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Distinguished Graduate Award

The Distinguished Graduate Award recognizes an exceptional alumnus who embodies the university's mission within personal and professional efforts.

To be considered for this award, you should:

  • Provide evidence of regular and/or sustained service to the university
  • Provide evidence of regular and/or sustained service to the community/society
  • Provide evidence of a significant impact on the profession and/or community in which the individual has been active
  • Provide an inspirational example to all graduates
  • Accomplishments should be achieved over the lifetime of the graduate and should be ongoing
  • Nominees may be self-nominated, nominated by another graduate, a member of the faculty or staff, or another person outside the university who knows the nominee and the university well
  • Nominees will be notified of their nomination and encouraged to apply for the award
  • The award may, but will not necessarily, be awarded annually

All materials are to be submitted in one complete packet on the award nomination form. Late or incomplete submissions will not be considered.

  • A cover page including your name, student ID, degree completed, contact information, and graduation date
  • One letter of recommendation from a faculty member or supervisor who knows you well. The letter should specifically address how you meet the requirements for the award. You may want to give your recommendation writer a brief summary of the award
  • An original essay of no more than 1,000 words that outlines why you are an exceptional candidate for the award including concrete examples of how you meet each of the requirements for this award. Your essay should answer questions such as:
    • In what ways have your achievements been truly extraordinary?
    • How have you showed interest in supporting a lifetime of military or public service?
    • In what ways have you promoted and encouraged continuous learning?
  • Evidence that you received state or national recognition for significant achievements in your chosen field and an additional letter of support/recommendation
  • Your current professional resume
  • Additional information such as news articles, recognition awards, and volunteer service that supports the nominations are encouraged, but not required
  • Award recipients will be honored during Commencement weekend, and should we have an in-person celebration, one night accommodations and individual travel expenses to attend Commencement will be paid for by the University
  • Award recipients receive a crystal trophy
  • Award recipients are not required to attend Commencement to accept the award

Distinguished Graduate Award Recipient

Hwal Lee

Hwal is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Award. He is a community health PA, APUS. University Ambassador and mental health advocate. Hwal earned his Bachelor of Science in Sports and Health Sciences from APU in 2017 with a 4.0 GPA and received the Undergraduate President’s Award. Hwal is deeply passionate about helping others and wears many different volunteer hats: he is a dual-certified Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor, Virginia state-certified Lay Rescuer Trainer for REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education program, crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention-trained presenter for Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention. His volunteer activities have reached more than 1,000 community members across the country, and Hwal considers community service his lifelong hobby. His experience as a former middle school dropout, who encountered challenges accessing higher education, created an enduring hunger for learning and passion for service at a young age. He is fully committed to using his education to help others who may not have access to resources. This year, as the US Department of Health and Human Services’ National Health Service Corps Scholar, Hwal has relocated to a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area for postgraduate medical practice. And he is honored to serve underprivileged and vulnerable community members through compassionate, trauma-informed, and person-centered integrated primary health care. Almost three decades after leaving middle school, Hwal’s mission continues.


The submission deadline is now closed. Please stay tuned in Fall 2022 for additional information and contact the University Awards Committee if you have questions.