June 17, 2015
Parker LiaBraaten and Alaa Al Radwan
Each year, Drury faculty and staff choose two people from the graduating senior class to honor as the Outstanding Senior Man and Woman of the Year. This annual tradition recognizes two students who demonstrate leadership ability, scholastic achievement, campus involvement and community involvement. The 2015 honorees are architecture grad Alaa Al Radwan and physics grad Parker LiaBraaten. We caught up with them to ask them a few questions before they moved onto the next big phase of their lives.
How do you feel about receiving this honor?
Alaa: I honestly think that this senior class is one of the most impressive one that has passed through Drury. My opinion might be a little biased, but I think it’s one of the most diverse and is full of leaders that I believe will change the world. It’s a great honor to receive Senior Woman of the Year. I’ve never felt more recognized by an award.
Parker: It means a great deal to me to receive acknowledgement from people I respect. The faculty and staff at Drury are amazing so I feel very honored to have been selected by them.
What was it like to lead the procession during graduation? I know it’s a small thing but also pretty symbolic.
Alaa: Leading the procession during graduation was unbelievable. I think it’s one of the biggest honors anyone can receive. Carrying our class flag and representing the greatness of this school and the 2015 graduates was pretty amazing. Being one of the few that has had the honor of doing so is even more unbelievable.
How would you sum up your time at Drury?
Alaa: I’ve learned more at Drury than I ever thought I would. I’ve learned more about myself, my interests and what I am capable of doing. Drury does this thing where it encourages its students to do and be more. It encourages students to do everything and be brave doing it. I’ve never felt more capable in my life. At any other school, I wouldn’t have been as involved in so many different things, or developed any of the skills that I have in the past five years.
Parker: I feel that my years at Drury were incredibly useful in preparing me for my future. The Liberal Arts education exposed me to so much, expanding my ideas and viewpoints. I feel I am leaving with a strong foundation of learning to build upon for the rest of my life.
What have you been reflecting upon during the final few days and weeks?
Parker: The last few days I reflected on the many resources the university has to offer, mostly the people. I will miss being surrounded by such creative, passionate, and intelligent people. The professors are so helpful with their knowledge and wisdom. Also, being around driven students encouraged me to be more ambitious.
How did you find the time to be involved in campus and community activities and also excel in the classroom?
Parker: Passion was vital in finding time to be involved on campus and in the community. If you truly love doing something you will make time for it.
Alaa: When I first started at Drury, I did as much as I could and as much variety as I could. I got involved in everything from political to social groups. As I discovered and learned more about myself, I started focusing on activities that I became more interested in. Really, it’s all about priorities and time management. I found that I spent more time on activities that I felt most passion towards. Drury supports students that want to be involved, and everything I joined and did only made me excel more in the classroom.
What your immediate plans for the future?
Alaa: I’ve actually just recently accepted a research fellowship at the SENSEable city Lab at MIT. So I’ll be moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, working at a lab and pursuing my future in research eventually working towards a Ph.D. in urban design and hopefully being a professor one day.
Parker: I am splitting my summer up between Seattle and rural Iowa doing mechanical recycling and agricultural work. I am planning on living abroad in New Zealand this fall.
What’s your hope for the Class of 2015?
Parker: I hope that the Class of 2015 will be kind. They are talented, intelligent, ambitious, and full of potential and I have no doubt they will have success. So, I hope in their success they are kind to others, using their skills to benefit and assist others.
Alaa: I know that the class of 2015 has already made a great difference at Drury and the world and I expect nothing less for our future. Our class is made up of visionary, world-changing leaders and I can’t even imagine what greatness this class will achieve all over the globe.