BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Yesenia Martinez Calderon ’20 (Chicago) and Nicholas Milcik ’20
(Bloomington, Ill.) are this year’s recipients of the IWU Luis Leal Endowed Scholarship to support their respective research in Chile and Spain.
The scholarship is awarded by the Illinois Wesleyan University Hispanic Studies Department to two qualified Hispanic Studies students engaging in off-campus research through
an IWU-affiliated program, during which the students will document and share their
A Hispanic Studies and secondary education double major, Calderon will engage with
the educational system in Chile as well as the surrounding culture.
“One thing I want to learn from studying abroad in Chile is putting social justice
conversations into actual research,” Calderon said. “I have always wanted to help
people and learn their stories, so I am conscious of how other people live and what
things make them unique.”
Meanwhile, an ocean away from Latin America, Milcik looks forward to fully immersing
himself in the language and culture of Spain.
“While abroad, I hope to achieve both lingual fluency in the Spanish language and
the degree of cultural competency I consider to be an essential part of a liberal
arts education, by engaging directly with global diversity on a daily basis.”
Milcik, a Hispanic Studies and physics double major, has engaged with the campus community
as a competitor on the IWU Ethics Bowl team and as vice president of the IWU Society of Physics Students (SPS). In addition, Milcik spent the summer of his freshman year interning at the
Geriatrics Research Lab at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
The scholarship is named in honor of Luis Leal (1907-2010), one of the foremost critics
of Mexican, Chicano and Latin American literature.
“As a first-generation Chicana student, I felt connected to this kind of legacy,”
“I am truly honored that the Hispanic Studies department has chosen me for the award,”
Milcik added. “I plan to use their support to further Dr. Leal's mission of incorporating
Latin American and Chicano literature into U.S. education.”