IWU Luis Leal Scholarship Fund

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Luis Leal Endowed Scholarship - Deadline, April 15

The Hispanic Studies program of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Illinois Wesleyan University is able to offer competitive scholarships to qualified students who carry out Hispanic Studies research off-campus in the U.S. or abroad while enrolled in an IWU-affiliated program. Two awards are available annually for approximately $1000 and for $250, respectively. Students awarded scholarships commit to documenting and sharing their research during and/or after the off- campus experience.

Luis Leal was one of the foremost critics of Mexican, Chicano and Latin American Literature. He was born in Mexico to a modest family, but decided to further his education in the United States. He was always grateful for the institutional support he received.

He was always a dedicated generous teacher, who made everybody feel included in his classes regardless of age, gender, abilities or background. Racial equality was extremely important to him and he committed to it in his personal and professional life. Along those lines, he is known for being among the first critics to teach Latin American and Chicano writers, both as part of the Spanish curriculum and as independent fields in their own right. In recognition of his founding role in the field of Latina/o Studies, he received the Distinguished Scholarly Award from the National Association of Chicano Studies.

It has been said that for Leal, “criticism was almost exclusively preoccupied with community.” In recognition of his community involvement and his academic contributions, Leal received the United States National Humanities Medal. Additionally, the Mexican government awarded him the Aztec Eagle, its highest award for foreign citizens. This scholarship is named for Dr. Leal because throughout his life he realized his own individual intellectual potential and fostered that goal in others by living and teaching within a framework of social justice, global citizenship, and respect for diverse communities, values that both World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and IWU carry in their mission statements


Would you like to donate to this important fund? In appreciation for your donation, you will receive a copy of Mitos y leyendas de Mxico, Myths and Legends of Mexico, a bilingual collection of 20 popular legends recreated by the author, Luis Leal, and edited by Prof. Mauricio Parra. The book also includes original illustrations by acclaimed Mexican painter lvaro ngeles Suman. To receive a copy of this book with your donation, please fill out this form.

Scholarship recipients:

2020: Avalon Bruno ('22) and Colleen Palczynski (’22)

2019: Jessa Salvador ('22)

2018: Yesenia Martinez-Calderon ('20) and Nicholas Milcik ('20)

2017: Connor Simmons ('19)

2016: Kaitlyn O'Brien ('19) and Rachel Aron ('16)

2015: Martha Aguirre ('17) - her documentary/final course project in Chile

2014: Thalia Novoa ('16) and Huyen Nguyen ('17)