Hlawn K. Zathang, an accounting major from Indianapolis, Indiana, and Nathan Graves, an education major from Renssalaer, Indiana, were named the University of Evansville’s Outstanding Seniors during Commencement at the Ford Center last Saturday.
The Mabel Dillingham Nenneker and Guthrie May Outstanding Senior Service Awards are the highest honors the University presents to one female and one male senior. They are named for two of the University’s most respected alumni, Mabel Dillingham Nenneker and Guthrie May.
Zathang was the recipient of the Mabel Dillingham Nenneker Outstanding Senior Service Award. She graduated with an accounting degree and has earned sufficient credit hours to sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam following graduation.
In 2008, Zathang moved with her family to America from Burma (now Myanmar). Nobody in her family spoke English, so she committed to learn English fast in order to assist her family with the transition. Zathang has also volunteered to assist other refugee families relocate to America. She is one of approximately 10,000 Burmese people now living in south Indianapolis. Through these experiences, Zathang became inspired to give back by helping others. Since her arrival in Evansville, she has volunteered at the Evansville ARC Industries, Little Sisters of the Poor, and Pine Haven Nursing Home.
Zathang is involved with the Burmese American Institute, a not-for-profit organization that helps students and people in the community focusing on college research, tutoring, and childcare development. Zathang helps students with research, tracks cash flow for the Institute’s program, calculates staff payroll, organizes participant, staff, and organization partner files, and assists with fiscal reporting.
Overall, Zathang says, “It is obvious that through my four years at the University of Evansville, I have not only grown in an education aspect, but I also discovered what it means to be a good citizen. I also realize the size of my responsibility starting with my family, to the community, and to the world.”
The Guthrie May Award was presented to Graves, who was also the ceremony’s senior keynote speaker. He graduated with a bachelor of science in special education and elementary education, and will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall to pursue a master’s degree for a future in higher education.
Graves helped incoming and potential students as an admission ambassador and orientation leader, and was involved with local schools through practicums and internships. He served as event coordinator for an after school program that finds homes for those whose situations leave them without a place to live.
Graves was inspired to enroll in a social responsibility class to become more culturally competent, and participated in training provided by the Anti-Defamation League. He went on to lead small group discussions on campus in an effort to educate others in diversity and acceptance.
His list of involvements is long, but he says it’s not titles, the clubs, or the committees that matter - his participation was always with the goal to understand people better and to help in situations where there was opportunity to make a positive impact on others and help people.
“As I look forward to a career in higher education,” Graves says, “I know that each day will provide me with an opportunity to do something meaningful for the rest of my life. It will not be easy, and I may not get a lot of rest at night, but I can be a part - even if it is a small part - of a crucial time in a person’s life that can transform the way they choose to see and engage in the world.”