In 2012, the U’s Beacons of Excellence Award, through a partnership between the Office of Undergraduate Education and the Division
of Student Affairs, was introduced to recognize and celebrate the outstanding people,
programs, or projects who help make the university a Beacon of Excellence through
a commitment to providing an exceptional student education.
This year, the U has given a Beacons of Excellence Award to the REFUGES Afterschool and REFUGES Bridge Programs. Tino Nyawelo, associate professor (lecturer) of Physics & Astronomy, directs both REFUGES programs, and Jordan Gerton, associate professor of Physics & Astronomy and director of the Center for Science and Mathematics, administers them. The award is based on student nominations, with students describing both REFUGES programs as "an absolutely transformative educational experience."
More than a decade ago, Nyawelo and others in the South Sudanese community became
aware of refugee kids dropping out of school. With the help of others, Nyawelo started
an after-school program to help refugee kids with homework, expose them to math and
science, and help them attend college. This program eventually became the REFUGES
Afterschool and REFUGES Bridge Programs.
Please join us in congratulating Professors Nyawelo and Gerton.