Student selected for Lincoln Laureate Award

Bianca Leon Selected for Lincoln Laureate Award

From helping students sharpen their writing skills, to learning the finer points of philanthropy, Bianca Leon has pursued a wide spectrum of interests during her time at Dominican University.

Leon, a rising senior with a double major in Italian and international relations and diplomacy, is the recipient of a 2023-24 Lincoln Laureate Award. The award is an honor given to students at colleges and universities across Illinois who exemplify outstanding community service and academic achievement, with an ability to overcome obstacles to achieve excellence.

Leon will be formally recognized during the 49th Annual Student Laureate award ceremony this fall in Springfield.

“I was completely blown way that I was chosen, and I feel fortunate that I was nominated,” Leon said.

A first-generation college student, Leon works in Dominican’s Academic Success Center as a writing fellow, offering students one-on-one support and helping them build their confidence and recognize their potential as writers. She is also a student assistant in the university’s Accommodations and Disability Access Department, helping connect students with resources and accommodations.

“Bianca has contributed immensely to our community of learners here at Dominican,” wrote Jennifer Stockdale, director of Academic Success, in her nomination of Leon. “Bianca sees the strengths and potential of every student.”

During her sophomore year, Leon joined Dominican’s Ministry en lo Cotidiano faith-based service program where she helped members of the Melrose Park community — particularly immigrants and those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — navigate the application process for rent and household utility assistance.

“I found a community there and I loved helping,” Leon said.

She has served as president of Dominican’s Model United Nations Club and is a Mazzuchelli Honors student. She is also the recipient of an URSCI Summer Scholar grant to conduct an independent research project exploring obstacles impacting women and children in Italy and the U.S.

“These aspects of student involvement and success that Bianca has been working on at DU are all areas that Lincoln had a passion for – diplomacy and debate, the written word, and advocating for those in need,” wrote professors Patrick Homan, David Dolence, Tonia Triggiano and Veena Carlson in their joint nomination of Leon.

Outside the university, Leon volunteered for an immigration law office, helping to prepare and translate legal documents for clients, giving her insight into their lives and the challenges they face seeking to remain in the United States.

During the summer of 2022, with help from Brennan School of Business, she obtained an internship with Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, working in donor relations and fundraising. She shared her experiences in this role during Dominican’s Scholarship and Ideas Expo in April.

“I didn’t know a lot about philanthropy when I started, but I learned so much,” Leon shared.

After completing her degree at Dominican, Leon has her sights set on a career with a human rights focus.

“I’d like to work with a non-profit on the human security aspect of it, maybe with refugees or children, for a couple of years, and then hopefully go on to law school,” she said.

By Guadalupe Rodriguez
Guadalupe Rodriguez