Outstanding freshman, 2012. Outstanding junior, 2014. With her selection as the 2015 Alumni Association Lauds and Laurels Outstanding Undergraduate Student, Sanaa Khan achieved UCI’s Triple Crown for undergrads (not to mention she was a Harry S. Truman Scholar finalist, one of three UC Student Regent finalists, and is currently in the running for a Fulbright fellowship).

“To cut right to the chase, Sanaa is arguably among the 10 best undergraduate students I’ve ever had the chance to work with in a teaching career which now extends over 33 years,” says Mark Petracca, political science associate professor and social sciences associate dean of undergraduate studies.

A double major in political science and international studies as well as a member of the Campuswide Honors Program, Khan came to campus in 2011 a graduate of Whitney High School in Cerritos, CA where she earned top scores on seven of her Advanced Placement exams, entering her freshman year at UCI with 52.5 units.

She’s made the dean’s honor roll every quarter of her undergraduate career. And she’s somehow found time to serve in several leadership roles with ASUCI, as a member of the board of directors for the Women of Color Caucus, and in three different internships that have landed her seats at the table in important political and policy circles in D.C., Sacramento and Oakland.

Khan’s parents immigrated to the United States from India before she and her two siblings were born. Their story and that of her grandparents’ spans 25 years – the bulk of which found her grandfather and grandmother living on separate continents. The sacrifice her family made to give Khan, her brother and sister a better life created a sense of responsibility that has shown itself in Khan’s wildly impressive list of accomplishments.

“Sanaa approaches her education with a sense of purpose, but also with a splendid sense of joy and enthusiasm. She appreciates the responsibility she has to the family to make good upon her grandfather’s bet in 1969 that living in America would mean a better life for the entire family, no matter perhaps how much it had to sacrifice for that opportunity along the way,” Petracca says.

After receiving her degree in June, she plans to pursue a master’s in public policy from the Goldman School at UC Berkeley and then a career focused on educational advocacy in and for the State of California.

“Sanaa’s enthusiasm for education, given her background, is a dependable predictor of her continued success here at UCI and beyond,” Petracca says. “I can’t wait to see what she’s likely to accomplish in the years ahead.”

Khan will receive the Alumni Association’s Lauds & Laurels Outstanding Undergraduate Award at the 45th annual gala May 14.

-Heather Ashbach, Social Sciences Communications
-photo by Steve Zylius, University Communications

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