Five Graduates Receive Honors at Graduation

Five graduating students from the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas were announced as award winners as part of the school’s Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 7. Madeline Burke, Laura Florick, Lydia Grate, Lea Metz, and Ophelia Akoto each received honors for their academic work and public service leadership at the Clinton School.

MPS & CSO Academic Awards

Madeline Burke was named the recipient of the MPS Academic Award, presented to a student from the Master of Public Service degree program, and Laura Florick received the Clinton School Online Academic Award, given to a student from the online degree program. Both awards were voted on by the Clinton School faculty. Academic Award recipients have demonstrated a deep understanding of the knowledge, skills, and values of the program and have shown that they are able to integrate them across the curriculum and to their public service projects.

As a student, Burke co-chaired the Clinton School’s Social Entrepreneurship Committee and was the 2021 recipient of the Dr. Ruth Allen Scholarship. She partnered with ReMix Ideas as part of her final Capstone project, developing a racial equity index for Little Rock. The index will serve as a tool designed to show which areas in the city have higher and lower opportunities for minority-owned businesses to work with the municipality on a government contract.

Florick is an Assistant Project Coordinator supporting the RADx-UP (Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics – Underserved Populations) program at the University of North Carolina Center for Health Equity Research. She researched the effects of COVID-19 on local, regional, and global food supply chains for her final Capstone project, observing how COVID-19 impacted local small-scale farms and farm workers in the Northwest Arkansas region over the last two years of pandemic disruption.

MPS & CSO Public Service Awards

Lydia Grate (MPS) and Lea Metz (CSO) were named the recipients of the Public Service Award, given to students who have demonstrated excellence in public service during their time at the Clinton School.

Grate, who was recently named a recipient of the Catholic Relief Services International Development Fellowship, will be placed in Antananarivo, Madagascar for 12 months with an anticipated start date of August 1. She was selected as one of 30 Foreign Affairs Campus Coordinators by the U.S. Department of State in Sept. 2021. The program is designed to create a network of State Department student contacts on college campuses across the nation.

Metz is already enrolled in Fielding Graduate University’s Ph.D. program in organizational development and change and will officially being her courses on May 16. She was selected as the student speaker from Clinton School Online at Saturday’s Commencement Ceremony.

Dr. Tom Bruce International Student Prize

Ophelia Akoto is the recipient of the Dr. Tom Bruce International Student Prize. Established by late founding Clinton School Academic Dean Tom Bruce, the award is annually presented to a graduating student from outside the United States who has visibly contributed to world peace during their time at the Clinton School.

Akoto, a native of Kumasi, Ghana, will enter Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management to pursue her Ph.D. in the fall. As a McLarty Scholar, she spent her fall 2021 semester working with Vital Voices Global Partnership and, as part of her work, interviewed past Vital Voices fellows like Rehmah Kasule, Founder of CEDA International; Mersiha Smailovic, Founder of NGO LEGIS; and Violeta Bermúdez, former Prime Minister of Peru.



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