Banya, Lackey honored with 2011 Kopp International Achievement Award

University Park, Pa. – Ahmed Banya, a doctoral candidate in agricultural and extension education in the College of Agricultural Sciences and a master's candidate in the School of International Affairs, and Jeffrey Lackey, a recent graduate in electrical engineering in the College of Engineering, have been awarded the 2011 W. LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award. Banya receives the graduate award, and Lackey is honored as the undergraduate recipient.

The award recognizes graduate and undergraduate students who have contributed significantly to the advancement of the international programs of the University. It is named for the late deputy vice president for international programs.

A native of Sierra Leone, Banya teaches Introduction to Contemporary Africa and African development courses in the African and African American Studies Department (AAAS), and served an intern for the Humphrey program in the College of Education.

Banya played a leading role in organizing the AAAS Department's Student Council and in organizing the African and African American Studies brown bag series. Currently, he is working on a research project with AAAS faculty member Darryl Thomas on U.S. foreign policy toward Africa under the Obama administration, emphasizing sustainable development.

Since 1995, he has served as the deputy secretary general of the United Nations Association of Sierra Leone. Recipient of the Ardeth and Norman Frisbey International Student Award in 2008, he holds a master's degree from Brigham Young University and a bachelor's degree from Njala University College in Sierra Leone.

Lackey is recognized for his role as Web site developer on the Mashavu project, a telemedicine system that connects medical professionals with patients in remote communities in Kenya. The project has converted a process that involved two days of travel and lost income into a local solution that takes less than 20 minutes at a fraction of the cost.

As president of student chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, he and his team piloted a model in which students, local electrical contractors, and community members install renewable energy systems in developing communities. Upon successful completion of the project, a community in Honduras will have a renewable energy system to light up their homes and serve as a hotbed for microenterprise.

Lackey is in Tanzania to continue his efforts with Mashavu and to work on iSpaces, another Penn State project that involves working with Tumaini University to develop an innovative three-year degree program to train secondary school science teachers.

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Last Updated March 29, 2011