Kennesaw State presents inaugural International Achievement Awards

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Outstanding alumni, faculty and community partners recognized for global contributions   

KENNESAW, Ga.  (April 8, 2014) — Kennesaw State University presented its inaugural International Achievement Awards during a special ceremony April 8.

The awards, including the Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth awards to distinguished alumni and faculty and special global public service and community partner awards, recognized individuals whose outstanding work or service has made a global impact.

“Presenting our first international achievement awards is a milestone for Kennesaw State University,” said Daniel S. Papp, president. “Over the years, KSU has become known for its focus on international and intercultural learning, and engaged citizenship. These awards are another step in our growth in this arena.  They reflect our commitment to prepare students for an increasingly globalized world.”

The 2014 International Achievement Awards recipients are:

  • Terry Powis, associate professor of anthropology

Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement

Powis has led several excavations in Pacbitun, Belize, which have yielded important findings about trade, social stratification, and the culture of pre-classical Mayan civilization. He has invited students to participate in these excavations, giving them experience working in real archeological sites. His research has been published in several high-profile journals, including Nature and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and his research into the origins of cacao consumption has been reported in the mainstream press. He also is author of “New Perspectives on Formative Mesoamerican Cultures.” A passionate supporter of international learning, he leads study-abroad programs to Belize;  and serves on the University’s Global Engagement Committee and as global learning coordinator for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

  • H.E. John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana

Global Public Service Scholarship Prize

Since becoming president of Ghana in 2012, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has served as an ambassador for the Global Fund in order to champion worldwide vaccination and immunization efforts. In 2013, he received the Africa Award for Excellence in Food Security and Poverty Reduction from the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. Before becoming president, Mahama spent 13 years as a member of parliament, where he held key government positions, including deputy minister of communications, and was a founding member of the Ghana AIDS Commission. Outside of Ghana, he was part of a group of international observers that monitored the 2002 elections in Zimbabwe, and was a member of the Pan African Parliament, serving as chair of the West African Caucus, and as a member of the European and Pan African Parliament’s Ad-hoc Committee on Cooperation. Before government service, Mahama worked with the anti-poverty non-governmental organization Plan International. In 2013, President Mahama became the first-ever sitting president to visit Kennesaw State.  

  • Nell Diallo, Vice-President of Medshare

Distinguished International Community Partner Award

Diallo is vice president of international and corporate relations for Medshare, a nonprofit organization that collects surplus medical supplies and equipment from hospitals, distributors and manufacturers, then redistributes them to qualified healthcare facilities in the developing world. Nell has helped cultivate a strong partnership between MedShare and Kennesaw State University. MedShare has hosted nursing students and members of the KSU LINK leadership program as volunteers to help sort and assemble medical supply orders, and has provided medical supplies for Kennesaw State study abroad students to deliver to clinics in Oaxaca, Mexico. In 2008, Kennesaw State and the University of Cape Coast in Ghana worked with MedShare to ship $500,000 worth of medical supplies to the UCC Hospital. Nell also served as director of the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) in Congo.

  • Yusof Safi, Cultural Trainer and Interpreter


Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award

Safi is an experienced cultural advisor, lead trainer, and interpreter for the U.S. armed forces, working with multiple government contractors to help train U.S. soldiers on Afghani languages and customs. He graduated from Kennesaw State in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Following the start of military actions in Afghanistan in 2003, Safi left his successful accounting career – with CFO and director of finance titles – to work with the United States Agency for International Development as a senior advisor to the Ministry of Finance. Since 2006, he has provided cultural training and interpreter services to troops at multiple bases, including Fort Polk, La., Fort Bragg, N.C. and Fort Irwin, Calif. He speaks Dari, Farsi, Pashto and German, and can read and write Arabic. He was born in Afghanistan but is a naturalized U.S. citizen. While at Kennesaw State, Safi helped create the Islamic Student Association and the Kennesaw International Student Association and continues to support the University’s Initiative to Educate Afghan Women Scholarship program.

The international awards are organized by Kennesaw State’s Institute for Global Initiatives with financial support from Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth, for whom the awards to faculty and alumni have been named. Jagdish Sheth, a renowned scholar of marketing, consumer behavior and emerging global markets, is the Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing at Emory University and the author of more than 300 papers and books.

“Kennesaw State has been very fortunate to have partners like the Sheths and an internationally engaged campus community to help launch its first awards program,” said Lance Askildson, Kennesaw State’s senior international officer and executive director of the Institute for Global Initiatives.  “From the very beginning, students, faculty and staff have worked with IGI to determine criteria, nominate and select the recipients.  We look forward to recognizing these distinguished individuals who have made outstanding global contributions.”

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 24,600 from 130 countries.