Tulane Home Tulane Shield logo linking to site home page

2021 Nkechi "NK" Mbaebie International Student Award Awardees

May 19, 2021 2:30 PM
Office of International Students and Scholars oiss@tulane.edu

It is our pleasure to announce the winners of the Nkechi "NK" Mbaebie International Student Award! This award was recently created to recognize and celebrate the outstanding contributions and achievements made by international students at Tulane University and in the community as a whole. These students along with the nominees will be recognized during the 2021 International Education Week in the Fall, and will also be receiving a cash award.

Meet the awardees:

Dr. Shaymaa Abdalal
Graduate Awardee

Dr. Abdalal completed her PhD in Tropical Medicine this spring.  Of note is that Dr. Abdalal participated twice in the Changemaker Institute accelerator program in the Taylor Center and as a result, launched a venture, Pass Dat Joy.  An advisor for the Taylor Center reflected on the following:

"Then, when COVID-19 hit, Shaymaa fueled her love for children into a new venture, Pass Dat Joy, in an effort to provide creativity, joy, and community support in the wake of the COVID-19 global crisis. In a few short months, Shaymaa and her team created and distributed over 300 family art toolkits and resource packets to resource-insecure families via a school feeding site and pantry delivery service operated by Homer A. Plessy School in New Orleans. Shaymaa not only supported families in this process, but also employed local artists to create materials for the toolkits, which were designed to alleviate some of the stress facing families by pairing creative materials for children alongside informational materials for parents. You can view a video about the project here."


Cunkai "Leo" Zhu
Undergraduate Awardee

Leo Zhu is entering his last year in the Bachelor of Science in Management program.  Mr. Zhu has been in leadership in the International Student Advisory Board and in the Tulane Chinese Students and Scholars Association during his time at Tulane.  A staff member in the A.B. Freeman School of Business shared the following:

“Leo originally reached out to me with the idea of creating online networking sessions connecting Chinese Students with Chinese alumni around the world. His vision was to allow students to talk to alums from China who were working in the United States and then to a second group of alums working in China. This was the first time for such an undertaking and Leo was very resourceful in identifying and engaging the alumni panelists and in assisting the CMC in promoting the events [...]."

Later that year, Leo supported a recruitment event in Beijing where over 100 students and 30 alumni attended. The event was extremely well received by students as they met Freeman alums living and working in Beijing.


Honorable Mention

  • Kyaw Zin "Kennis" Htet
  • Aim Niamnud
  • Momi Sagoe
  • Siyuan "Mary" Xing
  • Yinan Zhao

Thank you to all of the nominees and to the faculty and staff who sponsored their nominations.  What a phenomenal group of international students.  

This award is administered by the Office of International Students and scholars, and was inspired by Nkechi "NK" Mbaebie, an inspirational Tulane University Student. Learn more about her story here.