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A&S Student Receives Lewis Honors College Award

By Meghan Arrell

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 11, 2021) — In June, the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College held its Spring 2021 Medal Ceremony in two physically distant ceremonies in the Gatton Student Center. As is tradition, all of the Lewis Honors College graduation awards were announced at the ceremony.

The Evans Scholar Award is given to a senior majoring in humanities or a related field. The 2021 finalists were Nicole Blackstone, Michael Di Girolamo, Kristen Karem, Michaela Lansdale, Chelsea Russell, Kayla Stroud and Anna Wagner. The winner was Michael Di Girolamo. 

Di Girolamo double majored in foreign language and international economics with a focus in Chinese and international studies, with a concentration on comparative politics and societies. He also minored in Italian and Spanish. Michael was a Chellgren Fellow and co-founded two student organizations, one for Chinese and one for Korean language and culture. Di Girolamo plans to attend graduate school to study international relations and hopes to spend a year teaching English abroad prior to entering his graduate program.

“Michael spearheaded the introduction of Korean language instruction at the University of Kentucky," said  Liang Luo, associate professor of Chinese Studies in the College of Arts &Sciences. "With his leadership and with the help of Korean faculty and community members, I was able to secure a Korea Foundation Grant to seed a lecturer position, hence introducing Korean language formally to students at the University of Kentucky starting Fall 2019," Luo said in his recommendation for Di Girolamo. "Michael has consistently maintained academic excellence and a strong leadership record during his studies and service at the University of Kentucky. His broad interests in at least four foreign languages (Chinese, Korean, Italian and Spanish) in both social sciences and humanities prepared him well for a promising career in diplomacy and international relations."

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.