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2024 International Awards celebrate Buddhist chaplain, global health professor and women’s rights advocate

On Thursday, Feb. 29, Emory University’s Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives (GSI) hosted the International Awards at Convocation Hall. The event honored three remarkable members of the Emory community whose endeavors have significantly propelled the university’s global engagement efforts.

Each year, the International Awards recognize the exceptional contributions of an Emory faculty member, an international alumnus and a staff member who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to advancing Emory’s global mission and reputation. The ceremony provides a platform to celebrate their outstanding achievements and the impact they have made both within the university and on a global scale.

“For nearly 25 years, the International Awards have honored individuals who have significantly shaped our university’s global footprint,” says Philip Wainwright, vice provost of GSI. “As a renowned institution with a significant presence on the global stage, it is vital to recognize the diverse endeavors of those who contribute to Emory’s international accomplishments.”

This year’s recipients are:

  • Solveig Argeseanu Cunningham, Marion V. Creekmore Award for Internationalization (Rollins School of Public Health)
  • Faizat Badmus-Busari 20L, Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award (Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa [SIHA] Network)
  • The Venerable Priya Rakkhit Sraman, International Outreach Award (Office of Spiritual and Religious Life)

Creekmore Award for Internationalization

Solveig Argeseanu Cunningham is a professor of global health in the Rollins School of Public Health, with affiliated appointments in the Division of Nutrition, the Department of Sociology and the Department of Epidemiology. She is renowned for her research on obesity and diabetes, chronic diseases and the implications of early life exposure for long-term health. Her work spans the U.S., India, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Europe, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methods for data collection and analysis.

Cunningham’s research, featured in esteemed publications such as the New England Journal of Medicine and American Journal of Public Health, garners widespread acclaim. She has received several accolades, including the 2015 Pfizer Young Investigators Award for Distinguished Research from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. Her work resonates beyond academia, drawing attention from prominent media outlets like The New York Times, USA Today, NPR and NBC Nightly News. She actively helps shape policy dialogues, demonstrated by her contribution to the American College of Endocrinology Consensus Statement on Obesity.

Colleagues and collaborators worldwide have praised Cunningham for her intellect, humility and dedication to improving health outcomes globally. Their testimonials underscore her exceptional qualities as a scholar, mentor and global health advocate.

As noted in her nomination letter, “Solveig’s ability to understand and appreciate all cultures and contexts, without judgment, places her in a unique place among international scholars. Solveig brings incredible humanity to all she does.”

Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award

Faizat Badmus-Busari 20L is a distinguished legal scholar and advocate dedicated to advancing women's rights and social justice in the Horn of Africa. Serving as the head of programmes for the SIHA Network, she orchestrates a diverse array of initiatives aimed at empowering women and championing gender equality throughout the region.

With a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) from Emory’s School of Law, Badmus-Busari’s academic pursuits have centered on the intricate intersections of gender, law, religion and social justice. Her scholarly endeavors and activism are grounded in an intersectional approach, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of women’s experiences within the complex frameworks of religion and culture.

Driven by a steadfast belief in the transformative power of collective action and feminist principles, Badmus-Busari exemplifies a fervent commitment to effecting meaningful change. She has spearheaded initiatives addressing human rights, gender equity and community development. She also has been instrumental in cultivating strategic alliances and advocating for policy reforms that uphold the rights and well-being of women and girls.

While accepting her award she said, “I am reminded of the countless women and girls I have had the privilege to work with, the tireless activists fighting for justice and the vision of a more equitable world we all share. This accolade is not solely mine but belongs to every individual who dares to dream of and work toward a better tomorrow.”

International Outreach Award

The Venerable Priya Sraman, appointed as Emory’s Buddhist chaplain in 2021, plays a pivotal role in nurturing the spiritual well-being of the campus community. He collaborates with Emory’s multifaith chaplaincy team to cater to the evolving needs of the diverse Buddhist and mindfulness communities on campus.

Venerable Priya facilitates weekly spiritual gatherings, fosters educational opportunities, extends pastoral care and advocates for service, social justice and interfaith engagement within the Emory community and beyond. His dedication to promoting spiritual growth and community engagement has profoundly enriched the Emory campus experience.

“Having spent 14 years as an international student in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Hong Kong and the U.S., I arrived at Emory wanting to create spaces where students could feel at ease, foster friendships and embrace new learning opportunities,” he says. “This endeavor felt especially relevant because of the university’s diverse, international community.”

An ordained monk in the Theravada School of Buddhism, Venerable Priya has immersed himself in Buddhist communities across Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Hong Kong, Myanmar and China. His academic journey includes earning a master’s of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School with a focus on Buddhist ministry and a master’s of Buddhist studies from the University of Hong Kong.

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