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Last modified: Friday, March 30, 2012

IU Bloomington student Alicia Nieves named Truman Scholar

March 30, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Alicia Nieves, a junior at Indiana University Bloomington, has been named a Truman Scholar for 2012, a distinguished honor granted to only a few dozen undergraduate students across the country.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie surprised Nieves with the news on Thursday, March 29, during a meeting in Bryan Hall. The scholarship provides up to $30,000 in funding for graduate-level education in fields related to public service.

"Alicia combines a passionate commitment to social justice and community engagement with a dedication to scholarship at the highest level," McRobbie said. "She challenges all those around her to find ways to make the world a better place. We are extremely pleased to have her as a student at Indiana University and proud that the Truman Foundation has selected her for this prestigious award."

Madeleine Albright, president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and a former U.S. secretary of state, announced the names of 54 Truman Scholars from 48 states today.

Nieves, a native of northwestern Indiana, is majoring in political science and in human migration studies through the Individualized Major Program, both within the IU College of Arts and Sciences. An IU Wells Scholar, she is the 18th Indiana University student to be named a Truman Scholar.

"It's such an honor," she said of the Truman Scholarship. "It is also a tremendous opportunity. I look forward to meeting with other Truman Scholars and working to provide better answers to the problems we see in America today."

Growing up in East Chicago, Ind., in a family of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, Nieves developed a passion about issues facing undocumented immigrants in the U.S. While many of her own relatives had limited access to higher education, strong support from her parents allowed her to find her own way to the necessary scholarships to attend Indiana University. She then reached out to others, offering a roadmap and encouragement through the HOPE College-Bound summer program.

Nieves co-founded DREAM @ IU, a student coalition that advocates for the federal DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to legal status for qualified students. She also co-founded the Indiana Student Coalition for Immigrant Rights, a network of student groups committed to achieving equality for migrant communities. The organization worked for the DREAM Act and lobbied against anti-immigrant legislation in the Indiana General Assembly.

"Nieves is already an accomplished leader who is deeply committed to her goal of re-conceiving American policies on immigration," said Judy Failer, associate professor of political science and chair of the IU Truman Scholarship Committee. "She has set her sights further than immigration reform, however. She ultimately aspires to ensure just treatment for all disadvantaged members of our community through reforms and advocacy in civil law, criminal law and civil society."

A Hudson and Holland Scholar, Nieves was a summer intern with the IU Office of Sustainability and conducted research through the IU McNair Scholars Program on the role of media in shaping public perceptions of immigrants and immigration policy. She has worked as a resident assistant for IU Residential Programs and Services, an archivist for the IU Division of Recreational Sports and a teacher's assistant for the School City of Hammond. She is an associate justice for the IU Student Body Supreme Court.

She hopes to attend law school and work in the areas of immigration policy and providing legal and other services for immigrants.

The Truman Scholarship is an extremely competitive scholarship, with the foundation reviewing more than 600 nominations each year before selecting 60 to 65 scholars, including one from each state. In addition to funding for graduate education, it provides assistance with career counseling, internship placement, graduate school admissions and professional development. Scholars are invited to participate in programs such as Truman Scholar Leadership Week, The Summer Institute and The Truman-Albright Fellows Program.