December 18, 2018 – Lawrence Huang and Susu Zhao, both seniors in the College, have received the annual Chester Gillis Award for exemplifying the value of a liberal arts education in the Jesuit tradition.
“Lawrence and Susu are living out the Jesuit values rather than just writing about them,” says Jacqueline Crispino (C’19), president of the College Academic Council, which presents the awards. “All of their activities connect with their academic goals in a way that shows their genuine passion.”
Huang, a government major from Sydney, Australia, who interned at the local think tank, Hudson Institute, is working on his honors thesis examining Hannah Arendt’s political theories as they relate to refugees, border policy and migration.
The senior also has organized on behalf of candidates and causes that promote immigrants’ rights.
“My advocacy sparked my interest in building responsibilities across borders, and now my research is building those responsibilities as necessary to making rights claims,” Huang says.
He hopes to pursue a career in academia after graduation in which immigration research and activism plays a strong role.
Justice and Peace Studies
Zhao, of Honolulu, Hawaii, is majoring in justice and peace studies with minors in disability studies and Chinese.
She says her desire to pursue law school developed while taking a course with Randall Amster, who co-directs the Justice and Peace Program.
“Introduction to Justice and Peace Studies further fueled my existing passion for civil rights and provided the opportunity to examine my interests in activism, the United States judicial system and criminal justice reform through an academic lens,” Zhao explains.
Role of Jesuit Education
Zhao combined her interests in legal studies and Chinese while studying abroad in Beijing this past summer.
“This opportunity paired an immersive environment, conducive to advanced language learning, with wholly unfamiliar societal context and surroundings,” says Zhao, who interned with the DC-based Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project. “It allowed me to learn more about the differences between the American and Chinese legal systems and variations in civil rights norms, perceptions and legislation.”
Both Huang and Zhao emphasized the role Jesuit education has played in shaping their lives since arriving on the Hilltop.
“The emphasis upon a well-rounded liberal arts education, aligning with the mission of cura personalis (care of the whole person), has given me the opportunity to delve into diverse course offerings … in search of the academic disciplines that I find most stimulating,” she says.