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Award recipients Arnav N. Prasad (left) and Bianca Mers
The University of
Delaware Alumni Association (UDAA) announced the 2020 recipients of the
Emalea Pusey Warner and Alexander J. Taylor Sr. Outstanding Senior
Awards, honoring two of the most high-achieving seniors in the Class of
2020: Bianca Mers and Arnav N. Prasad.
The names of the recipients will
be inscribed on a wall in the new Alumni Circle,
which honors recipients of the senior awards as well as alumni
volunteers and leaders who have made significant impacts at the
The Warner and Taylor awards annually celebrate an outstanding woman
and man, respectively, of the senior class.
leadership, academic success and community service. Students must also
have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or better at the end of the
first semester of their senior year.
Bianca Mers is an honors international relations major with minors in
organizational and community leadership, public policy and Spanish. She
is involved in community service through the co-ed service fraternity
Alpha Phi Omega; as president of the student organization Strong
#likeagirl at UD, for which she serves as a mentor for young girls at an
after-school program at Springer Middle School in Wilmington; and
through her internship with REACH Riverside, a non-profit that is
revitalizing the historically underserved Riverside neighborhood in
“As someone who believes in the value of differences, community
engagement has been a central part of my college involvement because it
has helped me to connect with and better appreciate other people and
their experiences,” Mers said. “My passion for building better
communities has also motivated me to improve the quality of life for
students at UD.”
Through her role as sustainability chair of the UD chapter of the
United Nations Association, a student organization she co-founded, Mers
encourages students to actively participate in global efforts for
change. And as co-president of the Delaware Diplomats, Mers works to
increase awareness of and decrease financial barriers to studying abroad
for traditionally underrepresented groups.
“We better prepared students to study abroad through increasing their
intercultural communication skills by building relationships with
international groups on campus such as the English Language Institute,”
Mers said. “My on-campus involvement allowed me to actualize my
commitment to creating positive change, which has influenced my academic
path as well.”
Mers, who said she is a first-generation, low-income student, is
participating in the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement
Program, which supports students from traditionally underrepresented
backgrounds. Through the Program, Mers has been able to conduct
undergraduate field research abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which
helped direct her path to graduate school. She looks forward to pursuing
a master’s degree in city and regional planning at the Georgia
Institute of Technology in the hopes that she’ll eventually be able to
create more environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive
communities through better planning practices and policies.
“While I take great pride in my ambition and my own efforts, I know
the experiences I’ve had are as much a product of the people before me
who have worked tirelessly to create these opportunities,” Mers said.
“My community at UD has challenged, guided, and inspired me to become
the person I am now: confident, motivated, proud, and above all,
Arnav N. Prasad is an Honors student with a major in mechanical
engineering and a minor in mathematics. In addition to his demonstrated
ability to problem-solve and think analytically, Prasad has held
numerous leadership roles, served as a mentor and has continuously
looked for ways to give back to UD and the larger STEM community.
Prasad has served as a teaching assistant for the Mechanical
Engineering Design Studio since his sophomore year, instructing peers in
using rapid manufacturing technologies that are used extensively in the
industry. As a junior, he was selected as an undergraduate TA for two
mechanical engineering core courses. He also is president of the
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) at UD, for which he
provides peers with unique opportunities to develop their professional
and technical skills and has led UD’s chapter to two different ASME
national robotics competitions.
He also offers his time to volunteer in several capacities both on
and off campus. On campus, Prasad participates in many Admissions
events, such as Decision Days and Blue and Gold Days, to share his
experience as a student at UD with prospective students and their
families. As Eugene duPont Distinguished Scholar, he has volunteered
each year to plan and coordinate the competition weekend for the next
class of Scholars, composed of over 90 high school students.
“UD has played an invaluable role in shaping me as a young professional, and I am proud to pay it forward,” Prasad said.
Outside the UD campus community, Prasad spends 15 hours each week
mentoring a FIRST Robotics team based in Wilmington. Many of the groups
he mentors are from underrepresented populations.
“My own participation on this team during high school played a vital
role in my decision to pursue a mechanical engineering degree,” he said.
“Now, as a team mentor, I am able to ignite in my students the same
passion I have for knowledge while inspiring them to face challenges
with an open mind.”
Prasad is pursuing graduate courses at UD through the 4+1 Bachelor of
Mechanical Engineering/Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
“As my [undergraduate] time at UD comes to a close, I reflect
gratefully on the skills and experiences I have acquired and look
enthusiastically to future opportunities to implement all that I have
learned. Thank you, UD.”
Article by Megan Maccherone; photos courtesy of Arnav N. Prasad and Bianca Mers
May 8, 2020
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