Honoring outstanding graduates in unprecedented times
During a virtual celebration on May 23, 2021, the INI recognized five members of its graduating class for excellence in leadership, community spirit and service.
By Deana Lorenzo
“If there is one word that captures my MS31 Class—it’s resilience.”
On May 23, 2021, INI Director Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis kicked off the INI’s virtual celebration, which recognized our 140 newest graduates from around the world.
In her remarks to the graduating class, Dr. Haritos Tsamitis acknowledged the challenges posed by the global pandemic that this class has faced along the way. And yet, they rose to the occasion time and time again with remarkable creativity and perseverance, finding meaningful ways to engage in coursework and research while staying connected with each other, even from across different time zones.
Although the virtual event looked quite different from our usual in-person diploma ceremony, it featured several time-honored traditions, including a keynote address by INI alumnus Amit Zavery and the presentation of the annual Student Awards, honoring members of the graduating class who went above and beyond to support the incredible community that the INI is known for.
From an outstanding group of nominees, five INI students received awards this year for their exceptional contributions to our community, during what was an unpredictable and uniquely challenging graduate school experience.
Meet the Awardees
- GOINI President
- PicoCTF Problem Development Lead
Nominated by: Hanan Hibshi, INI Research & Teaching Scientist; Maverick Woo, CyLab Systems Scientist; and Luke Jones, picoCTF Education Lead
INI Leadership Award
The INI Leadership Award goes to an INI graduate student who has most noticeably demonstrated initiative, motivation, academic excellence and overall outstanding leadership qualities.
This year's award recipient is John Johnson. Here's what his nominator Prof. Hanan Hibshi had to say:
“John is an exceptional, outstanding leader…He is calm, focused, determined, organized, and a problem solver with high attention to details. When faced with obstacles, John searches and executes solutions rather than halting and waiting for further guidance. John was the go-to person—when TAs are facing unseal issues with the CTF teaching server or with picoCTF problems, they reach out to John. And when students have community or CMU related questions, they also think of John first.”
“When faced with obstacles, John searches and executes solutions rather than halting and waiting for further guidance."
- Graduate Teaching Assistant
- Student Mentor & Admissions Volunteer
Nominated by: Aleecia M. McDonald, INI Assistant Professor of the Practice
Innocent Habiyaremye Memorial Award
The Innocent Habiyaremye Memorial Award is presented to a student who embodies a sense of community spirit, while holding to their academic and professional commitments. INI established this fellowship in memory of an alumnus, who passed away much too young, but who inspired the people around him through his kindness and volunteer activities.
This year's award recipient is Vikramraj Sitpal. Here's what his nominator Prof. Aleecia McDonald had to say:
“What sets Vikram apart is his kindness and caring for others. While going through so much himself, he mentors incoming students and is regularly a guest on Jennifer's calls for admitted MSINs…Vikram continues to help while India battles the pandemic, and along with his family, sponsors school lunches for four students. His future plans include tutoring students for standardized tests—not for payment, but for contributions to NGOs in India.”
“What sets Vikram apart is his kindness and caring for others."
- Research Assistant - Spring 2021
Nominated by: Carlee Joe-Wong, Robert E. Doherty Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Outstanding Student Services Award - Research Assistant
This award recognizes an INI student who has demonstrated exemplary performance and contribution as a Research Assistant.
This year's award recipient is Prashanth Mogali. Here's what his nominator Prof. Carlee Joe-Wong had to say:
"Prashanth has been extraordinarily creative and self-sufficient, requiring minimal guidance in designing a new matching and scheduling algorithm, and developing the mobile application. He immediately created a vision for how he wanted to implement the project tasks, consistently found ways around problems that he encountered, and designed thorough test cases for his work."
“He immediately created a vision for how he wanted to implement the project tasks, consistently found ways around problems...and designed thorough test cases for his work."
Abhilasha Kalkunte Ramaswamy, Xinhao Zhou and Vikramraj Sitpal
- Teaching Assistants - 14-736 Distributed Systems: Techniques, Infrastructure, and Services
Nominated by: Patrick Tague, INI Associate Teaching Professor
Outstanding Student Services Award - Teaching Assistant
This award recognizes an INI student who has demonstrated exemplary performance and contribution as a Teaching Assistant.
This year's award recipients were nominated as a team: Abhilasha Kalkunte Ramaswamy, Xinhao Zhou and Vikramraj Sitpal. Here's what their nominator Prof. Patrick Tague had to say:
"Xinhao, Abhilasha, and Vikramraj are truly a dynamic team with serious expertise and dedication to improving the quality of education and student experience at the INI.[…] Having such an outstanding team of experienced and professional TAs really smoothed out my own learning curve and directly contributed to what was (hopefully) a positive learning and working experience in the end.[...] They didn’t just help the students; they worked with the students in a way that allowed for discovery and learning. This is, of course, what all educators should strive for, but I was impressed by the extent to which this particular team embodied that ideal."
“They didn’t just help the students; they worked with the students in a way that allowed for discovery and learning."