The Williamson Medal is the highest student award presented each year at Franklin & Marshall’s Commencement and is given to the member of the graduating class who has, during his or her senior year, reached the highest standing in character, leadership and scholarship. The medal, endowed by Owen Moon Jr., in memory of former trustee Henry S. Williamson, has been presented annually since 1922. This year, it is awarded to Yousra Chaabane.
Yousra’s academic research has focused on state stability and social capital in the Middle East. She recently defended her honors thesis, F&M’s first conducted in International Studies. Using field research she gathered in Jordan, it examines the effects of social capital on ethnic relations in that country, specifically between the two largest ethnic groups, Transjordanians and Palestinian-Jordanians.
Yousra’s intellectual curiosity has led her to study these important issues all over the world—in Jordan and South Africa, as well as at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. Soon, it will lead her to the master’s program in international relations and politics at the University of Cambridge in England, where she will continue her research, assisted by a Global Grant Scholarship from the Rotary Club, which will cover nearly all of her costs.
Yousra came to the College from a small town in the central Dutch province of Gelderland. She graduates summa cum laude with a major in government with a minor in Area Studies Middle East.
Yousra has earned numerous honors and awards, including the Marshall Fellowship, the Dana Scholarship, the George W. Wagner Political Science Prize, the Sidney Wise Public Service Fellowship, the Elana Stein Memorial Fellowship, and the Paul Mueller Student Travel Award. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, and Pi Gamma Mu. She is a member of Black Pyramid Senior Honor Society, where she organized interfaculty debates on important issues. She has been a Ware Mentor, a Ware College House Advisor, an intern in the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development, and a session facilitator for the 2016 Day of Dialogue. She has served as the chair of Diplomatic Congress’s Academic Life Committee and as a member of the Faculty Committee on International and Off-Campus Study, and the Board of Trustees Enrollment Committee.
Yousra has done much to attract fellow international students to F&M and support them when they enroll. She is president of the International Student Advisory Board, where she has been a member for three years, and has been a tour guide for the Office of Admission for four years. She also is an international student interviewer for that office, talking to prospective students around the globe.
Yousra, your outstanding academic research, your extraordinary record of scholarship and your dedication to your fellow students and the Franklin & Marshall community personifies the College’s ideal of developing graduates of intellect, character and leadership. You are an ambassador for not only the power of a liberal arts education, but also for all that makes F&M such a special place. Congratulations!