Students Receive Inaugural Hispanic Studies Scholarship
March 26, 2014
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Two Illinois Wesleyan students, Thalia Novoa ‘16 Hispanic Studies
major of Marquette Heights, Ill. and Huyen Nguyen ’17 international business major
of Arlington Heights, Ill., are the first winners selected by the Hispanic Studies
Department for its inaugural Luis Leal Endowed Scholarship. This is a competitive,
two-part award given to qualified students who carry out Hispanic Studies research
while enrolled in an IWU-affiliated program off-campus.
Novoa, who will receive $1,000 for her study abroad research in Ecuador in the fall
of 2014, said, “I chose this program because Ecuador is multicultural and multilingual.
I plan to do my research on how the geography of the indigenous affects their self-esteem
and their education. My goal is to start a movement so that every minority has the
same opportunities regardless of where they live.”
Nguyen plans to improve her Spanish skills both culturally and linguistically while
participating in the IWU Spain program in the spring of 2015. For her research endeavors,
she will receive $250, and will document and share her experiences with the campus
“As an international business major, I want to hopefully work for an international
corporation based in an Hispanic country,” said Nguyen.
According to the Hispanic Studies Department webpage, the 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 the Department of Hispanic Studies and IWU carry in their mission statements.”
A native of Mexico, Leal was a very prominent critic of Mexican, Chicano and Latin
American literature. He was grateful for the institutional support he received to
pursue higher education in the United States. He has been credited as one of the first
critics to teach the works of Latin American and Chicano writers as part of the Spanish
curriculum, and for this Leal was given the Distinguished Scholarly Award from the
National Association of Chicano Studies.
For his service to his community and academic achievements, Leal was awarded the United
States National Humanities Medal. He also received the highest honor the Mexican government
awards foreign citizens – the Aztec Eagle.
For additional information regarding the scholarship, contact Sherry Wallace, director
for news and media relations at (309) 556-3792, or see other undergraduate research scholarship opportunities at Illinois Wesleyan.
Contact: Hannah Dhue, ’15, (309) 556-3181, firstname.lastname@example.org