Skip to content
  • Print
return to Powell Scholars Program


Powell Scholars Program
Callison Hall
Courtney Lehmann, Ph.D.
Program Director
University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211


Dinelle Davis
Program Assistant
University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Ave
Stockton, CA 95211

Powell Exemplary Leader Award

The Powell Exemplary Leader Award (PELA) is given to leaders who the Powell Scholars believe embody one or more of the Nine Dimensions of a Powell Scholar. This award was previously called the Powell Emerging Leader Award, but the name was changed when the Powell Scholars decided that "Exemplary" better captured the spirit.

2015 - Ellen Chilemba

Chilemba SpeakingEllen Chilemba Speaking at Lecture

The 2015 PELA was presented to Malawian entrepreneur Ellen Chilemba. In 2011, at only 17 years old, Chilemba founded Tiwale, an organization that empowers impoverished women in her community. Through microfinance loans, vocational training, school grants, and a fabric-dying business, Tiwale helps women escape from poverty. For her inspiring philanthropy work, she was named a 2013 International Youth Forum Changemaker of the week, presented with the 2013 Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work, and named one of the 2015 "Forbes Africa 30 Under 30".

Award DinnerAward Dinner
Colleen Motoyasu, Ellen Chilemba

Powell Scholars Colleen Motoyasu (Bioengineering), Jessica Abrolat (Engineering Physics), Lauren Anderson (Engineering Management), Kelly Baucom (Biological Sciences), Neriah Howard (Business Administration), Sarah Lutz (Political Science, Economics), and Liana Stoddard (Bioengineering) planned the event, which consisted of a reception with and lecture by Chilemba, both of which were open to the public. High school students nominated by their administration for excellent leadership were invited and recognized at the event so they could be inspired by Chilemba's success. The award was presented during an invitation only dinner with University VIPs and Powell Scholars that took place after the lecture.

2014 - Brandon Stanton

Stanton at SigningHONY Book Signing
Celja Uebel, Brandon Stanton

In 2013, the Powell Scholars nominated Brandon Stanton, author of the blog Humans of New York (HONY) and the best selling book of the same name, to receive the award.

Brandon Stanton Speaking at LectureBrandon Stanton Speaking at Lecture

Three scholars, Celja Uebel (Biological Sciences), Noelle Tutunjian (Music History), and Connor Morales (Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering), organized the event, which took place in April 2014. A campus-wide contest was held with the prize of a signed copy of Stanton's book. This contest consisted of a single question: “What does it mean to be human?

Stanton was brought to campus where he signed copies of his book, met several students during a reception at the Vereschagin Alumni House, and gave a lecture at Long Theatre, where the team of Powell Scholars facilitated a Q&A session. Stanton was presented with his award during an invitation only dinner with university VIPs and Powell Scholars.

2011 - SOCCKET Inventors

SOCCKET InventorsSOCCKET Inventors
Jessica Matthews, Julia Silverman, Hemali Thakkar

For the first PELA, the Powell Scholars invited the creators of the SOCCKET to Pacific. Jessica Matthews, Julia Silverman, and Hemali Thakkar came to accept the award. The women met at Harvard University and worked together to invent an energy-harnessing soccer ball they dubbed the SOCCKET. The women formed a company around the SOCCKET, Uncharted Play. Initially, the SOCCKET was piloted in resource-poor areas of the Americas, and a Kickstarter campaign soon followed, reaching over 100% of the goal.

Scholars Elizabeth Youngberg (History), Shelly Zeiser (Music Therapy) and Jillian Hall (Speech-Language Pathology) organized a city-wide contest open to all K-12 students to create novel ideas for generating electricity. In late March, all submitted ideas were publicly displayed on Pacific's campus, and the top three were chosen based on creativity, feasibility, and potential for global impact.

SOCCKET Inventors with a Contest WinnerSOCCKET Inventors with a Contest Winner

The women of Uncharted Play were present to meet with the contest entrants and give a lecture about their invention. After the lecture, they were presented with their awards at a dinner with university VIPs and Powell Scholars.