Campus News

MEDLIFE at UGA receives top student organization award

Seena Mansouri and Emma Jones
MEDLIFE at UGA 2020-2021 co-presidents Seena Mansouri and Emma Jones accept the SOAR Award for “Organization of the Year.” (Submitted photo)

MEDLIFE at UGA was named “Organization of the Year” during the 20th Annual H. Gordon and Francis S. Davis Student Organization Achievement and Recognition Awards, given out April 6 at the Tate Student Center. The SOAR Awards celebrate the accomplishments of student organizations at the University of Georgia.

MEDLIFE at UGA is a local chapter of an international nonprofit organization that seeks to provide medicine, education and development for low-income families. Each year, MEDLIFE at UGA offers more than 60 service opportunities to benefit the Athens community and fundraises for their partner communities abroad.

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, MEDLIFE at UGA offered virtual service-learning trips in which members had the opportunity to learn more about global health with experts from the national organization. They also continued to provide safe socially distanced service events and partnered with several local organizations such as Books for Keeps, MEDShare and Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful. While cultivating relationships with local organizations, MEDLIFE at UGA also partnered with local businesses to conduct donation drives.

Other award categories and their recipients are as follows:

  • Most Innovative Program: UGA Homecoming Committee for its “Paw Prowl” in-person and virtual traditions hunt.
  • Organizational Improvement: Chemistry Graduate Student Organization for reorganizing and revitalizing itself by creating a new executive board and undertaking community service and fundraising events.
  • Organizational Collaboration: The Black Affairs Council and the Black Male Leadership Society for co-hosting their Second Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk.
  • Outstanding Campus Event (Small): Student Dietetic Association for its online dietetic internship forum that featured 14 internship directors and 50 dietetics students.
  • Outstanding Campus Event (Large): Vietnamese Student Association for its 17th annual cultural show, Night in Saigon, which was held both in person and online in January 2021.
  • Outstanding New Organization: African Graduate Student Forum for cultivating social, cultural and educational engagements for African graduate students both within the UGA community and the Athens-Clarke County community.
  • Commitment to Social Justice: Hispanic Student Association for “Educa-day,” a social media initiative aimed at highlighting political and social justice issues.
  • Outstanding Cross-Cultural Program: Asian American Student Association for its efforts to build bridges between organizations and individuals on campus.
  • Outstanding Service to the Community – Small (two recipients): Food2Kids for its efforts to feed food insecure families in the Athens area during a time of tremendous need; and The Period Project for its work to eliminate a taboo and provide outreach, education and advocacy for menstrual care.
  • Outstanding Service to the Community (Large): Backpack Project for preparing and distributing meals to those experiencing homelessness in the Athens area.
  • Pillar of the Community: Matthew McDaniel, a fourth-year accounting major whose involvement and service has culminated in the founding of the Student Government Association Professional Clothing Closet, as well as significant contributions to HEROs at UGA and overall campus safety initiatives.
    Matthew McDaniel

    When Matthew McDaniel came to UGA, he knew he wanted to do three things: give back to the university, give back to the community, and further his career. One his proudest accomplishments is helping found UGA’s Professional Clothing Closet to help make sure students have appropriate clothing for job interviews. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski)

  • Advisor of the Year (two recipients): Destiny Loyd, program coordinator for the UGA Mentor Program Ambassadors; and Andrew Darley, advisor to the Georgia Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
  • Candice Sherman Emerging Leader: Shelly Chummar, Miracle at UGA.
  • Bulldog Vision: Patrick Femia, HEROs at UGA.

Destiny Loyd (Photo by Chad Osborn/UGA)

In addition to the awards, Pandora Yearbook named its annual “Outstanding Senior Leaders” during the SOAR ceremony. Students recognized include:

  • Christina Chu, international affairs and political science.
  • Landon Clark, biochemistry and molecular biology, genetics, and biology.
  • Zakiyya Ellington, accounting and Arabic.
  • Darya Khani, biology.
  • Carson Kuck, political science.
  • Grant Mitchell, public relations.
  • Miranda Moore, environmental engineering.
  • Tarun Ramesh, economics and genetics.
  • Kelly Strachan, political science.
  • Angela Tsao, computer science and cognitive science.

    Zakiyya Ellington, a senior from Allen, Texas, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Arabic, a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business analytics. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

This year, 110 nominations were judged by a panel of 20 faculty and staff members.

There are currently 765 registered student organizations on campus.

The awards are sponsored by Engagement, Leadership, and Service. For more information, see