Matthew Nyaaba is named 2024 recipient of the Saeeda Peermahomed Award

Matthew Nyaaba, a second-year Ph.D student in Teacher Education and Elementary Education in the Mary Frances Early College of Education is this year’s Saeeda Peermahomed Award recipient. The award is given annually by International Student Life to recognize outstanding international students.

Matthew’s experience as an international Ph.D. student at UGA has been marked by resilience, determination, and a true dedication to supporting his peers. The challenges Matthew has experienced as a first-time international traveler and first-generation student have fueled his commitment to scholarship and uplifting others in the community.  Maintaining a 4.0 GPA, he has demonstrated that academic excellence and campus involvement can coexist successfully. Matthew has achieved remarkable academic milestones, including 2 peer-reviewed publications in tier-one journals and 4 papers in pre-print. His role as Teaching and Research Assistant has allowed him to lead projects focused on inspiring underrepresented groups in education.

Matthew has also been involved on campus, serving as Vice President of the Graduate Student Organization and as an active member of the International Street Festival planning committee. He has organized cultural celebrations and events with groups that span the boundaries of graduate and undergraduate or domestic and international students. On campus, Matthew’s dedication to supporting international student extends to everyday acts of kindness, from driving students to the grocery store and aiding in shopping, to helping new international students obtain their social security numbers or Georgia driver’s licenses. Additionally, his commitment expands beyond campus borders through various initiatives such as Feed My Starving Childre and Friend of Fellows for Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Nyaaba stated, “This award may serve as a powerful testimony that involvement in ISL and international engagement enriches the academic and social fabric of all students regardless of one’s status… I am deeply committed to continuing this journey, inspired by Saeeda Peermahomed’s legacy and motivated by the potential to make a meaningful impact on the lives of international students at UGA and beyond.”

Linden Dudley, Director for International Student Life said that Matthew is well deserving of this award.  

“The selection committee was impressed by his varied involvement on campus and felt that it showed a true passion for helping others and improving the experience for all international students at UGA.” said Dudley. 

This year’s selection committee was comprised of Dr. Beau Seagraves, Associate Vice President for Student Well-being, Dr. Dan Silk, Associate Vice President for Public Safety, and Robin Catmur, Director of Immigration Services. 

The award is made possible by the Peermahomed Family and is given in memory of Saeeda Peermahomed. Saeeda was a University of Georgia student from India who was studying to obtain a master’s degree in journalism when she was killed in a tragic automobile accident in North Georgia in 1979. Saeeda was an outstanding international student who was active in international student organizations and promoted cross-cultural exchange. This award is given in Saeeda’s memory to honor the goals of inter-cultural exchange for which she stood.  

Each year, all currently enrolled UGA international students are eligible to apply as long as they have a current GPA of 3.5 or better. Application details are made available in early February each year at  

International Student Life is one of the 19 departments within the Division of Student Affairs, and focuses its work on supporting UGA’s 2,700+ international students while also creating unique and educational opportunities for all UGA students to build skills related to intercultural competencies and cross-cultural understanding.

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