English Majors Win President's Leadership Awards

Two undergrads awarded University-wide honors for exceptional initiative
Banner of maroon background with gold text of 2021 President’s Student Leadership & Service Awards, with two color photos, one above the other vertically, of Dylan Miettenen and Halima Samatar

The Department of English is pleased and proud that two of our outstanding English majors received University-wide recognition: Dylan Miettinen (top photo) and Halima Samatar both won 2021 President's Student Leadership and Service Awards. The award recognizes students for their exceptional leadership and service to the University of Minnesota and the surrounding community.


As this year's Editor in Chief, Miettinen steered The Minnesota Daily through pandemic shutdowns and coverage of major events on and off campus, settting a high standard of reportage and moving to improve the newspaper's accountability by creating and leading a Minnesota Daily Content Diversity Board. Miettenen has volunteered extensively with the community group Communities United Against Police Brutality and has held leadership positions with the University's Society of Professional Journalists, Minnesota Media and Publishing Association, and Minnesota Hillel Interfaith Group. Last summer, Miettinen assisted with communications for Professor V. V. Ganeshananthan’s internationally known “Fiction/Non/Fiction” literary podcast. Supporting the two co-hosts, Miettinen "often went beyond what we asked of him to offer new ideas and approaches,” Ganeshananthan says. “He's got a great attitude.” Miettinen interned at the nonprofit Minnesota Reformer this fall, where he was able to help the newspaper expose the rise in lead poisoning in children since the pandemic, and the effect of COVID-19 on the finances of local school districts. Miettinen is also majoring in Journalism and Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance. Read our interview.

Samatar is a relationship-building leader both on campus, as Secretary of the Student Legal Service’s student-led Board of Directors, and off, as a Legal Counseling Advocate at Tubman, where she helps clients focus their legal priorities. As a First-Year Experience Section Leader at the University, Samatar helped first-year students find a sense of belonging during a year where their exposure to campus was mainly virtual. Samatar also served this year as an officer for the Fellowship of Undergraduate Students in English (FUSE) group, encouraging a sense of community for English majors and minors. Last spring English Senior Lecturer Eric Daigre guided Samatar in her volunteer service-learning. “After U students were kicked out of their in-person community sites, Halima continued to virtually tutor a high school student who was learning Arabic," says Daigre. “Halima is very skilled at building relationships that are powerful, motivating, and educational.” Samatar is minoring in African & African American Studies and History. Read our interview.

Congratulations to both!

Civic Readiness
Undergraduate Students
Research and Creative Work
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