Mentorship Awards 2022

CU EMPower Peer Protégé and Peer Mentors of the Year

Diptic portrait of two male students
CU EMPower peer protege and mentor of the year: Damian Pulla (left) and Rick Zirkel (right)

The CU EMPower protégé and peer mentor awards are presented to a mentoring pair who have made outstanding efforts to maximize their mentoring partnership. As mentoring partners, they have gone beyond regular participation in CU EMPower and by demonstrated a strong commitment to self-development and the group mentoring process.

CU Empower Outstanding Peer Protégé: Damian Pulla ‘25 (Unaffiliated) Engineering
CU Empower Outstanding Peer Mentor: Rick Zirkel, Biomedical Engineering, PhD Student

Damien Pulla is very involved and dedicated to CU EMPower. He developed his relationship with his mentor to gain greater insight into determining his field of study and plans to continue that relationship by having his mentor serve as his research mentor this summer.

Rick Zirkel went above and beyond the required meetings and stayed in constant contact with his proteges. He regularly coordinated meetings and answered any questions. He made every meeting engaging and fun.  He has proven to be caring and committed to helping his protégés develop academically and socially.

The Ephrahim Garcia Graduate Excellence in Mentoring Award

This award is given in honor of Cornell Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Ephrahim Garcia, who passed away in 2014 at an early age. Ephrahim was a mentor and advisor to a great many students and champion for diversity and inclusion.

The Ephrahim Garcia Graduate Student Excellence in Mentoring Award recognizes graduate students who have exhibited exceptional mentorship of undergraduates and/or new graduate students in their assistantships, fosters greater inclusion through mentoring, and works closely with others in research and/or other settings across the college.

Portrait of Nancy RuizNancy Ruiz, Biomedical Engineering, PhD Candidate

Nancy Ruiz is a 5th year PhD student in Biomedical Engineering and has helped others gain independence and achieve ownership of their work with her guidance and mentorship.  She has mentored a range of individuals including 4 undergraduates, one high school student and 2 PhD students.  She is passionate about inspiring and motivating youth in STEM and therefore active in GRASSHOPR which is a graduate student group that supports mentoring and teaching  and she also leads workshops in Expanding Your Horizons which is aimed at motivating and empowering young girls in STEM.

Return to 2022 Annual Awardees list