On Friday, May 3, Dean of Students Jerry Price announced Chapman’s annual Campus Leadership Awards. Schmid College is proud to announce that Schmid seniors Mohamad Hijazi, Lorena Munoz, and Kevin Nguyen won university-wide awards. These standout seniors represent the academic breadth and excellence of Schmid College, and we look forward to following along in their future endeavors. 

Mohamad Hijazi:
Paul S. Delp Outstanding Service Award

The Paul S. Delp Award is bestowed upon the graduating senior judged to have made the greatest contribution of public service to the community at large.  This award is based upon the student’s entire record of service, addressing any number of economic, environmental, or social issues, during their college career.  A substantial commitment to a life of service as evidenced by documented activities that significantly benefit the greater good and serve as models to others is expected. 

Q: What does winning the Delp Award mean to you?

A: Winning the Paul S. Delp Outstanding Service Award is incredibly meaningful to me. It’s much more than a personal achievement; it’s a celebration of the amazing people I’ve met along the way. From the kids who’ve taught me resilience and joy, to community leaders who’ve shown me what we can accomplish together, I’ve been lucky to learn from each of them. This award is a reminder of what we can do when we come together and get involved. I hope this inspires more of us on campus to find what we’re passionate about and share it, especially with those who might not have access otherwise. This honor is a nod to everyone out there making a difference—it’s proof that our collective actions matter.

Q: Tell us about a service project that has been particularly meaningful to you. 

A: Although all of my service experiences have been incredibly meaningful, working with Higher Ground has been particularly impactful for me. The kids there often remind me of myself when I was younger—they might come from low-income families, be new to the country, or just haven’t yet found what excites them in school. Getting to do fun science experiments with them has been awesome. It’s more than just teaching; it’s about learning how to make complex ideas fun and relevant to their lives. It took some practice, but finding ways to connect science with their everyday experiences has been incredibly rewarding. Growing up, I was the same; I didn’t care much for school until someone showed me the cool things you can do with science. Being able to provide a similar spark for these young minds has been not just rewarding but transformative for me too.

Q: Which professor made the largest impact on you during your time at Schmid?

A: It’s really tough to pick just one professor because I’ve been lucky to have so many great ones at Schmid. But if I have to highlight the impact, Dr. Elaine Schwartz and Dr. Melissa Rowland-Goldsmith truly stand out. They’ve been more than just professors to me; they’ve been mentors, supporters, and friends. Coming into college, I didn’t have the strongest academic background—I even got a D in AP Bio! But working with them changed everything. They helped me build my confidence in the sciences and have guided me toward my goal of becoming a physician. They were always there, not just encouraging me academically but also supporting my various involvements and helping me apply for scholarships and programs. They really took the time to know me as a person, not just a student. I’m incredibly grateful for their guidance and support, and I know they’ll be lifelong mentors and friends.

Q: Any bucket list items you have yet to cross off before you leave campus?

A: One of the big items still on my bucket list is to teach the “SCI 320/420: STEM in Action” course during my gap years. I’ve been deeply involved with Higher Ground Youth and Family Center, working alongside Chapman students and faculty. This course blends STEM education with service learning, and it’s something I’ve been passionate about since I first learned about it. I’ve accumulated a lot of ideas from both current and past instructors, and I’m eager to apply these insights and share my own experiences. It’s a goal I’ve set for myself, and teaching this class would be a fulfilling way to spend my gap years, contributing further to a program I deeply care about.

Lorena Munoz:
Outstanding Diversity Leadership Award

The Outstanding Diversity Leadership Award is bestowed upon the graduating senior who has shown exemplary promotion of social justice, multicultural, and diversity and inclusion initiatives at Chapman.  This award is based upon the student’s accomplishments and efforts over the course of their college career.  A strong commitment to diversity, significant contributions to inclusive community building, and evidence of positive impact on the entire University community is expected. 

Q: What does winning the Diversity Leadership Award mean to you?

A: First and foremost, winning this award is a great honor. It reaffirms that the efforts made to increase my community’s visibility both on- and off-campus worked. 

Q: Which of your many extracurricular involvements would you say has had the greatest impact on you?

A: The most impactful extracurricular I have been involved in has definitely been participating in community science through the Socio-Ecological Adaptation and Climate Resilience Lab (SEACR Lab). Through the SEACR Lab, I was able to work with underrepresented communities through multilingual workshops that two other fellows and I hosted aimed at sharing information about how to mitigate the negative effects of climate change in our communities. 

 Q: Which professor made the largest impact on you during your time at Schmid?

A: Dr. Richelle Tanner and Dr. Elaine Schwartz have both been great mentors during my time here at Chapman. Dr. Tanner supported me through my research and beyond. Through Dr. Tanner, I learned the importance of doing science that gives back to the community and tackles disparities in academia. Through Dr. Schwartz, I learned to be confident in the contribution I make academically and communally. 

 Q: Any bucket list items you have yet to cross off before you leave campus? 

A: The only thing left now is to walk the stage during graduation and close this chapter of my life!

Kevin Nguyen:
Ronald M. Huntington Outstanding Scholarship Award

The Ronald M. Huntington Award is bestowed upon the graduating senior judged to have exhibited the most distinguished record of scholarly accomplishments while a student at Chapman University. Evidence of exemplary and meritorious scholarship well beyond normal classroom activities is expected. A nomination from a Chapman faculty member is required.

Q: What does winning the Huntington Award mean to you?

A: Winning this award is a way for me to properly convince myself that I am a competent student researcher after all this time at Chapman — it gives me confidence that I will be able to make it through my Ph.D. to become a full-fledged researcher, which is my dream career.

Q: What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned through your research?

A: The most important thing I learned was about what to prioritize in life. Although finishing the immediate given research project is important, it is arguably more important for me to take time to set myself up for future endeavors like applying for graduate school, going to networking events, and consolidating what I learn from my classes.

Q: Which professor made the largest impact on you during your time at Schmid?

A: Dr. Hagop Atamian — in terms of both extracurricular and academics. His Genetics class was very enjoyable, and the extra time he took to help us fully understand the content — rather than telling us what we need to memorize — made all the content easier to consolidate. This is a lesson I will take with me into my Ph.D. program as a way to approach teaching. His mentorship of my research has taught me so many lessons on how to conduct my research reproducibly and with integrity. These same lessons also shape how I interact with new information on a daily basis; I will not take anything for granted but employ reason and research to find the truth.

Q: Any bucket list items you have yet to cross off before you leave campus?

A: One bucket list item I have yet to cross off is combining my passion for 3D-printing with my passion for science and research!

Read more about the Campus Leadership Awards in Chapman News.