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Academic Awards

An Otis education is widely known for its academic rigor and educational excellence.  The College recognizes the highest level of achievement with the Valedictory Award, Academic Excellence Awards, Distinction in Studio Awards, and Honors.

Types of Awards:

  • Valedictorian: An honor given to one of the Academic Excellenec Award recipients.
  • Academic Excellence Award: An honor given to UG and GRD students (UGs eligible only if they are on the Honor's list).
  • Honors: An honor given to graduating seniors (UG only) who achieve a 3.5 GPA or higher as of Spring semester.
  • Dean's List: An honor given to all who achieve a 3.5 GPA or higher in a particular semester.

2022 Valedictory Award

Haruaka Yamaoto PortraitFashion Design major Haruka Yamamoto has been named Valedictorian of the Class of 2022. This award is bestowed annually on the member of the senior class whose work represents the pinnacle of academic excellence. This graduate receives a special medallion and presents an address to be included in this year's Commencement recognition. Haruka was chosen for their continuously stellar academic performance throughout her Otis College career and the exceptional quality of their studio work. 

From an early age, Haruko has been fascinated by the potential of style in expressing people’s aesthetic and identity and remains motivated by their passion for developing the concept of cultural identity and individuality. Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Haruka culls from Japanese cultural tradition and philosophy as she finds her voice and furthers her aesthetic. Guided by the proverb, “Hard work always pays off,” introduced by her mother, Haruka looks to continue her education post-Otis by studying Fashion Management in Europe. 

A talented, considerate, profoundly investigative, and devoted designer that brings out the best in her classmates, instructors, the Fashion Design department, and larger Otis communities, Haruka is truly an asset to Otis College. Samples of her work may be seen here. You can also view the Valedictorian Commencement address here.

2022 Academic Excellence Awards

The Academic Excellence Award is the highest honor given to graduating students in a major program. Selections are made by program leaders and faculty, and affirmed by the College’s academic awards committee. Criteria include a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher (for undergraduates), quality of work, personal character, and contributions to Otis and the larger community. These students wear a special purple cord at the Commencement ceremony.



The 2022 Academic Excellence Award recipients are:
Galen Gaze, Communication Arts with an emphasis in Illustration
Yaritza Velazquez-Medina, Communication Arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design
Jaimie Yoo, Digital Media with an emphasis in Motion Design
Ireen Chau, Digital Media with an emphasis in Animation
Kaitlyn Nguyen, Digital Media with an emphasis in Game and Entertainment Design
Jean Juan, Environmental Design
Haruka Yamamoto, Fashion Design
Suhey Alejandra Elias, Fine Arts with an emphasis in Painting
Angelica Rose Baty, Fine Arts with an emphasis in Photography
Meka Tome, Fine Arts with an emphasis in Sculpture New Genres
Travis Hyatt, Product Design  
Shanshan Li, Toy Design

Leo Alas, Graduate Fine Art
Emma Godfrey, Graduate Graphic Design

2022 Distinction in Studio Awards

Communication Arts Distinction in Studio Award
Edgar Casarin: Comm Arts; Graphic Design emphasis
Gaby Tijerina: Comm Arts; Illustration emphasis

Environmental Design Awards for Excellence in Design
Studio 1 Fall 2021 and Spring 2022
Isaiah Levels

Studio 2 Summer 2021 and Spring 2022
Christian Rose

Studio 3 Summer and Fall 2021
Bianca Wong Milano 

Studio 4 Summer 2021 and Spring 2022
Cindy Xu

Studio 5 Fall 2021
Josh Valentine 

Studio 6 Spring 2022
Cindy Xu

Toy Design Distinction in Studio Award
Richie Gov
Miffy Huang

Fine Arts Distinction in Studio Awards

Vivian Chuang
Cassie Miller
Michael Wolf
Samantha Mesa
Leila Al Jazzaf
Michelle Barrett

Dionna Smith 
Angelica Baty 

Sculpture/New Genres
Olivia Albritton
Peter Larson
Kate Schofield
Indigo Britton
Meka Tome  
Kalia Wells
Emma Diffley  – Out of Bounds Award

MFA Graphic Design Distinction in Studio Award
Zahra Le Breton

MFA Fine Art Distinction in Studio Award
Larry Li

Honors List

An honor given to graduating seniors (Undergraduate only) who achieve a 3.5 GPA or higher as of Spring semester. 

Dean's List

Students whose cumulative grade point average is 3.5 or higher earn a place on the Dean's List.

Academic Awards Archive

2014  |  2015  |  2016  |  2017  |  2018  |  2019  |  2020  |  2021

Student Leadership Awards

Otis College of Art and Design recognizes outstanding student leaders, student groups, and student organizations every year through Student Leadership Awards. These awards aim to honor student contributions which have enhanced our Otis College Campus Community. The following students were nominated for Student Leadership Awards by their peers, faculty, supervisors, or by student affairs professionals that they work with. The Student Leadership Committee has reviewed all nominations and determined the winners.

Yessica Kim

Outstanding Contribution to the College Award

Yessica Kim: Outstanding Contribution to the College Award recognizes a graduating Otis College student who has provided outstanding contributions on campus and/or beyond the campus community. Some examples include students who have organized or led initiatives, served or volunteered on campus in ways that made a positive impact, or other service activities beyond the campus community.

Nomination: "Yessica Kim has shown an outstanding achievement at Otis college for 4 years. She has worked as a former TISO for 2 years and dedicated time to the international students at Otis. Not only has she participated as a leader at Otis, but also she has received awards including dean's list, and the WIT (women in toys) award, proving that she has worked well during her school year."

Gabriela Masso-Isern

Spirited Owl Award

Gabi Masso-Isern: The Spirited Owl Award recognizes a graduating Otis College student who is recognized by their peers and faculty for their positive spirit, kindness, passion, and enthusiasm. This award is given to a student who has been actively engaged in representing Otis College through their determination, creativity, innovation, and drive. 

Nomination: "Gabi has dedicated and committed many years supporting students and providing a welcoming and energizing community at Otis. Through her previous and current student leadership roles as a Peer Mentor and Campus Activities Board member, she is actively finding new ways to make students feel connected to the Otis Community. She undoubtedly exudes the Otis spirit with her determination, creativity, and innovation."

Jamila Koch

Student Leader of the Year

Jamila Koch

Student Leader of the Year is someone who wholly reflects the mission of the Otis College Student Leadership Program: "Otis College of Art and Design student leaders are devoted to enriching students’ experiences on campus by providing them with a network of support and guidance, developing interactive programming, and fostering a friendly and diverse community that is built on respect". This person has worked hard to support and engage the Otis College student body, has thrived for excellence, and has served their community with enthusiasm, dedication, flexibility, and inclusiveness.

Nomination: "Jamila serves as a member of the Food Committee and they have gone above and beyond in their participation and contributions to this committee. Before every Committee meeting, Jamila would connect with their peers to gather feedback and add the feedback to the agendas. I am deeply grateful for Jamila's leadership"

Additionally, Jamila served as a Resident Assistant and Women in Animation President during the 2021-22 academic year. 

Outstanding Club/Organization of the Year:

Women in Animation (WIA)

Women in Animation (WIA

The Otis College Club/Organization of the Year Award recognizes the student organization that has demonstrated innovation, collaboration, creativity, inclusiveness, initiative, and teamwork. The club/organization that is honored for this award is made up of leaders who are passionate about bringing the community together and creating meaningful opportunities for Otis College students to learn and build connections. This organization is considered a role model for other organizations on campus.


The Women in Animation (WIA) receives special recognition for their excellent work in supporting its members and contributing to our campus community. This student-led organization provided opportunities for professional development and interactive and meaningful programming. They also planned events that took students off-campus to grow their skills. This club's contributions to Otis College and Student Life has made a lasting impact, and their legacy will surely thrive and grow here at Otis College.