Alumni Awards

2024 Alumni Awards Reception and Ceremony

Register for this year's Alumni Awards reception and ceremony will be held on Friday, May 17. 


  • 5:30 p.m., Alumni Awards and Longtime Faculty and Staff Reception
    John and Victoria Rogers Lobby, Gordon Parks Arts Hall
  • 6:30 p.m., Lab Alumni Awards ceremony
    Griffin Auditorium, Gordon Parks Arts Hall 

Register here

Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award

Lab’s highest alumni honor, this award celebrates the accomplishments of alumni across spheres of professional and personal achievement, public and civic service, and philanthropic and volunteer engagement.

María Hinojosa

The 2024 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner

María Hinojosa ’79

María Hinojosa graduated from Lab and attended Barnard College. She is founder, president, and CEO of Futuro Media Group, established in 2010 as an independent, nonprofit newsroom based in Harlem, New York City, with the mission to create multimedia content from a POC (people of color) perspective. She has informed millions about the changing cultural and political landscape in America and abroad as the anchor and executive producer of the Peabody Award-winning show Latino USA, co-host of Futuro Media’s award-winning political podcast In the Thick, and, most recently, her Pulitzer Prize-winning podcast Suave. Hinojosa has won four Emmys, The John Chancellor Award, two Robert F. Kennedy Awards, and the Overseas Press Club Edward R. Murrow Award. She is the author of four books: Crews, Raising Raul, Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America, and The Young Reader's version of her memoir Once I Was You. These days her focus is deep accountability investigative journalism. 

Ralph Hruban

The 2024 Distinguished Alumnus Award Winner

Ralph H. Hruban ’77, AB’81

Ralph H. Hruban, is a professor of pathology and oncology, and the Baxley Professor and Director of the Department of Pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is also the director of the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center. After graduating from the Laboratory Schools, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago (’81) and then his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1985.  

Ralph has devoted his academic career to the study of pancreatic cancer. He has made significant contributions to our understanding of why pancreatic cancer runs in some families, and to the genetic drivers of pancreatic cancer in the general population. 

Ralph is the author of over 900 scientific papers and he has authored or edited twelve books. He is recognized as one of the top one hundred most highly cited scientists in the world, and in 2013 was inducted into the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. He has received a number of awards, including the Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research from the American Association for Cancer Research; and five teaching awards from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Ralph is deeply dedicated to serving and educating the public. Ralph feels a deep debt of gratitude to the extraordinary teachers he had at the Laboratory  Schools, and often speaks of the unique creative environment that defines the school. 

Erwin Chemerinsky

Erwin Chemerinsky ’71

XinQi Dong

XinQi Dong ’90, AB’94


Charis Eng ’80, AB’82, PhD’86, MD’88


Rising Star Professional Achievement Award

The Rising Star Professional Achievement Award recognizes Lab alumni who have graduated within the last 30 years and have made an impact in their field.

Zachary Kleiman

The 2024 Rising Star Professional Achievement Award Winner

Zachary Z. Kleiman ’06

Zachary Z. Kleiman is the president and general manager of basketball operations of the Memphis Grizzlies. In this role, he oversees and manages all basketball matters, including professional and amateur scouting, draft preparations, player acquisitions and salary cap management. He was recognized as the NBA Basketball Executive of the Year, becoming the youngest recipient of the award, after Memphis tied its club record with fifty-six wins during the 2021–22 season.

Prior to joining the Grizzlies in 2015 as the team’s in-house legal counsel, Kleiman practiced law at Proskauer Rose, where he represented clients in the sports industry—including the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball—in connection with an array of corporate matters.

Kleiman began his career in professional sports with internships with the then-Charlotte Bobcats (basketball operations), Oakland Raiders (legal), Los Angeles Lakers (public relations) and New York Knicks (basketball operations). He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southern California and his JD from Duke University School of Law. Kleiman also serves on the Board of Directors of CodeCrew, a Memphis-based nonprofit organization, as well as the Duke Law Alumni Association Board of Directors. 


Alumni Service Award

The Alumni Service Award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the Laboratory Schools and the alumni community.

Miguel de la Cerna

The 2024 Alumni Service Award Winner

Miguel de la Cerna ’78

Miguel de la Cerna jump-started his music career while attending Lab when he was tapped by the famed opera star and teacher, Gisela Goettling, to accompany her vocal students. He was then asked by Dom Piane and Lucy Ambrosini to play the piano chair in the high school musical Godspell. He studied at the American Conservatory while at Lab and attended Oberlin after graduating. He has since emerged as a world-renowned composer, arranger/music director and, as described in 2023 Chicago Jazz Festival program, “the best singer’s pianist around.” 

His professional return to Lab started with a request by Mr. Piane to teach a master class for the high school jazz ensemble. From there he and Mr. Piane organized and produced the popular alumni jam session bridging generations of Lab musicians and performers. In 2013, he returned to conduct and music direct Godspell for the high school. He has returned annually from that point to direct and conduct musicals for the U-High theater program. Miguel is also thrilled to accompany Lobby Sing with the preschoolers, working with young students who might lead Lab into the next millennium. 

Miguel serves as music director for the Jazz Institute of Chicago’s eclectic JazzCity concert series, bringing jazz and world music to concert venues and neighborhoods throughout Chicagoland. A trustee of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, he currently serves as Chair of the Education Committee.

Miguel’s daughter Isabella, a Lab-lifer, graduated in 2021.