I have been offered an award to be presented to me at my graduation this summer at an English university. The award is not for academic achievement per se. It's for gaining my science degree despite having suffered significant illness at a crucial point in my degree. The award is for a student who has overcome a significant obstacle (which could be anything) and successfully completed.
Specifically because the cause of my problem was illness, this nomination has made me feel acutely self-conscious (even before I've received it). I've spoken to student friends and family about it. They all give predictable advice - "we understand, but accept the award, it's good for your CV!". Any possible benefit to my "CV" doesn't begin to enter the calculus for me.
This was a significant illness, and I struggled hard to be "normal" again. This award would make it hard to feel that way. I would find an allusion to this episode, particularly on a day such as graduation, rather difficult to handle. I doubt very much that the specific motivation for the award would be stated at the ceremony, but even so...
I realise my academic department are trying to be generous towards me and recognise my efforts with this award. It is a good university and they care about their students. I am going on to postgraduate study at the same university. The award is sponsored by an alumnus who themselves had a significant problem during their studies. Can I decline politely or is this a no-no? Could it be seen as self-indulgent to decline?
Update: I wanted to thank all of the posters here for empathic, thoughtful and surprisingly non-judgemental answers. This is clearly a well-regulated and insightful community.
Many of these answers conflict, and some posters have admonished others, but I wanted you to know that I have read everything carefully, that I am open to seeing this from all perspectives, and that I have found almost all answers and replies helpful.