Barry McNamara  |   Published October 18, 2018

‘Extremely Engaging, Interested and Humble’

Sobhi Kazmouz, ‘the embodiment of a liberal arts education,’ chosen as Monmouth’s Lincoln Laureate.
  • Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt congratulates Sobhi Kazmouz on being named the College’s Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – An exemplary student with a personality to match has been selected as this year’s Lincoln Laureate at Monmouth College.

Sobhi Kazmouz, a senior biochemistry major originally from Syria, was nominated by several members of the campus community to be Monmouth’s 2018 Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Every fall, an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award and becomes a Student Laureate of the academy. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and cocurricular activities.

“Sohbi is extremely engaging, interested and humble, and very possibly the best well-rounded student who has come through our program,” wrote chemistry professor Brad Sturgeon.

Added another chemistry professor, Laura Moore: “What really makes him exemplary is his ability to work with others. He treats all with compassion and understanding that come from a maturity that is rarely found in a college student.”

Moore also noted Kazmouz’s research talents, which included being selected to work last summer at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, where he was matched with Dr. Jerome Ritz’s lab at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Kazmouz worked on a project to monitor the immune profiles of bone marrow transplant patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease.

“He is incredible at research and eloquent in his explanations of his research,” wrote Moore. Sturgeon added, “Sohbi has the ability to recognize the complexity of his research and to be able to present this data seamlessly to a general audience.”

Kazmouz said he hopes to become a medical doctor, working in immunology or oncology

“I really love the process of scientific discovery and research,” he said. “Even before coming to Monmouth, I was inspired to pursue that path by my parents. My mother is a dentist, and my father is a doctor.”

Attending college in the United States has been everything Kazmouz hoped it would be.

“The experience has been eye-opening,” he said. “I’ve learned about a new culture and new people. My research with Dr. Moore has really taught me about critical thinking and thinking outside the box.”

“I really love the process of scientific discovery and research.”
Sobhi Kazmouz, Lincoln Laureate

With Moore, Kazmouz has worked on site-directed mutagenesis and protein assays as well as studied the effect of different interactions on protein structure of the E. coli FNR transcription factor.

Outside of the classroom, Kazmouz has served in many leadership roles on campus, including co-president of the Pre-Health Society, supplemental instructor for General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry, member of the editorial board for the Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research, and international student orientation leader. A resident assistant for two years, Kazmouz is a member of two honor societies – Alpha Lambda Delta and Mortar Board – and has volunteered at the local hospital.

Although Kazmouz has risen to the top of his class, he didn’t think it would turn out that way, especially when he headed east over the summer to work at Harvard.

“I was a bit intimidated by the experience,” he said. “I was worried that I might not live up to expectations. I’ve since learned that it’s actually good to make mistakes, because you can learn from them.”

As Kazmouz finishes his time at Monmouth, he will continue the research he’s been doing with Moore since his freshman year. He will also work on his medical school applications.

“I don’t have a particular place in mind, although it would be really good to go back to Boston,” he said. “That was a friendly environment, and they were really supportive of their students.”

His nominators think he will be as outstanding in his career as he has been as a Monmouth student.

“He is the embodiment of a liberal arts education, both a scientist and a humanitarian,” wrote philosophy and religious studies professor Anne Mamary. “I imagine patients loving him both for what will be his diagnostic skill and for his bedside manner.”

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