Anna M. Ardelean, who will graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science and minors in Africana studies, pre-law and Spanish studies from the University of Southern Indiana College of Liberal Arts, has been named the recipient of the President’s Medal, the highest honor bestowed to a graduate in the Class of 2022.
Ardelean, a David L. Rice Scholarship recipient, University Honors Scholar, a recipient of the Sherianne Standley University Service Award and the first to receive the Anne Statham Community Engagement Award, is committed to equity, accessibility and justice at USI and beyond.
As Student Government Association (SGA) President, Ardelean was responsible for representing student voices to University administration. During her time as SGA President, she implemented a series of public forums to encourage students to learn from key individuals in the USI and Evansville communities. Through her four years on campus, she also advocated bringing a polling location to campus to increase youth voter participation, collecting over 500 survey responses from students who showed overwhelming support for the initiative, in addition to registering roughly 250 USI students to vote.
Ardelean, a first-generation college student, is praised for her leadership qualities, diversity, equity and inclusivity initiatives and service to USI and the Evansville communities. Those who recommend her note her ability to achieve academic excellence while advocating for positive change for all facets of USI.
In addition to her role in SGA, Ardelean was a member of the USI Presidential COVID-19 Task Force, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, the Administrative Appeals Committee, and the recent Division I Exploratory Committee, among others. She served as USI College Democrats President where she encouraged students to engage in political activism. Ardelean has spoken at numerous anti-racist protests, the USI Martin Luther King Jr. annual celebration and the USI Nelson Mandela Day student activism panel.
Beyond USI, Ardelean has worked on various political campaigns at the local, state and national levels. She interned with the Evansville Vanderburgh County Human Relations Commission in spring 2021, addressing discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.
Following her graduation, Ardelean intends to continue her education to earn a master’s degree in public policy with an emphasis on racial and economic policy from Brandeis University in Boston, Massachusetts. She plans to run for office or work in the nonprofit sector, pushing for positive change from outside the political system. “Wherever I land, I fully intend to continue supporting my alma mater,” she says. “USI has given me so much hope for the future, and more importantly, the skills to forge my future.”
Other finalists for the President’s Medal from the Class of 2022 included Elissa Tam and Erika Uebelhor. The Student Affairs Committee of Faculty Senate annually selects the recipient of the President’s Medal.