May 4, 2023

State System Honors WCU Student with the Ali-Zaidi Award

L-R: WCU President Christopher Fiorentino, Ali-Zaidi Winner Jocelyn Brown, WCU Interim Chair of Political Science Peter Loedel, PASSHE Board of Governors Vice Chair David Masur.West Chester University senior Jocelyn Brown has been awarded the 2023 Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence. The award was presented by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors at their regular meeting in Harrisburg on April 20.

“I am very honored to be the recipient of the 2023 Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence,” said Brown. “It is the ultimate proof that I worked extremely hard in college to get where I am today, especially as a first-generation college student. I am excited to represent WCU to the rest of the PASSHE system.”

Hailing from Mercer, PA, Brown is a political science major specializing in international relations with minors in global studies, civil and professional leadership, and philosophy. She is a part of the Honors College and maintained a 4.0 GPA and has held many student leadership positions. Her academic prowess is evident by her countless awards, including the John C. and Mary Louise Shea Prize in International Relations, the Student Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activities Award, the 1871 Award, and many more.

Brown has also participated in the University’s study abroad programs. In the summer of 2022, she traveled to Germany for two weeks, exploring the successes and failures of democracy in German and American politics. That same summer, she spent a month in Ireland studying and comparing how Irish media differs from American media.

In the summer of 2021, she completed a research project for WCU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI) titled “Goats Die, Butterflies Fly: Portrayals of Dominican Dictator Rafael Trujillo (1891-1961) in Historical Fiction and Non-fiction.” Participants work 37.5 hours/week for five weeks and receive a $3,000 stipend to complete their research. Brown’s findings were published in the college journal Ramifications and she presented her work at the University’s Latina/x/o Communities Conference and the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies.

Brown has held multiple internship positions at places like the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Interfaith Philadelphia, and the University’s Center for Women and Gender Equity. She has completed more than 200 hours of community service including reading to Spanish-speaking children; mentoring freshmen in the Honors College; participating in community cleanups, bake sales, and decoration-making for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Barclay Friends Retirement Home; and writing grants for North Star of Chester County to expand their resource pantry.

She is also involved in three honors fraternities. She’s the president of Pi Sigma Alpha (national political science honors fraternity), an inductee into Omicron Delta Kappa (national honors fraternity), and an inductee into Alpha Alpha Alpha (national first-generation college student honors fraternity). In addition, Brown is the president of Model United Nations, Interfaith Action Committee co-founder, and student body representative for the Council of Undergraduate Research. She is also the secretary for Stitched Together, a new fiber arts club for students.

Brown is waiting to hear back from post-grad options and plans to relocate to Europe after graduation.

Created in 2000, the Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence is conferred upon a graduating senior from one of the State System universities. The award was founded by Dr. Syed R. Ali-Zaidi, a charter member of the Board of Governors. Funding was made possible through gifts from Dr. Ali-Zaidi, Highmark Inc., and the State System Foundation, Inc.


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