Mary McDermott Cook Outstanding Student Award Names 1st Winner

Rose Ashraf’s family moved to the U.S. from Pakistan when she was a toddler to give her better educational opportunities.

“I’ve grown up with that instilled in me,” Ashraf said. “My dad moved all the way over here, so I better do well. School has always been a priority of mine, and that’s what brought me to UT Dallas.”

Rose Ashraf

Recent UT Dallas psychology graduate Rose Ashraf was selected as the first recipient of the Mary McDermott Cook Outstanding Student Award.

To prepare for her career as a clinical psychologist, Ashraf maintained excellent grades, volunteered on the Contact Crisis Line, served as a peer advisor for UT Dallas Residential Life and participated in the AES Freshman Mentor Program.

Her exceptional commitment to UT Dallas and the local community has been recognized with the inaugural Mary McDermott Cook Outstanding Student Award, created by the Office of Undergraduate Education to honor remarkable students.

The award includes $5,000 and a plaque for the chosen undergraduate student. The award is supported by the same anonymous donation that funds the Mary McDermott Cook Distinguished Chair for Undergraduate Education and Research.

Student candidates are nominated by the faculty and staff, and judged by a committee composed of the dean of undergraduate education, faculty, staff and members of the student body. The award will be given each spring.

Ashraf received the award during the spring 2013 Honors Convocation Ceremony. She just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS).

Dr. Joanna Gentsch, assistant dean of undergraduate education in the school, nominated Ashraf for the award. “Rose is extremely good natured and empathetic. She is a truly outstanding individual and is a wonderful representative of UT Dallas,” said Gentsch.

Ashraf conducted award-winning research with Dr. Marion Underwood, an Ashbel Smith Professor.

Rose is one of the best research assistants we have ever had, and her conscientiousness and attention to detail were huge assets to us from the start.

Dr. Marion Underwood,
Ashbel Smith Professor

“Rose is one of the best research assistants we have ever had, and her conscientiousness and attention to detail were huge assets to us from the start,” Underwood said.

Ashraf said she found out about the award just before her graduation, where she served as the student speaker at the BBS commencement.

“I’m still absorbing it – it’s a strange feeling,” she said. “It's just really humbling to know that faculty I think so highly of, also think so highly of me. It's a huge honor.”

Ashraf recently began her doctoral work in the clinical psychology program at Southern Methodist University.

Dr. Sheila Amin Gutierrez de Piñeres, former dean of undergraduate education at UT Dallas, said the award was established to honor a graduating senior who demonstrates leadership, commitment, perseverance, creativity and service to the University and the community at large.

“Mary McDermott Cook has a long history of giving back to the community and the University, which is why the award sought to identify students who excelled both in and outside the classroom,” Piñeres said.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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