A Northern Arizona University undergraduate student from Henderson, Nev., is one of only 60 students nationwide named to USA Today’s All-USA College Academic Team program.

Hesham Elnagar, a senior music major in NAU’s Honors Program, was named to the newspaper’s Third Team and is being recognized for his outstanding intellectual achievement and leadership. Students’ names were published in today’s issue of USA Today.

Elnagar was singled out for his research and efforts to promote community service, volunteerism and civic engagement among college students at NAU and beyond. His senior thesis is a proposal to create a service-learning component for NAU’s Honors Program, with the potential to be easily adapted for colleges and universities nationwide.

“This recognition says that Hesham can and will succeed—along with the very best students nationwide—in affecting our communities and universities for the better,” said Anne Scott, professor of English, who nominated Elnagar for the award.

Hundreds of students from colleges and universities across the United States were nominated for the honor and a panel of judges selected 20 students each for the First, Second and Third Teams. Judges considered grades, leadership, activities and, most important, how students extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom.

Elnagar said he was “shocked” after learning of his USA Today recognition. “It’s very flattering, but it also gives me a drive to continue with my work,” he said.

“At NAU, I’ve grown not just as a student, but as a person,” he added. “These last four years have been really transformative and I have a deeper understanding of where my passions lie in life.”

This is the second time an NAU student has been named to the team—in 2006 Robert Buscaglia was the first—and the ranking places Elnagar among some of the nation’s top college and university students.

Only two other Arizona students were recognized by USA Today. Charlene Bashore from Litchfield Park, Ariz. was named to the First Team and Eric Anderson from Phoenix was named to the Second Team. Both attend Arizona State University.

It has been an award-winning season for Elnagar, who earlier this month was recognized as the Distinguished Senior for NAU’s College of Arts and Letters. He also received the university’s Gold Axe Award, as well as the prestigious President’s Prize, considered the highest student recognition from the university.

Criteria for the All-USA College Academic Team were developed in consultation with USA Today’s education co-sponsors: the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the American Council on Education and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. A panel of educators, chosen in cooperation with co-sponsors, selected the winners.