International Achievement Awards
Kennesaw State University’s International Achievement Awards honor members of the
Kennesaw State family who have actively promoted global awareness and international
cooperation during the last year. Organized by the Division of Global Affairs with
generous support from the Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Foundation, the awards recognize
a distinguished faculty member, alumnus, community partner, public servant, and student.
This page features information about the awards, the nomination process, and sponsorship opportunities. For organizations considering sponsorship, 100 percent of all contributions go directly towards funding international education scholarships.
The 2015 International Achievement Awards were held March 26, 2015 at the Marietta Country Club.
Click here to learn more information about Jagdish Sheth
Kennesaw State University is proud to recognize its outstanding alumni, faculty, students,
and community partners whose exceptional work and service have made a significant
global impact. Annual nominations are solicited for four award categories and all
recipients are honored at the banquet hosted by Kennesaw State University’s Office
of the President, Office of the Provost and The Division of Global Affairs.
Below you will find information about the 2015 recipients and a description of their award.
The 2015 Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Distinguished Alumni Award for Exceptional Humanitarian and Service Achievement
Elizabeth Elango Bintliff
Vice-President of Africa Programs
Heifer Project International
Elizabeth Elango Bintliff is the Vice President of Africa Programs at Heifer Project International, where she has worked since 2000. Based in Little Rock, Ark., she leads Heifer’s program in Africa, managing a portfolio in 12 countries.
Born and raised in Cameroon, Elizabeth earned a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs from Kennesaw State University, and has a Master’s in African Studies from Yale University. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Zanzibar and has worked in South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. She started her career at the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta. She is fluent in English, French, Swahili and West African Krio.
Elizabeth is committed to development, especially for women in Africa, where she believes that giving three things – a choice, a voice and an opportunity – is key to changing the trajectory of development on the continent. Her commitment to fighting poverty and elevating the role of women is evident not just in her work abroad, but also in the U.S. where she serves on the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Foodbank and the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, which promotes women in philanthropy and the empowerment of young girls.
Elizabeth holds a Master’s Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is a graduate of Leadership Arkansas; a program of the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce.
She has represented Heifer International on several local and national media appearances
including ABC’s World News Tonight in 2008 and The Colbert Report in 2009. In 2010
she was selected as “40 Under 40” by the Arkansas Business Chronicle. Elizabeth is
a recipient of the “Crowning Achievers” award by the NW Arkansas Chapter of Alpha
This award recognizes alumni who are highly distinguished in their profession and have made outstanding contributions to government, humanity, science, art, or human welfare. The recipient exemplifies the strength of their education at Kennesaw State University through dedicated international service which demonstrates the highest ideals of dedication to the welfare of communities outside of the United States.
The 2015 Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement
Dr. Laurence Sherr
Composer-in-Residence, Professor of Music
Kennesaw State University
Dr. Laurence Sherr is Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music at KSU. International performances of his work have been given in Austria, Holland, Switzerland, Turkey, Japan, Canada, and Mexico. He has been awarded fellowships by the MacDowell Colony, the American Dance Festival, and Hot Springs National Park, among others. The Florida State University doctoral treatise Laurence Sherr: Chamber Music for Flute details his contribution, and CDs released by the Ein-Klang label in Europe and by Capstone Records in the U.S. include his compositions.
Sherr is active as a composer of Holocaust remembrance music, lecturer on Holocaust music topics, producer of remembrance events, and educator about Holocaust music.
He has performed and lectured in the Czech Republic, Germany, England, Israel, New Zealand, and across North America. The poetry of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Nelly Sachs is featured in Sherr’s compositions Fugitive Footsteps and Flame Language.
In 2014, Sherr gave a keynote address at the Recovering Forbidden Voices international
conference in New Zealand, where his Holocaust works were performed seven times. That
same year, he lectured on his composition Flame Language at an international conference
in Leeds, England, where Fugitive Footsteps was performed, and at the Jewish Museum
He led a workshop on teaching music and the Holocaust at the 2012 International Conference on Holocaust Education at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and his 2011 Prague Holocaust Remembrance Concert was staged under the auspices of the U.S. Embassy. His 2009 concert and educational activities in Germany, produced in collaboration with the children of the generation who persecuted his mother and her family, led to reconciliation and healing. He developed the global-citizenship course Music and the Holocaust at KSU.
Through all of this work, his purpose is to foster greater understanding and tolerance.
The Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement recognizes and honors a member of the full-time teaching faculty who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and creative activity, and professional service which embodies culturally diverse and pluralistic global perspectives; and effective and innovative teaching practices focused on preparing students to be responsible global leaders. The award highlights the importance of the international dimensions of the recipient’s contributions to his/her discipline or subject matter.
The 2015 Kennesaw State University Global Public Service Prize
Dr. Daisaku Ikeda
Soka Gakkai International
Daisaku Ikeda is a Buddhist philosopher, peacebuilder, educator, author and poet. He is the third president of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist organization and the founding president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), which is today one of the world's largest and most diverse lay Buddhist organizations, promoting a philosophy of character development and social engagement for peace.
Daisaku Ikeda heads Soka Gakkai International, one of the world's largest and most diverse Buddhist movements.
Ikeda is founder of the Soka (value-creation) schools, a nondenominational school system based on an ideal of fostering each student's unique creative potential and cultivating an ethic of peace, social contribution and global consciousness. The school system runs from kindergarten through graduate study and includes a university in Tokyo, Japan, and another in California, USA.
Ikeda is a staunch proponent of dialogue as the foundation of peace. Since the 1970s he has pursued dialogue with a wide range of individuals around the world in political, cultural, educational and academic fields. Over 50 of these have been published in book form, with people such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Elise Boulding, Joseph Rotblat and André Malraux. In furtherance of his vision of fostering dialogue and solidarity for peace, Ikeda has founded a number of independent, nonprofit research institutes that develop cross-cultural, interdisciplinary collaboration on diverse issues: the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century (renamed the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue in 2009), the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research and the Institute of Oriental Philosophy. The Min-On Concert Association and the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum promote mutual understanding and friendship between different national cultures through the arts.
Ikeda is a prolific writer who has published more than 100 works, ranging from Buddhist
philosophy to biographical essays, poetry, children's stories and photographic collections.
The GPS Prize is awarded in honor of an international figure that has made important contributions to public service in this country/region. This award is an annual recognition and commitment of support for international academic exchange between Kennesaw State University and the country/region for the Year of the Country Program.
The 2015 Division of Global Affairs Distinguished International Community Partner Award
Il Sasso Language School
Alberto Quinti studied at Liceo Scientifico Galileo Galilei in Siena and majored in History at Siena University. He has a Master’s Degree in Teaching Italian as a Second and Foreign Language.
In 1983, he founded the Cooperative Il Sasso School of Italian Language and Culture for Foreigners, where he currently serves as school director. From 1984 to 1988 Quinti conducted research into literacy problems in the municipal area of Montepulciano, and subsequently planned educational courses to improve the situation. Over the following years, he took on roles as a member of the Board of Directors of several institutions and foundations.
In 1999, Quinti was appointed Head of Culture of the Municipality of Montepulciano. From 2001 to 2009 he was the Representative of Comune di Montepulciano at the Fondazione Musei Senesi; and from 2003 to 2009 he was a Member of the Board of Directors of the Library and Historical Archive of the City of Montepulciano. For the last ten years he has also been a Member of the Board of Directors of the Fondazione Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte di Montepulciano.
Quinti has signed several agreements in the field of cultural politics in Montepulciano,
such as the agreement between the Municipality of Montepulciano and the Music Academy
of Koln (Germany), which now maintains its foreign department in Montepulciano, and
is an original signatory on the Montepuliano Fortezza Project, which led to Kennesaw
State establishing a permanent home on the city.
This award recognizes a local or international partner that has worked with Kennesaw State to establish a sustained project or initiative demonstrating outstanding achievement in and commitment to international outreach and engagement.
The 2015 Emerson Scholarship for the Advancement of International Education
Exercise Science Major
WellStar College of Health & Human Services
Destiny Nieves is a second-year student in the Exercise Science program at WellStar College of Health and Human Services. She will be attending the education abroad program, China Revealed Through its Math Education and Culture, this summer.
A self-defined “fitness nerd,” Destiny transferred to Kennesaw State University after beginning her college career at Emory, where she studied Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. She quickly realized her passion was exercise science, and enrolled at Kennesaw State to pursue that dream.
Destiny’s time at Kennesaw State University has been distinguished by a series of successes inside and outside the classroom. Her name consistently appears on the Dean’s List, and she is a member of the Delta Epsilon Iota Honor Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Destiny has a strong desire to help her fellow students succeed, which inspired her to join the Odyssey Peer Mentoring group, and to form her own campus organization, called Kindness Inspires Kindness, which encourages students to commit random acts of kindness.
While attending Stockbridge High School, Destiny loaded her schedule with advance placement classes, foreign language courses, and a variety of extracurricular activities, including National Honors Society, Art Club, and Varsity Volleyball. Thanks to all of her hard work, Destiny graduated Valedictorian.
Destiny has had a lifetime desire to learn about other cultures around the world.
In high school, she served as Vice-President of the National Beta Club and an officer
in the Thespian Society, which gave her plenty of experience interacting with international
students. As the recipient of the first-ever Emerson Scholarship for the Advancement
of International Education, Destiny is looking forward to visiting China and learning
more about its rich culture via the “international languages of science and math.”
The purpose of the Emerson Award is to provide financial assistance to support students who desire to participate in a Division of Global Affairs education abroad program, specifically one that includes a formal service -learning or community engagement component. Recipients will receive $800 that will be applied towards the fees associated with the education abroad program.
Ralph de la Vega
President & Chief Executive Officer
AT&T Mobile & Business Solutions
Ralph de la Vega was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Mobile & Business Solutions organization in August 2014. He has overall responsibility for the company’s wireless and business services operations, which serve more than 118 million mobile subscribers in the U.S. and more than 4 million business customers in 100 countries globally, including nearly all of the world’s Fortune 1000 companies.
In his previous role, Mr. de la Vega was President & CEO of AT&T Mobility. Under his leadership, AT&T Mobility became one of the world’s leading smartphone and mobile Internet providers and expanded into new growth areas such as connected cars, and home security and automation.
During his career he has held numerous executive positions, including Chief Operating Officer of Cingular Wireless and President of BellSouth Latin America. As the COO of Cingular Wireless, Mr. de la Vega was responsible for the integration of AT&T Wireless and Cingular Wireless, following the largest all-cash merger in U.S. history at the time. As President of BellSouth Latin America, he was responsible for wireless operations in 11 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Uruguay.
He serves on the boards of New York Life Insurance Company, the Georgia Aquarium,
Morehouse College, and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as Chairman
of All-Markets Initiatives for the Boy Scouts of America and is a member of the board
of Junior Achievement Worldwide.
He has received numerous awards recognizing his leadership, including induction into the Atlanta Business Hall of Fame and the prestigious Global Innovation Award from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Mr. de la Vega has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and a master’s degree in business administration from Northern Illinois University. He completed the Executive Program at the University of Virginia and received a Doctor Honoris Causa from FAU.
He is the author of the best-selling book Obstacles Welcome: Turn Adversity to Advantage in Business and Life (Thomas Nelson, 2009).
A native of Cuba, Mr. de la Vega and his family live in Atlanta, GA.
The Division of Global Affairs would like to thank the following organizations for their generous sponsorship of the International Achievement Awards.