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/ / 2021 Saeeda Peermahomed Award Winner
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2021 Saeeda Peermahomed Award Winner

Ayca Fackler is named the 2021 recipient of the Saeeda Peermahomed Award

Ayca Fackler, a third year Ph.D. candidate in Science Education in the Department of Mathematics and Science Education, working under the direction of Dr. Daniel Capps, is this year’s Saeeda Peermahomed Award recipient. The award is given annually by International Student Life to recognize outstanding international students.

Ayca initially came to UGA in 2016 and earned her Master of Arts in Science Education from the Mary Frances Early College of Education. Following her master-level graduate work, she continued her studies at UGA in the same department where she currently is a Ph.D. candidate. Ayca’s academic achievements comprise of numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals along with several awards, including the Graduate Education Advancement Board Fellowship by the UGA Graduate School and the 2021 Jhumki Basu Fellowship by the National Association of Research in Science Teaching.

As an active member of the university community, Ayca has volunteered with several initiatives at UGA, including serving as the Treasurer for UGA’s Science Education Graduate Association, and most recently as a representative on UGA’s Division of Student Affairs Student Advisory Board.

Most notably, Ayca served as chairperson of the International Student Advisory Board during the 2020-2021 academic year and has served as a member of the board since 2019. In addition to her volunteer service, Ayca currently serves as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the department of Mathematics and Science Education, teaching an undergraduate science education course.

Justin Jeffery, director of International Student Life, said that Ayca is well-deserving of this year’s award.

“The selection committee was impressed by her involvement on campus and nationally and felt that it showed a true passion for helping others and improving the experience for all international students at UGA. Further, Ayca’s academic accomplishments epitomizes what we hope for all of our international students,” said Jeffery.

This year’s selection committee was comprised of Dr. Jan Barham, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Tate Student Center, Mr. Marques Dexter, Assistant Director of Student Initiatives within the Office of Institutional Diversity, Dr. Dan Silk, UGA’s Chief of Police, Dr. Sayamon Singto, a lecturer within the Division of Academic Enhancement, and Dr. Lisa Sperling, Director of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives at the Graduate School.

Dr. Daniel Capps, associate professor and graduate coordinator for science education expressed great admiration for his advisee Ayca in his letter of support.

“Beyond her impressive record as a scholar, Mrs. Fackler has quickly earned a reputation as a leader… Through her service and leadership at ISAB, Mrs. Fackler aims to make sure the voices of international students are heard on campus,” wrote Capps.

Ayca said that winning the award means a lot to her personally.“I am very delighted and honored to receive this year’s Saeeda Peermahomed Award. This award affirms my commitment to advocate for diversity and an inclusive academic and social life for international students. When we traditionally talk about diversity, international students are an afterthought. This award emphasizes the importance of diversity that is inclusive of international students at UGA.” said Fackler.

The award is made possible by the Peermahomed Family and is given in memory of Saeeda Peermahomed. Saeeda was a University of Georgia student from India who was studying to obtain a master’s degree in journalism when she was killed in a tragic automobile accident in North Georgia in 1979. Saeeda was an outstanding international student who was active in international student organizations and promoted cross-cultural exchange. This award is given in Saeeda’s memory to honor the goals of inter-cultural exchange for which she stood.

Each year, all currently enrolled UGA international students are eligible to apply as long as they have a current GPA of 3.5 or better. Application details are made available in early February each year at isl.uga.edu.

International Student Life is one of the 19 departments within the Division of Student Affairs, and focuses its work on supporting UGA’s 2,700+ international students while also creating unique and educational opportunities for all UGA students to build skills related to intercultural competencies and cross-cultural understanding.