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Whitworth Senior Receives the Governor’s Student Civic Leader Award

May 13, 2020
Whitworth University is pleased to announce Nadia Sarfraz ’20 has been awarded the 2020 Governor’s Student Civic Leader Award.

The award recognizes the top student civic leaders at Washington Campus Compact member institutions who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and commitment to addressing critical issues on their campus and/or community.

Three winners were selected in Washington, one from each institution type: two-year, four-year public, and four-year private institutions.

Sarfraz is a biochemistry major from Harare, Zimbabwe. She has worked extensively with Whitworth’s Dornsife Center for Community Engagement, acting as manager for RISE, a mentorship program that helps K-12 students achieve their potential. She has been an advocate in Spokane for mental health outreach, affordable housing, food security, cultural heritage preservation and animal rescue.

“Nadia defies cancel culture,” says Ross Brooke Watts, Ph.D., the director of the Dornsife Center. “While she advocates for justice for those around her, she unifies people with her message, inviting them alongside her to make positive change. In the Dornsife Center, we talk about being caring, kind and committed as a way of life. Nadia is all of those things, and then some. It is fitting that she has been honored by Governor Inslee with this award, and we are so proud of her.”

“Receiving an award that pinpoints the passions of my heart and outlines my vocation and calling is so humbling and surreal,” Sarfraz says. “Being recognized as an advocate for justice and challenging the status quo when necessary is humbling. I have progressed to this moment in my life through perseverance, believing in the good and having faith. I have strived to live my life in service to those around me, so being recognized for this is the greatest pat on the back imaginable for me. I am thankful to be here and above all thankful to all those who have supported me, challenged me and pushed me to find my voice and use it.”

Sarfraz completed a semester-long internship at both the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the National American History Museum through the George Whitworth Honors Program.

She has received numerous awards including the Elsie & Mel Farris International Student Award, the Communication Achievement Award and the Wisdom From Women Award.

“Nadia is an exceptional woman,” says Ron Pyle, professor of communication studies. “The depth and breadth of her compassion is remarkable. Nadia's commitment to the welfare of others is as inspiring as it is rare.”

Sarfraz has been accepted to two graduate programs at Georgetown University. She will complete a Ph.D. in biochemistry and then a J.D. in law.

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or