Diane Geng Honored with Making a Difference Award

Sep 28 2016

NYU President Andrew Hamilton has bestowed NYU’s first-ever “Making a Difference” awards, which recognize members of the NYU community whose profound and lasting efforts are leaving a positive impact on the world.

Among the recipients were Diane Geng, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at NYU Shanghai, and Wei Ji Ma, Professor of neural science and psychology in NYU’s Faculty of Arts and Science, for their work in establishing and maintaining the Rural China Education Foundation.

“I came to see that even if you had a very nice school building and books and computers, how the teachers were using that and what the goals of education were, are more at the heart of improving quality,” said Geng, who discovered her interest in rural development and rural education in China as a study abroad student in Beijing.

The Foundation works on the belief that education is a long-term endeavor and that investing in teachers is crucial. Rural teachers are trained appropriately, gaining resources and a network that aids in developing more student-centered and community-based teaching methods and curriculum.

“We want students to be active learners and to take control of their own education so that they can become people who make a positive impact on their communities and promote rural development,” said Geng.

Other recipients of NYU’s first “Make a Difference” award were Professor Olugbenga G. Ogedegbe, a physician and Vice Dean of NYU’s College of Global Public Health, for his health research and outreach in the U.S. and Africa; alumnus Scott Harrison, founder of the nonprofit “charity: water,” who has provided over 6 million people with clean water; and The Mercy Project--a sentencing relief initiative founded by the NYU School of Law’s Center on the Administration of Criminal Law and conducted by NYU Law students.