OWLIE Awards Recognize JSOM Leaders’ Service to the School

All Owlie Award Winners

OWLIE winners show off the trophies presented to them at the 2017 awards ceremony on April 13 in the Davidson Auditorium.

An audience of about 300 filled the Davidson Auditorium April 13 to enjoy the third annual OWLIE Awards, an event quickly becoming a cherished tradition at the Naveen Jindal School of Management.

The story begins in 2014 with an art event that brought Wise, a mirrored stainless steel owl sculpture by Dallas artist Brad Oldham, to the JSOM courtyard. That installation coincided with an idea that the Dean’s Council had at the time to instill a new tradition at the Jindal School. Student leaders and administrators wanted to begin recognizing outstanding students, alumni; faculty, staff, mentors, employers and groups at an awards ceremony.

The students adopted the owl as their mascot and set about building the new tradition. They named it the OWLIE Awards — the acronym stands for “Outstanding, Worthy Leaders, Involved Exceptionally” — in recognition of JSOM community members who have provided that level of leadership and service on behalf of the school.

Jindal School students, faculty and staff have embraced the annual event, as evidenced by the increased numbers of nominations every year:

Students in the Dean’s Council run the event almost entirely on their own, with some help from Dr. Monica Powell, senior associate dean of the Jindal School and faculty advisor for the OWLIE Awards. This year, highlights included a video welcome from UT Dallas President Dr. Richard Benson, live music by students, energetic banter from masters of ceremony Rachel Scruggs and Vikas Ponnuru and a flash mob that danced to a mashup of AC/DC’s Back in Black and Queen’s We Will Rock You.

Dr. Hasan Pirkul, Caruth Chair and dean of the Jindal School, presented the awards, trophy replicas of the Wise sculpture, to the winners.

Powell explained that the student leaders involved with the event have taken to heart what it means to give back.

“They’re doing it not for themselves; they’re doing it for the school,” she said. “That’s that part of the OWLIES that I love. It says to everybody that great things are happening here. You’re in this great place at this great time where we can celebrate each other’s success.”

Powell said that the success exhibited by the students is going to manifest itself when they transition from academic to work life. “The small examples of leadership that we recognize here in the OWLIES will soon be substantial contributions in leadership in the corporate world.”

2017 OWLIE Awards Winners

Jindal Future CEO

Casey Sublett with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Undergraduate): Casey Sublett

Abinav Varma Kalidindi with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Graduate): Abinav Varma Kalidindi

This award recognizes both an UNDERGRADUATE and GRADUATE student who demonstrate the capacity to lead others. This student displays a strong commitment to individual growth and to the growth of others. This individual demonstrates the drive, determination and mindset of a CEO.

Jindal Master Mentor

Athena Alimirzaei with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner: Dr. Athena Alimirzaei

This award recognizes a member of the JSOM community (faculty, staff, teaching assistant or student) who has demonstrated excellence in mentoring, encouraging and promoting the educational, professional, and personal development of JSOM students.

Jindal Selfless Heart

Flor Morales with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Undergraduate): Flor Morales

Sushant Jain with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Graduate): Sushant Jain

To recognize both UNDERGRADUATE and GRADUATE STUDENT in JSOM who has won hearts through their selfless acts of service to others and/or their community.

Jindal Faculty Idol of the Year

Dr. John Barden with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Undergraduate): Dr. John Barden

Dr. Jeffrey Hicks with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Graduate): Dr. Jeffrey Hicks

This award is presented to a faculty member for excellence in teaching, advising, mentoring and/or supporting students. This individual contributes to the enhancement of the learning experience for students in JSOM.

JSOM Student of the Year

Rebecca Raymond with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Undergraduate): Rebecca Raymond

Hazel Chen with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Graduate): Hazel Chen

This award is presented to a student who contributes to the growth of the JSOM brand. This individual is a strong representative of the school in the academic, community and/or corporate world, excelling in academic performance and/or scholarly pursuits.

JSOM Outstanding Student Organization Leader

Ashley Nicole Levy with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Undergraduate): Ashley Nicole Levy

Elizabeth Wilson with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Graduate): Elizabeth Wilson

This award recognizes a student leader of a registered JSOM organization who has demonstrated a high level of leadership ability through character, work ethic and involvement.

JSOM Student Organization of the Year

Members of Comet Closet with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner: Comet Closet

This award recognizes the JSOM student organization that has made a significant contribution to the school and student body through service, programs, and activities.

JSOM Amazing Alum

Charles Gillis

Winner: Charles Gillis

This award is presented to a JSOM alumnus who has distinguished him- or herself through excellence in supporting JSOM students.

Jindal Employer of the Year


Winner: GEICO

Identified by the Jindal School Career Management Center, nominated employers must have hired students for both internships and final placement positions, and helped to support the professional development of students.

Dean’s Council Super OWL Award

Miranda Turner with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Undergraduate): Miranda Turner

Anh Nguyen with Dean Hasan Pirkul

Winner (Graduate): Anh Nguyen

Nominees must be active members of the Dean’s Council in the Jindal School, providing leadership and support for all the activities of the council.