Robert Logan Nugent Award
Candidates should have a record of accomplishments that exemplify the high ideals of Dr. Nugent, such as active and enthusiastic participation and service in community and University endeavors.
Lily Keane Chavez is graduating magna cum laude from the Honors College with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and global studies. As an Arizona Assurance scholar from Phoenix, Lily has committed her undergraduate career to promoting international education and global awareness through exemplifying the essence of service to the University, the Tucson community, and underrepresented populations abroad.
During the summer of her sophomore year, Lily received the Arizona in the French Caribbean Scholarship to study accelerated French in Forte-de-France, Martinique. This initial intercultural experience intensified her passion to learn more about the world around her and the diverse communities that inhabit it.
Upon return to the United States, Lily served as a UA Global Ambassador. Through this leadership position, Lily helped bridge cultures between domestic and international students. In the spring of 2019, Lily received the University of Arizona Study Abroad Explore Scholarship to study French and international affairs at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. While abroad, Lily volunteered with the Sciences Po Refugee Help group, providing material, social and legal aid to newly resettled refugees.
As a senior, Lily served as a Family and Youth Support and Cultural Orientation intern at the Tucson-based International Rescue Committee. Additionally, she engaged in a semester-long social media enhancement project for Iskashitaa Refugee Network. Lily is also engaged with the University’s Refugee Project, where she builds on existing intercultural competency skills. This past November, Lily was honored to receive the UA Student Award for Global Excellence.
Currently, Lily is serving as a civil rights, communications and social movements research assistant under the advisement of Professor Thomas P. Miller. Lily has also been a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority, Arizona Model United Nations, Phi Beta Kappa honors society and Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity.
Upon graduation, Lily intends to conduct research for a nongovernmental organization dedicated to gender equality and international education reform. In the following year, Lily plans to continue her education in the field of international human rights law.
Meucci Watchman Ilunga, a member of the Deer Spring and Red Running Into the Water clans, is graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry. Meucci is from the Kinłichíí (Kinlichee) community, a small village in northern Arizona and one of the Navajo Nation’s 110 chapters. Drawing from the experiences of his mother, a former sheepherder, and his father, an immigrant from central Africa, Meucci has longed hope to live up to the example of service that both his parents set for him.
Meucci has been a volunteer peer mentor for Native American students at Carrillo Magnet School, and a dog-walker and kitten-socializer at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. At the University, Meucci devoted time to the Department of Astronomy’s MESCIT (Mentorship and Education in Science for Tucson) tutoring program, served as a departmental ambassador for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and led efforts within his tribe to revitalize his culture through new technologies, such as machine learning and geographic information system technologies.
In addition to being committed to service, Meucci is an avid student of the biological sciences. He first started doing research in the lab of Christina Laukaitis and Robert Karn in the University of Arizona Cancer Center, then later in the lab of Michael D.L. Johnson in the Department of Immunobiology under the National Institutes of Health Maximizing Access to Research Careers program. Additionally, Meucci spent a summer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying computational protein techniques in the lab of Amy Keating.
Meucci has received many awards during his time at the University of Arizona. These distinctions include earning the Navajo Nation’s prestigious Chief Manuelito scholarship for academic excellence, the Wildcat Excellence Award, and the American Indian College Fund’s Full Circle Scholarship.
Upon graduation, Meucci plans to pursue a doctorate in the field of synthetic biology, hopefully managing to bring the Diné (Navajo) idea of "Hozhó" (Diné wellness philosophy) along with him.