DAAD Award

For outstanding international students at Goethe University

Every summer semester, the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) and Goethe University identify an international student with exceptional qualifications to be given the DAAD award, which includes prize money to the amount of € 1,000.

Candidates must be suggested by university lecturers. International students may approach university lecturers and ask them about the award.

The award ceremony usually takes place as part of the New Year’s Reception for international guest researchers and DAAD scholars.

Due to the pandemic, the DAAD award was not given out in 2020. In 2021, the department of Global Affairs Study and Teaching awarded the prize again successfully.


2021 – Janak Dhakal – Medicine

On January 17th, Janak Dhakal was awarded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Prize for International Students of Goethe University. Since a celebration could not take place due to the current pandemic situation, Vice President Prof. Dr. Christiane Thompson invited Janak Dhakal and the nominating professor, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Miesbach, to the presidium for handing over the certificate with masks and social distance.

The winner of the award, Janak Dhakal, a medicine student from Nepal, was praised for his academic success and his outstanding local and international social engagement. Even before he successfully completed the 2nd state examination, he was doing research for his doctoral thesis entitled: "Investigation of elimination processes for antibodies against adeno-associated viruses (AAV)". Amongst the many ways Mr. Dhakal is socially involved, he founded the student initiative "Learning coaching for international medical students" in 2018 and he is a member of the STUBE Advisory Board and represents the interests of international STUBE participants from Asia. Moreover, at the height of the corona crisis in 2020, Mr. Dhakal campaigned very specifically for the needs of people in his home country of Nepal and helped organize transport of oxygen concentrators for a Nepalese hospital. Prof. Dr. Miesbach also appreciates Mr. Dhakal's expertise in taking a very interdisciplinary approach to his doctoral thesis, as well as his social and professional commitment to sharing his knowledge with fellow students and advancing aspects of sustainability in a globalized context.

2019 - Carly Crane - Master in American Studies

In 2019 the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) award for international students with excellent academic records and social, civic and/ or intercultural commitment was given to Ms. Carly Crane. The ceremony for this award, endowed with 1,000€, will be held on January 22, 2020 at the New Year’s reception of the Goethe Welcome Centre. 

Goethe University awards this DAAD prize since 2002. 7,700 international students from over 130 countries are currently studying at Goethe University. Their diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives are a great enrichment for the academic, social and cultural live at the university. The award wants to recognize that. 

Ms. Crane is doing her master’s degree in American Studies at the Department of English and American Studies. Prof. Dr. Johannes Völz, professor of the Heisenberg program for American Studies, Democracy and Aesthetics, nominated Ms. Crane on behalf of the department. Prof. Völz describes Ms. Crane as a student, who ‘unites literary and cultural expertise with didactic competence and social and political commitment (…) [and] intellectually and socially shapes an academic institution with her commitment’. Besides her excellent academic record, Ms Crane had the chance to present her research results on feminist public concepts in the American contemporary literature to a broad public. At the Schreibzentrum of the Goethe University and the Academic Welcome Centre of the Department of English and American Studies she contributed to counselling and accompaniment of students, doctorate students and teachers as a “Writing Fellow” with her enthusiasm and competence as well as her skills and experiences in academic and creative writing as well as critical analyses of research questions. Furthermore, she enhanced the development of the Schreibzentrum. Her commitment at the department has an impact beyond the Goethe University. Ms. Crane, originally from the United States, holds a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from the Barnard College at the Columbia University. In her home country, she was already committed in different ways to the critical analysis of socio-political topics, especially gender topics.

2018 - Chijioke Kizito Onah – Master in Anglophone Literatures, Cultures and Media

After completing his bachelor’s degree in English Literature, History and International Studies at the University of Nigeria, Mr. Onah continues his studies in Anglophone Literatures, Cultures and Media at Goethe University. In his first two semesters he already achieved excellent academic records (he got a 1,0 in his introductory test and his academic paper). He chose this particular field of studies due to his interest in research on cultural memory and historical investigation on the Biafran war, which his grandparents had to witness and which is a taboo in most parts of the Nigerian society. During his short time in Germany Mr. Onah participated in various conferences on remembrance. Since his arrival in Frankfurt, he has been working as a volunteer for the magazine ‘The African Courier’; there he dedicates himself to intercultural mediation regarding topics that concern the Nigerian society and history. Further, he was invited to write a review in the well-known ‘Journal of Postcolonial Writing’. Right from the beginning, Mr. Onah has been a member of the colloquium of memory research and has received various awards for essays and scholarships, e.g. a full-time scholarship of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Deutschlandstipendium.

Award for Commitment

The award for outstanding commitment in the intercultural context went to Ms. Tisia Ninikelashvili from Georgia. She completed her Studienkolleg in 2014 at the Technical University of Darmstadt and began her bachelor’s studies in Politics at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. Ms. Ninikelashvili is characterized by her socio-political and voluntary commitment. Among others, as a Youth ambassador she represented her home country Georgia as well as the Goethe University in various high-level events around Germany. She took part in Model United Nations in Heidelberg, Munich, Frankfurt am Main and New York, she dedicated herself to discussions and events in the field of development policy of the Protestant Students' Association and was a tutor at the ISZ and the Academic Welcome Program (AWP).

2017 - André Kirsch – Master in Archaeology

Mr. Kirsch, born in Luxembourg, is a student at Goethe University since 2012. In 2017 he completed a double bachelor’s degree in ‘Archaeology and History of Roman Provinces’ and ‘Classical Archaeology”. Currently he continues his studies with a master’s program; afterwards he wants to do his doctoral studies. During his bachelor studies he already released two publications. Prof. Dr. Markus Scholz, director of the department for Archaeologic Sciences nominated Mr. Kirsch due to his high academic achievements and his commitment to the faculty as student representative and as student assistant. Prof. Schulz particularly mentioned his dedication in various associations, which promote integration of German and Luxembourgish students and maintenance of archaeological sites.

2016 - Amine Taktak - Master Computer Sciences

The winner of 2016th DAAD award Amine Taktak originates from Tunisia and was able to convince the award jury especially with his exceptional academic performances during his Master's degree in Computer Sciences. He completed his studies with a double specialisation in System Engineering and Physics and was able to show great engagement in the field of knowledge and research transfer. His master thesis related to a current problem in computer science and was completed in cooperation with a local company, where he had also held a student job position. He started his Bachelor at Goethe-University in the winter semester of 2008, after having completed a Bachelor degree in Economics from Karthago University. While studying at Goethe-University he worked as a student assistant for the Goethe-Centre for Scientific Arithmetics and was characterised by his engagement for the student run „Joint Robotics Lab“ (JRL) by the faculty of Computer Sciences and Mathematics and as a tutor for undergraduate and international students.

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2015 - Rebecca Renee Silva - Master German Literature

Rebecca Silva is of US and Chilean nationality. After a Bachelor’s degree in Maine and two years of professional employment, she decided to further pursue an academic career and in 2013 enrolled at Goethe University for a Master’s degree in German Literature. Rebecca demonstrated exceptional academic skills, astute reasoning and great diligence when collaborating in project groups, research colloquia, and as a tutor. Her outstanding study achievements became apparent in her thesis in the field of empirical literary didactics. Various scholarships and awards (among them the DAAD Alumni Association Excellence Award) as well as her voluntary involvement in educational areas, including in a bilingual primary school and in the project “football meets culture“ to support reading skills in children with a migration background, are further proof that Rebecca is a worthy recipient of the DAAD Award.

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2014 - N’dia Ange Stephano Kouassi - Master Political Science

Mr Kouassi, who is from Ivory Coast and has been living in Germany since 2005, is a student of Political Science with a focus on International Relations. In his Master’s studies, he delved deep into the areas of peace and conflict research as well as political economics and development theory. In particular, the careful selection and execution of various seminar papers made him stand out. Aside from his excellent study achievements, based on which he received a scholarship from the protestant development service (Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst), he worked as an intern with “Bread for the World“ and the GIZ (German Society for International Cooperation) in Kinshasa, DR Kongo. Part of his role as Vice President of the association “Afrika trifft Deutschland e.V.“ was to organise events centred around themes of development policy.

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2013 - Eric Otieno - Bachelor Sociology & Political Science

Eric Otieno is a Bachelor student of Sociology and Political Science from Kenya. Not only has he proved his academic and didactic skills as a tutor and achieved excellence in his studies; he has also attracted attention through his competent contributions to expert discussions. Furthermore, he funded his entire studies on his own and still found time to get involved in social activities, for example as member of the board of the Association of Kenyan students in Hessen and in the STUBE-Hessen programme, which offers support for students from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

2012 - Serena Zanaboni - Master Curatorial Studies

Serena Zanaboni from Italy won over the selection committee with her excellent study achievements and her engagement in cultural matters. After studying History of Art and Modern Literature in Milan, she enrolled in Curatorial Studies at Goethe University. Here in Frankfurt, an outstanding term paper on Dante caught her professor’s attention and led to her nomination as DAAD Laureate. In addition to her studies, Serena works at the Städel and the Goethe-Haus doing provenance research, and for the Klassik Stiftung Weimar. Prior to this, she gathered practical experience working at the Louvre and other renowned institutions all over Europe.

2011: No prize awarded this year

2010 - Arvi-Antti Särkelä - Master Political Theory

Arvi-Antti Särkelä from Finland is a Master’s graduate of Political Theory. He was chosen for the DAAD Award based, in particular, on his Master’s thesis “Intelligence in History. John Dewey’s Theory of Democracy in the Light of his Lectures in China“ which, according to his mentor, may give Political Philospohy entirely new impulses. Arvi-Antti combines theoretical discourse and subject competence with journalistic involvement in socio-political matters, for example as editor of the Swedish edition of “Le Monde Diplomatique“.

2009: No prize awarded this year

2008: Jingjing Chai - Diploma Business Administration

Jingjing Chai has received the highest possible praise for her diploma thesis: 1,0 is a grade awarded to only 5 out of 200 theses mentored by Professor Raimond Maurer. This achievement is indicative of Ms Chai’s academic career. She was always at the top of her economics classes and, after completing her pre-diploma, was recommended for the “Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes“. Now busy with her doctorate, she continues to show impressive results. Ms Chai also works as a tutor, translates for television and offers private tutoring.

2007: Ariunzaya Shagdar - Law

Law student Ariunzaya Shagdar from Mongolia has achieved excellent study results despite the fact that she has to work six days a week to finance her studies. Ariunzaya is also actively engaged in the Mongolian Democratic Party, in trade union work and in the Frankfurt Committee for Legal Advice for Foreigners. She has further impressed the selection committee with her intelligent, well-structured and carefully prepared lectures as a tutor at the Law Faculty.