2016 Centennial Achievement Undergraduate Awards

In December 1984, the University of Arizona Division of Student Affairs created the Centennial Achievement Award to be presented annually. This award is given to two seniors graduating during the current academic year.

Daniel Carrera

Daniel Carrera grew up in Glendale, Arizona and will be graduating spring of 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science and a minor in Biochemistry.

Daniel’s greatest challenges to obtaining a college degree stem from the struggles of his home life. Daniel’s mother, his greatest inspiration, immigrated to the United States from Mexico before Daniel was born. She arrived with no more than a half-completed high school degree and spoke almost no English. She worked in construction and other minimum wage jobs to meet essential living needs. When Daniel was five years old, his mother became ill and endured chemotherapy treatments and a bone marrow transplant. In addition, at the age of seven, the man Daniel loved as his father passed away after battling lung cancer. Between growing up fatherless and struggling to manage his mother’s illness, Daniel’s childhood conditioned him to confront seemingly insurmountable obstacles from an early age.

These struggles fueled Daniel’s motivations to succeed, to make his mother proud, and mirror her incredible work ethic in his daily life. As a first generation college student, Daniel maintains a strong GPA while being involved in research and community service, as well as preserving his love for music. Daniel is a trainee in the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, which allows him to explore his many research interests ranging from electrophysiology to computational neuroscience. He has presented his research at poster conferences across the nation. Daniel also spends his free time singing to veterans and the elderly through Phi Mu Alpha—the university’s music fraternity—and volunteering at St. Mary’s Hospital in the post anesthetic care unit.

Daniel’s long-term goals include completing a dual M.D./Ph.D. program, focusing his research on systems neuroscience. Beyond that, he seeks to pursue his passion for teaching and mentoring students and eventually becoming a university professor. He hopes to advocate for those who seek and desire what his mother could never obtain.

Katelyn Kennon

Katelyn Kennon will graduate from the Honors College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing, along with a Thematic minor in Reporting on Human Rights. She is a Southwestern Foundation Scholar and a UROC-PREP Scholar. Katelyn grew up in a working-class, rural Ohio town and is a first-generation college student.

Katelyn is a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. These experiences, and the similar experiences of her peers and loved ones, spurred her early interest in researching and combatting violence. On campus, she worked with SPEAC (Students Promoting Empowerment and Consent), the only UA student group focused on issues of gender-based violence, and was a founding member of Hollaback! Tucson, which gave space to stories of street harassment. She has helped to organize multiple campus-wide Take Back the Night events, co-authored work on acquaintance rape with Dr. Mary Koss, designed her own research study on Title IX and university student codes of conduct, and acted as a student influencer for RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). Most recently, Katelyn has begun work as a crisis advocate for the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault.

Recognizing that violence affects many marginalized groups of people, Katelyn has also spent time volunteering for various organizations that focus on migrants’ rights, women’s homelessness, and hospice care.  

Katelyn is proud to have supported herself throughout her undergraduate years by working as an emergency room scribe, a research assistant in the Schools of Sociology and Psychology, and in multiple positions at The Daily Wildcat.

After graduation, Katelyn will pursue her PhD in Social Work, implementing and evaluating programs that provide a wider, more responsive range of justice options to survivors of sexual violence. She will continue fighting for Title IX and for the students it protects.

Katelyn dedicates this award to all survivors engaged in similar struggles for dignity, peace, and justice.