James Suleyman ’24 was honored with the Dr. Christopher Joyner Memorial Award for Outstanding Student among the fall class of the Lutheran College Washington Semester program, a partnership of 13 colleges that allows students to spend a full semester living and interning in D.C.
Suleyman, a criminal justice and sociology double major, was nominated for the title by his peers and professors in the program. The award recognizes a student who demonstrates academic excellence, inquisitiveness in the classroom and a commitment to learning in all aspects of life.
In announcing Suleyman as the winner, Washington Semester leaders said he stood out for his impressive writing skills, his ability to engage with the curriculum and his knack for helping fellow students consider issues from new perspectives.
“In addition to his academic contributions, James brought a spirit of compassion and inclusion to the semester,” said Edward Hasecke, dean and executive director of the program. “He volunteered at Community Mediation DC in his free time and was seen by his peers as someone who helped bring the group together. James made a significant impact on the program, and we are excited to see what his future holds.”
During his semester in D.C., Suleyman interned for a nonprofit, Offender Aid and Restoration, where he helped coordinate services for people transitioning out of incarceration.
He said the work taught him both how complex the system is and how to dig in to find ways to make it work for vulnerable communities.
“I'd say I’ve become a lot more resourceful,” he said during an interview while in D.C. “Realizing that there isn’t always an easy solution to a problem or that the solution isn’t going to be handed to you on a silver platter. You have to go and find it yourself. You have to research and learn where local resources can be found, which I’m enjoying.”
Suleyman hopes to work with children in restorative justice initiatives after graduation. His experience in D.C. was made possible by the donor-supported Fowler Legacy Program.
“I’m so glad I got to be part of this program,” he said. “I would encourage any student to try it and take advantage of the opportunities it offers. There is something here for everyone.”
Roanoke College was one of three original founding schools that created the Lutheran College Washington Semester consortium in 1986. In addition to interning with nonprofits, government agencies and other organizations, Washington Semester students take classes and engage in trips to cultural and historical sites.
The Dr. Christopher Joyner Memorial Award for Outstanding Student is named in memory of a celebrated professor and longtime supporter of the program. Dr. Joyner taught at Georgetown University and was a dedicated scholar who published extensively, served on more than a dozen editorial boards and was vice chair of the American Council on the United Nations. His wife, Nancy Joyner, was dean and executive director of the Lutheran College Washington Semester for 27 years.