Distinguished Graduate Award

The Distinguished Graduate Award recognizes an exceptional alumnus who embodies the university's mission within personal and professional efforts.

To be considered for this award, you should:

  • Provide evidence of regular and/or sustained service to the university
  • Provide evidence of regular and/or sustained service to the community/society
  • Provide evidence of a significant impact on the profession and/or community in which the individual has been active
  • Provide an inspirational example to all graduates
  • Accomplishments should be achieved over the lifetime of the graduate and should be ongoing
  • Nominees may be self-nominated, nominated by another graduate, a member of the faculty or staff, or another person outside the university who knows the nominee and the university well
  • Nominees will be notified of their nomination and encouraged to apply for the award
  • The award may, but will not necessarily, be awarded annually

All materials are to be submitted in one complete packet on the award nomination form. Late or incomplete submissions will not be considered.

  • One letter of recommendation from a faculty member or supervisor who knows you well. The letter should specifically address how you meet the requirements for the award. You may want to give your recommendation writer a brief summary of the award
  • An original essay of no more than 1,000 words that outlines why you are an exceptional candidate for the award including concrete examples of how you meet each of the requirements for this award. Your essay should answer questions such as:
    • In what ways have your achievements been truly extraordinary?
    • How have you showed interest in supporting a lifetime of military or public service?
    • In what ways have you promoted and encouraged continuous learning?
  • Evidence that you received state or national recognition for significant achievements in your chosen field and an additional letter of support/recommendation
  • Your current professional resume
  • Additional information such as news articles, recognition awards, and volunteer service that supports the nominations are encouraged, but not required
  • Award recipients will be honored during Commencement weekend, and should we have an in-person celebration, one-night accommodations and individual travel expenses to attend Commencement will be paid for by the University
  • Award recipients receive a crystal trophy
  • Award recipients are not required to attend Commencement to accept the award

Distinguished Graduate Award Recipient

Lark Escobar

Lark Escobar graduated summa cum laude from AMU in February 2018. She holds a bachelor’s degree (her fourth degree) in Middle Eastern studies with a GPA of 3.98.  In one of her AMU courses, Sociology of Religion, she completed field studies that took her from the United Arab Emirates to Armenia and India. These field studies cemented her interest in genocide prevention, cultural memory, religious heritage, human rights, international law, terrorism studies, and human security in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia. 

Lark has taught in higher education environments in seven countries. During her career, she created and implemented an American English and Culture degree at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan where she was an academic, gender, and culture advisor. Lark has headed the English department for NATO headquarters and also designed and conducted university faculty professional development and secondary educator training throughout the Middle East.  

She earned a master’s in law and diplomacy at the Fletcher School at Tufts University (her 6th degree). During that degree program, she focused on international law, gender, comparative Islamic civilization and human security studies.  

Lark's free time is invested in volunteering. She is active in a variety of volunteer capacities, ranging from serving as a DoD cultural liaison to curating open-source intelligence content and supporting medical aid in Ukraine as part of the Ukraine Non-Governmental Organization Network (UNCN).  

Her most notable work is her service as an Afghan evacuation coordinator in the non-combatant evacuation operation in the AfghanEvac/Digital Dunkirk movement. Her student and teacher volunteers have registered over 700 Afghan evacuees for DoD vetting in addition to providing safe houses, food, and medical aid to Afghan allies in hiding. That work has consumed over 4,800 hours in service of those allies and their families left behind in Afghanistan.

The deadline for the 2024 award nominations is January 26, 2024.   For additional information or questions, contact the University Awards Committee.