of leadership, sustainable development and global citizenship to activism in the local greater Los Angeles community. Robago is currently finishing up her coursework and is slated to officialy graduate in December 2021.

IDS seniors who received honorable mentions for the Activist Award also did notable service work while earning their undergraduate degrees. Naomi Stephen worked with service organizations throughout her studies, including GOODdler and HOPE Worldwide. Deanna Fanelli was active in the Global Development Lab at UCLA, worked as a research intern for Burkle Center for International Affairs and is currently interning at Strategic Impact Advisors (based in Washington, DC).

The UCLA International Institute congratulates all nine students on their exemplary achievements and congratulates them on their graduation.