Three International Students Named Recipients of the 2022 Mestenhauser Awards for Excellence in Campus Internationalization

Posted on: April 27, 2022

Three Twin Cities campus students recently received the University’s Josef Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization for their outstanding contributions to international education. While the award is open to all students, this year each of the recipients is an international student.

The 2022 recipients—Rawan Ibrahim Algahtani, Basel M. El Mrawed, and Nisma Elias—participated extensively in University organizations and committees that contributed to the internationalization of the curriculum and campus. 

The Mestenhauser Student Award honors the late Emeritus Professor Dr. Josef Mestenhauser, who dedicated his career to advocacy for and commitment to students. 


Rawan Ibrahim Algahtani 

Rawan Algahtani

“As a kid that grew up traveling a lot, I always loved interacting with differences and finding similarities,” said Rawan Ibrahim Algahtani, a recipient of the 2022 Josef Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization. “Therefore my experiences and involvement in internationalizing the campus did unleash my inner personal passion and love toward connecting and bridging cultural differences, by allowing me to meet intelligent and motivational people that share their awesome stories with me.” 

Rawan is an undergraduate student studying Human Resources Development in the College of Education and Human Development. 

She is passionate about entrepreneurship, international affairs, and art, and has the long-term goal to eventually open an international academy for arts, or a gallery that incorporates artwork from around the world. 

On campus, Rawan has served as a mentor and marketing communicator for the International Buddy Program in International Student and Scholar Services and as a facilitator for the International Student Advisory Board. She has also helped departments across the University include the voices of Middle Eastern students through media productions and materials. In 2021, Rawan won first place in the China Bridge Challenge case competition. 

“A legacy that I hope to leave the University of Minnesota is knowing the true meaning of being kind and open to differences along the way,” Rawan said, “(while) holding onto your own beliefs and values.” 

Watch Rawan's digital story »


Bassel M. El Mrawed 

Bassel El Mrawed

“I believe in uplifting the voices of international students,” said Bassel M. El Mrawed, a recipient of the 2022 Josef Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization. “It takes a lot of power to venture out of your home and learn life experiences in a foreign place.” 

Bassel is a Fulbright Scholar pursuing a Master of Human Rights degree—an interdisciplinary program offered by the College of Liberal Arts and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. 

Bassel has worked as a student leader with International Student and Scholar Services for incoming Fulbright Scholars and international students. He has also served as co-president of the Humphrey School’s Gender and Sexuality Policy Event Committee and as the Humphrey student representative to the Student Services Fee Committee. He is currently collaborating on a research project with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to improve transportation equity for underserved communities and is studying partnerships between local and international NGOs as a recipient of the MINN Fellowship. 

“I believe that creating connections with our communities is some of the greatest achievements that we can accomplish,” Bassel said. 

Watch Bassel's digital story »


Nisma Elias 

Nisma Elias

“I really enjoy teaching and coaching academic skills, because it lets me see the individual impact I can have when I see students who have been struggling with academic probation or other challenges find the skills and strategies that help them stay on track and achieve their goals, pass classes, and in general thrive at the U,” said Nisma Elias, a recipient of the 2022 Josef Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization. “Such work allows me to feel like I’m helping to develop globally competent and empathetic citizens among my students at the University of Minnesota.” 

Nisma is pursuing a doctorate in Comparative and International Development Education in the College of Education and Human Development. 

Nisma co-founded the Graduate League of OLPD (GLO) with the goal of bringing together graduate students, faculty, and staff to enhance the experiences of graduate students in the department. She also coaches students in Student Academic Success Services, teaching academic skills classes and supporting students as they navigate various academic situations, and serves as  editor of the student-run, peer-reviewed journal in OLPD, “Reconsidering Development.”

Watch Nisma's digital story »