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Senior Named to USA Today Academic First Team

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February 15, 2006

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Michael Chanin, a Northwestern University senior, has been named to USA Today’s 2006 All-USA College Academic First Team.

The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences student from Macon, Ga., is among 20 students honored by the newspaper today (Feb. 15).

They were selected in the 17th annual undergraduate recognition program from more than 600 nominees to receive trophies and $2,500 cash awards as representatives of all outstanding students.

First Team members have excelled in the classroom, averaging above a 3.9 grade-point average while earning 33 undergraduate majors and a master's degree. They have extended their education beyond the lab and lecture hall, and most have studied or worked abroad,

Two other Northwestern students were honored by USA Today. Blake Bible of Chicago, a School of Communication senior majoring in communications and legal studies, was named to the College Academic Third Team. He co-founded and directs StartingBloc, training students to be socially and ethically responsible leaders. Jodi Anderson of White Bear Lake, Minn., a senior in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, received an honorable mention.

As a sophomore, Chanin, 22, co-founded the Northwestern Conference on Human Rights, which featured a keynote by former United Nations ambassador Richard Holbrooke. The conference is now an annual event. Chanin chaired last year's conference on American policy toward AIDS in developing countries, with a keynote by Doctors Without Borders founder Bernard Kouchner.

Chanin, who serves on the International Youth Volunteerism Summit executive committee, is also co-chair of an upcoming conference on human trafficking that includes a semester-long academic course, an art exhibit and film festival.

He also is active in Students Helping Organize Awareness of the Holocaust and the NU Darfur Action Coalition. He has served as a research assistant for the directors of three different academic programs and wrote "The Fate of Jim Crow," published in The Undergraduate Quarterly

Chanin told USA Today that he became involved in human rights issues from an ideological standpoint, but the reality of organizing the conference means making calls, reserving rooms, scheduling meetings, speaking to groups and raising tens of thousands of dollars.

"Not everyone says yes, but if you're honest and open, and someone can see you're genuine about working on an issue that very few people disagree with, it's not that hard to get people to rally around you," he told USA Today.