Merrill P. Freeman Medals
Qualifications include outstanding moral force of character. Additional factors which may be considered are: popularity, receipt of athletic awards, membership in organizations, service on committees and as officers. This is a medal award.
Yezan Hassan, more fondly known as “iPod”, moved to the United States in 1998 as an Iraqi refugee. Moving often, he never considered any place home until he attended the University of Arizona. iPod is a quadruple major honors student graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Neuroscience/Cognitive Science and Molecular/Cellular Biology, a Bachelor of Science in Health Science (BSHS) in Physiology, and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Arabic with a minor in Biochemistry.
iPod was an Arabic Flagship Scholar, resident assistant in Arbol de la Vida, research assistant in Dr. Rajesh Khanna’s pharmacology lab, and a search committee member for the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications. In addition, iPod has been a member of the athletic community and Greek community as captain of the cheer team, a Peer Athletic Leader, a Fellowship of Christian Athletes member, and a founding father in the alpha class of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. Through opportunities at UA, Yezan has traveled to four continents acting as a medical brigade volunteer in Peru, a stroke wing intern in Sweden, and a study abroad student in Jordan and Morocco. He has played an instrumental role in building the UA’s culture of inclusivity and connecting the University and Tucson community.
iPod’s BS honors thesis is a literature review of the inhibitory pain role of the periaqueductal gray matter in phantom limb pain. His BSHS honors thesis is a literature review of the relationship between obesity and antinociception. This past year, iPod lived in Morocco studying Arabic, promoting youth sports, interning in a private surgical clinic, and completing a BA honors thesis that explores the impact of French imperialism on communication in an Arabic-speaking medical setting.
iPod is the recipient of the First Level Honors Award, Foreign Language Area Studies Scholarship, FIJI Black Diamond Award, Davinci Honors Award, and Physiology Senior Wildcat Award. He is a Galileo Circle scholar, Rho Alpha Sigma Honorary inductee, 2018 Honors Outstanding Senior, and 2017 Homecoming King.
After graduation, Yezan will be applying to medical school to become a neurosurgeon.
Katrina M. Konopka
Katrina M. Konopka will graduate from the Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. Originally from Greenville, South Carolina, Katrina has pursued a wide range of activities throughout her undergraduate career.
Katrina was recruited by the University of Arizona to compete in NCAA Division 1 swimming. As a member of the swim team, she is a three-time All-American honors, six-time All-American honorable mention, and three-time Scholar All-American. Katrina currently holds the school record in the 200 Medley Relay. Katrina has not only performed at the University level, but has competed on the international stage. Katrina represented Team USA at the FINA Short Course World Championships in 2016, where she earned two gold medals and set a world record in the 200 medley relay. Katrina also competed for the US at the 2017 World University Games, where she earned a gold and bronze medal.
Aside from her athletic accomplishments, Katrina joined Dr. Jeffrey Pyun’s polymer research group her sophomore year. Her research has focused on the synthesis of ultra-high refractive index polymers and their implementation into optical devices. She has been an author on three publications. As a researcher, Katrina has also served as a mentor for the Optical Sciences IOUNA and O-RETINAs programs, in which Native American students and teachers are exposed to research experience. Katrina is the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Outstanding Senior of the Year.
Katrina has had a wide impact on the community, most notably starting CATs Journey Journals in the athletic department. Journey Journals are decorated notebooks with letters of encouragement from student athletes, that are donated to hospitalized children, domestic abuse survivors and military families. Katrina has also been an instructor at various summer swim clinics, as well as judged multiple science fairs.
With her interest in chemistry, Katrina plans to pursue graduate school in chemistry with a focus on polymers and materials.