The Making a Difference Awards are given to members of our NYU community – students, faculty, young alumni, and employees – who have made a profound and lasting impact for the better on the city, region, nation, or globe.

The awards highlight ideas, discoveries, or new and effective approaches that solve a critical problem, provide relief to underserved populations, or break down barriers of misunderstanding and intolerance. They can be in any field of endeavor.

President Andrew Hamilton bestowed the first-ever Making a Difference Awards at his Inauguration Ceremony on September 25, 2016. The 2018 awards were presented on September 27, 2018.

2018 Making a Difference Award Recipients

Isabela "Isay" Acenas, College of Arts and Science, Class of 2021; Founder, IE, for her projects advancing entrepreneurship and agricultural methods in the Philippines

H.E. Shamma Suhail Faris Al Mazrui (NYUAD '14), Minister of State for Youth Affairs, United Arab Emirates, for advocating for youth interests in the UAE

Alina Das (WAG '05, LAW '05), Professor of Clinical Law and Co-Director of the NYU School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, for defending the rights of immigrants through scholarship and litigation

NYU Veterans Working Group, consisting of administrators from across NYU's schools and divisions, for supporting student veterans on campus

2016 Making A Difference Award Recipients

Olugbenga G. Ogedegbe, a physician, professor in NYU’s School of Medicine, and Vice Dean of NYU’s College of Global Public Health, for his health research and outreach in the U.S. and Africa

Diane Geng, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at NYU Shanghai, and Wei Ji Ma, professor of neural science and psychology in NYU’s Faculty of Arts and Science, for their work in establishing the Rural China Education Foundation

Alumnus Scott Harrison for founding the nonprofit “charity: water,” which has provided over 6 million with clean water

The Mercy Project, a sentencing relief initiative founded by the NYU School of Law’s Center on the Administration of Criminal Law and conducted by NYU Law students