Undergraduate honored for humanitarian work

Undergraduate honored for humanitarian work

Rice News staff

Anna Roberts got the word on Tuesday that she’d soon meet one of her heroes.

“I was at work and saw an e-mail from the Office of the President,” Roberts said a few hours before receiving her undergraduate degree from Rice and minutes before receiving the Muhammad Yunus Commencement Award for Humanitarian Leadership from the Nobel Peace Prize winner himself. “I knew it was a big deal.”

Pictured from left are Rice President David Leebron, Anna Roberts and Muhammad Yunus.

Roberts, a native of Oviedo, Fla., who majored in history and the study of women, gender and sexuality, was awarded a medallion by Yunus at Wiess President’s House before commencement. The award recognizes a graduate or undergraduate student whose academic or extracurricular work while at Rice demonstrates the lifetime values and efforts of that year’s commencement speaker.

“I’ve been a fan of Dr. Yunus since my sophomore year, since I took a class with Dr. (Diana) Strassmann (Rice’s professor in the practice in humanities and editor of Feminist Economics). I’ve read his books – and brushed up before meeting him today,” she said.

Roberts, who finished her coursework in December, spent much of her Rice career working for the benefit of others. She was student director of the Women’s Resource Center, a member of ADVANCE, an American Cancer Society volunteer and a legislative intern at the Houston Area Women’s Center on behalf of Texas House Rep. Ellen Cohen.

The Sid Richardson resident spent the summer before her junior year on a Loewenstern Fellowship in Brazil.

“I volunteered in a part-orphanage/part-shelter for abandoned, elderly women. It was really great,” Roberts said. “I learned how to count up to 100 in Portuguese, because I was the official bingo lady. One woman kept trying to cheat by accusing me of mispronouncing the numbers. They were elderly, and some suffered from dementia, so I was glad they were still nimble enough to figure out how to cheat at bingo.”

Roberts has spent the months since finishing her work at Rice interning in the Washington, D.C., office of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill as part of Running Start, an organization that gets young women involved in politics. She will soon start working full time at Gerson Lehrman Group, a Washington-based consulting firm.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.