Hassan Farah
Hassan Farah

6 Students Receive Centennial Achievement Awards

The awards honor UA students who have overcome obstacles and made significant contributions to their community while earning their degrees.
Dec. 18, 2017
Moira Hamilton
Moira Hamilton
Graciela Jauregui
Graciela Jauregui
Rebecca Renee Renteria
Rebecca Renee Renteria
Ariana Stickel
Ariana Stickel
Roman Palitsky
Roman Palitsky

The Centennial Achievement Awards, created in 1984, annually are presented to six University of Arizona students who have demonstrated integrity, determination and commitment in improving themselves, their families and their communities. The students have completed groundbreaking research to aid underserved and underrepresented communities, founded nonprofits, given many hours of public service and earned advanced degrees in the face of adversity.

Here are the 2017 Centennial Achievement Award recipients:

Hassan Farah
B.S., Physiology

Farah is a Tucson native and first-generation Somali immigrant. During his years at the UA, he learned that the desire to find a home on campus is shared by many students. His growing leadership activities focused on helping marginalized, low-income and first-generation students discover there is a place for them at the UA.

As an Arizona Science, Engineering and Math Scholar, Farah has mentored low-income, first-generation STEM students; as a UA Black Alumni Scholar, he has participated in community service and campus events. He has presented research at national conferences as a Minority Health Disparities-Undergraduate Research Opportunity Consortium Scholar. He has created new ways to engage black students across campus as president of the Elgie M. Batteau Honors Society and the Black Student Union.

Recently, Farah worked to secure $600,000 in permanent funding to the Cultural and Resource Centers. As a Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities Scholar, he has received federal funding for his research on developmental nicotine exposure and its impact on the neurorespiratory system. He will continue his research and pursue doctoral degrees in physical therapy and rehabilitation science.

Moira Hamilton
B.F.A., Studio Art, and B.A., Latin American Studies

Hamilton was born in Scotland, but she spent her teenage years in Phoenix, Arizona. She has a passion for education and community service. A foster mother for the State of Arizona, she has adopted three children, who have taught her the importance of education and the necessity to provide students with the tools to achieve their dreams.

Through her internship with the Spanish and Portuguese department, Hamilton founded the nonprofit ¡Servicio! to aid and inspire local youth to seek a college education, and she created the We Read Literacy Program, which teaches people of all ages to read. In addition to her nonprofits, she serves as president of the UA's Golden Key International Honors Society.

An All-Arizona Academic Team Scholar and Trico Cooperative Scholar, Hamilton has been honored with scholarships from the Daugherty Foundation and the Laura and Arch Brown Foundation, and she has received the Golden Key International Honor Society Outstanding Leader Award. She plans to pursue a doctorate in Educational Excellence and Leadership. She aspires to work with government agencies to make educational opportunities equitable across the nation.

Graciela Jauregui
M.P.H., Public Health Policy & Management
and M.S., Mexican American Studies

Jauregui grew up in San Luis, Arizona. She was the first in her family to complete high school and attend a four-year university. In 2013, she received bachelors' degrees in public health and Spanish. Her early experiences growing up in a rural border town and serving as an untrained interpreter between physicians and her family made her aware of the cultural and language challenges in the U.S. and instilled in her the desire to become a service provider.

Jauregui has conducted research along the U.S.-Mexico border and completed her thesis on "Access to Healthcare for Undocumented Immigrant Detainees in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Centers." At the annual UA Public Health Research Poster Forum, she was awarded first place for her community engagement project in Winchester Heights, Arizona. She is currently completing an internship with the Office of Border Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

An administrative assistant at Banner – UMC Tucson, she also has volunteered with Clinica Amistad, No More Deaths and the Flying Samaritans. She hopes to attend medical school and serve underprivileged populations throughout Arizona.

Rebecca Renee Renteria
M.A., Anthropology

Renteria graduated as a first-generation college student with a bachelor's in anthropology in 2015. Growing up on Tucson's south side influenced her desire to work with Tucson's underserved and underrepresented communities.

A strong advocate for diversity within the sciences, she has been actively involved with the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. She has served as an EarthWeek committee member, a teaching assistant for anthropology and geosciences classes, a coordinator for the lab's summer school courses and a co-instructor of record for the dendroarchaeology course.

Renteria also has been the program coordinator for Linking Southwestern Heritage Through Archaeology, a program that provides opportunities for local students to visit sites that connect them to their cultural history. Her master's research focused on late 19th and early 20th century homesteading families with Native, Mexican and Anglo-American histories. Her research and community work have shaped her interest in understanding Xicanx identities as they have changed over time. She hopes to pursue a doctorate in this area, and to continue her work helping community members have greater domain over their cultural and heritage resources.

Ariana Stickel
Doctorate, Clinical Psychology

Born and raised in San Diego, Stickel earned a bachelor's in psychology from San Diego State University as a first-generation college student. At SDSU, she became interested in cognitive aging research but was disappointed to find that existing aging research may not apply to Hispanics.

As a student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, she investigated the influence of cardiovascular and genetic risk factors on day-to-day functioning, cognition and brain structure among Hispanics. She also advised high school and undergraduate researchers. She volunteered for the Arizona Science, Engineering and Math Scholars Program, the Undergraduate Biology Research Program and the Aztec Mentor Program, working to build professional development skills among undergraduates.

Stickel has received the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Philanthropic Educational Organization Star Scholar Award. From the UA, she has received the Initiatives to Maximize Student Diversity Fellowship, the Galileo Scholar Award and the Undergraduate Biology Research Program Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award. She aims to maintain a career that improves access to science for underrepresented community members, and she hopes to enhance our understanding of cognitive aging.

Roman Palitsky
Doctorate, Clinical Psychology

Palitsky was born in Minsk, Belarus. When he was 6, his family immigrated to the U.S. as refugees. He completed a dual bachelor's in psychology and religion at the City University of New York, and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. Having experienced immigration and attended high school near the World Trade Center on 9/11, his interest in psychological and cultural contributions to resilience began at an early age, motivating his research on cultural factors that shape responses to adversity.

Palitsky's research addresses themes of suffering interpretation, representations of space and time, and the influence of cultural factors on cardiovascular health. His dissertation examined the role of emotion regulation as a mechanism in the association between religion and cardiovascular health among bereaved persons.

Currently vice president of the Arizona Meditation Research Interest Group and psychology representative to the Associate Graduate Council for the College of Science, he has been awarded a student research grant from the Association for Assessment and Research in counseling. He intends to pursue a research career in clinical psychology, continuing to investigate cultural contributions to resilience.