Student of the Year Awards

These awards recognize students who have made a significant contribution to DPE, the College of Engineering, and the others by demonstrating initiative and positively contributing to the college’s climate toward diversity.

Freshmen of the Year

Portraits of two students
Freshmen of the Year: Neha Malepati (left) and Adigun Olusola (right)

Neha Malepati ’24 (Unaffiliated) Engineering

Neha Malepati has distinguished herself as a participant in the DPE and GE Dare To Lead Program. In the spring semester, she worked on a project with the Senior Director of GE Licensing & Tech Ventures in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Despite initial challenges, she persevered and will present an assessment and additions to The Learning Lab, an employee discussion and training guide, to the Dean of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell. This summer, she will give back to DPE’s high school program, CURIE Academy, as a teaching assistant. As an alumnus of the program, she will inspire high school girls and share how they belong in engineering.

Adigun Olusola ‘24 (Unaffiliated) Engineering

Adigun Olusola is a highly motivated individual dedicated to promoting the well-being of minority students on campus and community outreach. He is an active member of the NSBE, URMC, Cornell Seismic Design Project Team, SOSA, and BSU Events. As a member of the Black Student Union Events Committee, he is also very passionate about helping prospective students and is always willing and excited to offer his advice. He is genuine, supportive, and the ultimate role model.

Undergraduate Student of the Year

Portrait of Adele
Adele Smolansky

Adele Smolansky ’23, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Adele Smolansky developed a start-up to improve education for children with disabilities. She has recruited a team of 20 passionate Cornell students, raised $15,000, formed a legal entity, and more. This team hopes to launch an ed-tech platform, AI-Learners, in fall 2021 to reach thousands of youth and address a key problem affecting online games for kids with disabilities: inadequate design, lack of engagement, and lack of analytics for therapists and teachers. Adele has planned a summer internship for about 10 full-time students. Interns will receive academic credit, a stipend and guidance for Cornell faculty and industry partners.


First Year Graduate Student of the Year

Portrait of Katie
Katie Randolph

Katie Randolph, Biological and Environmental Engineering, PhD Student

Katie Randolph actively participated in Sloan Lunches and helped to develop a sense of belonging and community among new and graduate students. She also played a significant role in organizing and executing a virtual visit for admitted graduate students during the spring semester.




Graduate Student of the Year

Portrait of Chinasa
Chinasa Okolo

Chinasa Okolo, Computer Science, PhD Student

Chinasa Okolo participated in various efforts improving participation in STEM from undergraduates and high school students. These included discussions and panels for ACSU Research Night, the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (CURB) Grad Student Workshop Series, Cornell New Visions Engineering Program, and efforts to promote entrepreneurship. Additionally, she led inclusion efforts for PhD admissions in Computer Science with the new Student-Applicant Support Program, CS PhD admissions commitee, and diversity events during CS Visit Days. These efforts contributed to an increase in applications from diverse student populations (women + URM) and an increase in enrolled women-identifying students. She also moderated, hosted, and participated in entrepreneurship webinars for eCornell, CREA, and Cornell Career Services. She is continuously working towards shaping programming for entrepreneurship programs for graduate students in Engineering + CIS.


Return to 2021 Annual Awards list