Congratulations to three students in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences who have received a 2023 Centennial Achievement Award.
This year’s SBS honorees are Grayson Agrella, triple major in anthropology, art history and French, who aspires to pursue graduate studies in queer anthropology and continue advocating for that community; Emily Wright, a double major in journalism and religious studies who serves in the community and will undertake graduate studies in religion, gender, sexuality, and ecology; and Hyeonchang "Kay" Gim, a communication Ph.D. student with a minor in computational studies, who researches the importance of effective communication and plans to be a professor.
Centennial Achievement Awards are presented to undergraduate students who demonstrate integrity, and persistence and contribute to their community. The awards are also given to graduate students in recognition of their outstanding achievements and perseverance in overcoming obstacles. The awards are presented by the Division of Student Affairs and the Graduate College.
Below are student profiles from the Dean of Students Office:
2023 Centennial Achievement Undergraduate Awardees
Grayson Agrella (he/him) is currently completing majors in Anthropology, Art History, and French with a Language, Literature, and Culture emphasis. He will graduate summa cum laude with honors in spring of 2024.
Grayson was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, and grappled with institutional and personal obstacles in pursuit of his degrees. He is engaged with the queer and artistic scenes around town, and has worked with trans and gender-expansive youth. He has also served as an editor for a local literary magazine, processed US passport applications, and currently works in the archives department of the Center for Creative Photography on campus. He regularly engages with mutual aid efforts, including those benefiting the unhoused community and other social justice causes in which he believes.
His research interests center around the gender non-conforming community. He aims to diversify the visible narratives around transgender people and their experiences. His current projects include an investigation of transgender art and the politics of visibility, as well as an analysis of conversations in media about transness and detransitioners. Intersectionality, including the disparity in transgender experiences across race and socioeconomic lines, drives all of his research and projects. This reflects both his personal experience and the anthropological imperative to understand his own privileges.
Grayson is a National Merit Finalist, and has made the Dean’s list with distinction, as well as Academic Year with Highest Distinction, numerous times in his university career. He plans on pursuing graduate studies in queer anthropology, while engaging with the needs of local trans and gender expansive cohorts. He would like to thank his communities, as well as all the individuals that have encountered the same barriers without recognition, for making his education possible and worthwhile.
Emily Wright is graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and religious studies with honors and a minor in American Sign Language.
She grew up in Gilbert, Arizona where she observed a pious population from up close and became consumed by learning about people’s belief systems and the institutions that house them. This, combined with Emily’s continued interest in writing and activism, spawned her love for journalism.
After losing her mother to cancer in 2021, Emily deferred a semester for bereavement. She returned thereafter, continuing to show up for herself and the community she’d found at the university. She has worked as a teaching assistant in photojournalism; served as Outreach Coordinator and a counselor with Bear Down Camp; been involved with the local Deaf community; interned for Defend Our Future— a nonprofit that lobbied for clean energy at a federal level; and sat on the Five-Star Faculty Award Committee. Emily was a member of Freshman Class Council, for which she returned as co-director to mentor a new group of forty freshmen. She has volunteered her time as an ambassador for the W.A. Franke Honors College and at the UAZ Campus Pantry.
Emily had the opportunity to study in Orvieto, Italy thanks to the generosity of the Donna Swaim International Award for Religious Studies, SILLC Global Award, Honors Study Abroad Funding, and the Arizona in Orvieto Classics Award. She completed her Honors Thesis under the supervision of the Religious Studies department, Dianic Wicca— Spiritual Yearning for a Matriarchal Past, Trans-exclusionary Radical Feminism, and Worshiping Gender.
Emily has been awarded Dean’s List with Distinction recognitions, a Drew Gyorke Memorial Photojournalism Contest Finalist, was selected for the Finley Best Beginning News Writing Competition, and won the Arizona in Italy Summer 2023 Video Contest.
Following her graduation, Emily is pursuing graduate studies in Religion, Gender, Sexuality, and Ecology. Simultaneously, she plans to continue long-form feature writing and photojournalism.
2023 Centennial Achievement Doctorate Degree Awardee
Hyeonchang "Kay" Gim is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Arizona earning his Ph.D. in Communication and Ph.D. minor in Computational Linguistics. Growing up in South Korea, he initially believed that higher education was beyond his reach due to the lack of educational role models in his family. However, during his military service, he came to understand the critical importance of effective communication, which inspired him to pursue higher education as a first-generation college student.
Throughout his academic journey, Kay has dedicated himself to fostering harmonious relationships between people from diverse social backgrounds, such as different racial and cultural groups. With this objective, he has published seven research articles in various communication journals. His work has been recognized with multiple Top Paper awards at the National Communication Association and International Communication Association. Kay has also received numerous fellowships and grants from sources such as the UA Foundation, UAZ Graduate & Professional Student Council, UAZ Department of Communication, and International Communication Association.
Echoing his research efforts, Kay is committed to creating inclusive and engaging learning environments as an educator. He has completed training through the UAZ College Teaching Certificate Program and actively participates in Project FOCUS, a teaching program tailored to neurodiverse students. Furthermore, he holds a leadership role as the chair of the DEI committee within his department, and serves as a DEI council member for the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, where he contributes to the university-wide mission of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion values. Outside of the university, Kay volunteers for various community-based projects. This includes hosting lecture series and music performances for older adults, that primarily focus on how music can foster harmonious community relationships. As the early scholar representative for the International Communication Association, he ensures that the voices of early scholars are recognized and heard within the academic community.
After graduating from the University of Arizona, Kay aims to continue his holistic approach to making a positive impact on society through research, teaching, and service as a professor of Communication.