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Spring 2022 Alex Miller Outstanding University Scholar Award Winners Announced

The University Honors and Scholars Program has bestowed the 2022 Alex Miller Outstanding University Scholar award to Sydney Gyurek and Noor Shehata.

Noor Shehata and Sydney Gyurek
Noor Shehata and Sydney Gyurek

By Chester Miller

Each year, the staff of the University Honors and Scholars Program (UHSP) is honored to select a student to receive the Alex Miller Outstanding University Scholar award. The award is named after the former director of the University Scholars Program, Alex Miller, who led the program from its inception until his retirement in 2014.

The Alex Miller Outstanding University Scholar award recognizes a senior who best embodies the mission and spirit of the University Scholars Program. Someone, who in the wise words of Thomas Huxley, puts knowledge into action. Someone who has exhibited a significant commitment to the program, and most importantly, to its students. Someone who has had a real impact on the program and left it better.

In spring 2022, the UHSP is delighted to bestow this honor upon two special students: Sydney Gyurek and Noor Shehata.

Sydney Gyurek receives the Alex Miller Award from Cliff Parker
Sydney Gyurek receives the Alex Miller Award from Cliff Parker

At the University Scholars Program awards ceremony on May 3, Cliff Parker, UHSP Program Coordinator, reflected on Sydney’s contributions to the program. Parker specifically praised Gyurek for her work as a Scholars Forum assistant and ambassador for the UHSP. He also noted some of Gyurek’s achievements both inside and outside of the classroom as well as her work to organize outreach events like a World Book Day book exchange, origami and trivia nights, campus scavenger hunts and Pi Day activities. Additionally, Gyurek served on the executive board for the UHSP Council and played clarinet in the NC State Marching Band.

Our program is undeniably a better place because of Sydney, and she fully embraces and epitomizes our ideal for active and engaged citizenship,” Parker said. “She is a hardworking student with a kind heart and conscious mind, and applies her positive attitude and optimistic outlook to everything that she does. Sydney has proven herself to be an invaluable member of the UHSP.” 

Shehata was also recognized for her contribution to the UHSP community, its staff and campus partners. Anne Auten, assistant director of the UHSP, spoke highly of Noor’s engaging presence and her endurance through challenges.

Shehata receives the Alex Miller Award from Cliff Parker
Shehata receives the Alex Miller Award from Cliff Parker

“When Noor enters a room, the environment changes in a deeply palpable way,” Auten said. “At first, you can’t help but notice her luminous, disarming smile. And if you are lucky enough, you come to learn that her signature smile encompasses the entirety of Noor: her tenacious spirit, her generosity and her authenticity.

Auten first met Shehata as a first-year in her Honors seminar, Transgression and Transformation in Women’s Literature and called her a “once-in-a-career kind of student” who regularly makes incisive observations, engages others in meaningful conversation and challenges those around her to think more critically and empathetically. Auten also noted Shehata’s involvement in social justice initiatives, particularly her work as a mentor for the Civic Engagement Initiative and the Park Diversity Student Task Force, and as president of the American Justice Corps, an organization that works to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline through mentorship.

I mentioned that for me, as a teacher, Noor is a once-in-a-career kind of student,” Auten said. “She is more than that, though. She is a one-of-a-kind human being who radiates kindness and leaves a positive impact on everyone with whom she interacts. Noor is a consummate ‘Scholar’ who ‘puts knowledge into action’ with astonishing grace and maturity. It has been my great privilege over the past four years to enjoy her company, learn from her wisdom, and celebrate her myriad successes. Congratulations, Noor! We are all so proud of you.”

Shehata and Gyurek hold their Alex Miller Awards after the ceremony
Shehata and Gyurek after receiving the Alex Miller Award

Previous Alex Miller Outstanding Scholar Award Recipients include:

  • Fall 2021: Morgan Budzynski and Madison Horgan
  • 2021: Savannah Collins
  • 2020: Caleb Drum
  • 2018: Mitchell Moravec
  • 2017: Anna Leigh Shuping
  • 2016: Emily Nguyen
  • 2015: Kayleigh Jernigan
  • 2014: Alex Eubanks