UA Little Rock Indian American Graduate Among 3 Honored as Distinguished Alumni
UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale (2nd from left) celebrates Distinguished Alumni winners Helaine Williams (left), Dr. Jaafer Golzar (3rd from left), and Stuti Chatterjee (right). (photo by Ben Krain)
India-West Staff Reporter
An Indian American graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock was one of three remarkable graduates honored during the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony on Nov. 4.
Stuti Chatterjee, a May 2021 graduate, was honored with the Edward L. Whitbeck Memorial Award. Helaine Williams, Sunday Style editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was awarded the Presidents Award. And Dr. Jaafer Golzar, a cardiologist and chief medical officer for Avinger, Inc., received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. All three recipients were honored during a ceremony at the Clinton Presidential Center, according to a press release.
UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale said that the stories of the three honorees serve as a testament to the potential for every student that aspires to be more and entrusts UA Little Rock to provide the right experience to reach their goals.
“Each of these individuals, in their own way, exemplify our very highest aspirations as an institution and for the students we serve,” Drale remarked. “It is our responsibility, as it has always been, to prepare the students of today with the skills for tomorrow. The alumni being honored today demonstrate exactly what that looks like.”
The winner of the Whitbeck Memorial Award represents the top graduate of the year, noted the release. During her time at UA Little Rock, Chatterjee’s list of accomplishments include receiving three Signature Experience Awards and two Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship awards; and copy editing Dr. Michael Wilson’s book, “Behavioral Emergencies for the Healthcare Provider.”
She also worked with Dr. Noureen Siraj, assistant professor of chemistry, to study the use of nanodrugs for effective cancer cell therapies, and was named the 2020 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Student for the Department of Chemistry.
Dr. Simon Hawkins, director of the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program, recalled how Chatterjee’s tenacity and hard work should serve as an inspiration to us all.
“It should come as no surprise that Stuti Chatterjee’s list of accomplishments is impressive indeed,” Hawkins said. “When she came to the university, Stuti struggled with her writing. English is not her first language. It’s not even her second language. Stuti doesn’t make excuses. She solves problems. She started writing her papers earlier. She brought her papers to her professors for advice. She went to her friends for peer reviews. She did whatever she could to improve. She laughs about her struggles and gives others the sense that they can make it too.”
As a native of India who moved to the U.S. at age 10, Chatterjee said she tried many different activities and subjects in order to find her identity while in college, according to the release.
“Someone gave me the best advice I have ever received to this day. He said that if your heart doesn’t scream ‘I want to do it,’ don’t do it. Life is too short to settle for mediocracy,” she said. “With that suggestion in mind, I started narrowing down the options that I felt passionate about. Working in healthcare was always a dream of mine, but being able to interact with patients and the healthcare community only solidified what I wanted to do for a career. Being an undergraduate research assistant and being able to work on cancer therapy research allowed me to build skills that I will be utilizing far beyond my career. I feel fortunate to have been a part of a community where we took care of each other and guided each other as need be.”