4 students hanging out at the Illini Union outdoors on a warm day

James Scholar Honors Program

Challenge yourself to impact the future.

Award Winners for 2022-2023

Senior Research Award: Sofia Sanchez

Sofia Sanchez assisted with the Wheelchair Athlete Research Study for two years through the kinesiology department. She presented at the American College for Sports Medicine Convention in San Diego, CA, and became nationally published by the American College of Sports Medicine as a first author. Sofia also worked as a research intern in the summer of 2021 at the Body Composition and Nutritional Neuroscience Laboratory (BCNN). Here, she aided in a multitude of program studies with the aim of gaining more knowledge on how genetic, environmental, and food factors into brain function and overall body composition.

Senior Community Service Award: Valerie Abushevich

Valerie Abushevich is an exceptional James Scholar who has proven to make a positive impact on the CU area. Valerie’s has exemplified her dedication to the well-being, safety, and health of others. Prominently, Valerie conveys her outstanding contribution to the community by her recent initiative to bring back the American Red Cross Club to the UIUC campus. Valerie’s work with Red Cross representatives, UIUC faculty, and students enabled her to create a meaningful volunteer experience for students and community members alike. Her work in disaster relief, health, safety, and blood drives has directly impacted the health and well-being of individuals in, on, and around the CU metropolitan area.

Senior Leadership Award: Elena Hawkins

Elena Hawkins has demonstrated her leadership on campus through multiple ways. She is the president of Moda Bellissima, the first black modeling organization on campus, and co-hosted the 2023 Cotton Club Fashion Show. She was on the 2022 Homecoming Court and served as the on-site coordinator for the 2023 LeaderShape Retreat with the Illinois Leadership Center. As the financial secretary of the Alpha Nu chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she has contributed to their mission of public service and advocacy for the black community.

Mentor Award: Beth Frasca

Beth Frasca has been chosen as the 2023 AHS James Scholar Mentor of the year due to her dedication to her students. Not only does she make it a priority to act as a support system and a confident for her students, but she acts as an admirable role model. Despite the difficulties life has thrown at her, she has always maintained a positive attitude and set an example for her students through her grace in the midst of adversity. Beth deserves all of the honor that comes with this award due to her selflessness in guiding James Scholars through not only their Honors Projects, but also through their navigation of the entire college experience.