Saturday, October 16, 2021
7 p.m. cst
The Golden Gala is NEIU's annual celebration of outstanding alumni and it raises resources that increase scholarship and program support for our students. In this unique year, we are asking our most loyal friends to join us for a virtual NEIU Golden Gala and Alumni Awards Ceremony.
While it's not the same as being together in person, we have an exciting program to share! We want you to dress up, grab a drink and join us in celebration of NEIU's outstanding alumni and students. Best yet, there is no charge to attend the gala this year.
You can help us achieve our goal during this year's Golden Gala and Alumni Awards Celebration by:
- Sign up as an Ambassador and help raise funds towards a scholarship of your choice or start a new scholarship. Get inspired and inspire others to give. Learn more
- Invite others to join us for the live broadcast NEIU Golden Gala and Alumni Awards program. Hosting a virtual event allows us to reach more people and spread awareness about NEIU and its incredible students and community.
- Bid on an Auction Item: Bid on one of several incredible auction items.
- Use social media as a platform to help promote this year's gala and awardees.
- Dress up. Order dessert and champagne and join us for the live broadcast.
2021 ALUMNI AWARD WINNERS
Miguel del Valle
Distinguished Alumnus Award
B.A. 1974 Secondary Education-Spanish; M.A. 1977 Guidance and Counseling
In 2006, Mr. del Valle was appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley as City Clerk of Chicago, and subsequently won a citywide election to the post in 2007, becoming the first Latino elected to the office of City Clerk.
In 1986, Mr. del Valle was elected the first Latino Senator in the Illinois General Assembly where he served for 20 years. He became an Assistant Majority Leader, and served as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Consumer Affairs Committee, and Senate Select Committee on Education Funding Reform. He served as Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Committee, and member of the Revenue, Appropriations, Labor, and Executive Committees. He also was the co-founder of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus and a member of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.
Before running for public office, del Valle worked with several community-based agencies, organizing and providing direct services and institution building. He was Unit Director for the Union League Foundation for Boys and Girls Clubs, and Executive Director of Association House, a human services agency in Chicago. He also did work for the Pilsen Little Village Community Mental Health Center and the Center for Neighborhood Technology.
Mr. del Valle is a graduate of Chicago Public Schools and holds a M.A. in Guidance and Counseling from Northeastern Illinois University. He is married to Lupe del Valle, and has four children and four grandchildren. Three of his children attended Jose de Diego Community Academy, and one graduated from Lane Tech. All four of his grandchildren have or are currently attending Chicago Public Schools.
Alumni Service Award
B.A. 1982 Secondary Education, Physical Education
Laura Dojutrek Stock was born and raised in Chicago with her twin sister who has a Learning Disability and Aphasia. Laura attended NEIU from 1978-82 and graduated on the Dean's Roll with a B.A. in Secondary PE. Laura was honored as the first ever recipient of the NEIU Charles G. Kane Award. After graduation, Laura taught at Glenbrook South High School, Glencoe School and worked at Independence Park. She coached the Maine South Boys Gymnastics team, Fenton High School Girls Gymnastics team, Glenbrook South Boys and Girls Gymnastics team and Buffalo Grove High School Girls Gymnastics team. Laura also worked at Lovellton in Elgin as Adolescents in Recovery Counselor. Laura moved to Texas in 1999 where she founded a nonprofit, Dream of Hopes Ranch, Inc., for adolescents and adults with special needs. She started the program with five ranchers and to date has helped more than 200 families during the past 20 years. Dreams of Hope Ranch is now year round with more than 65 families involved from the day program, respite care and Special Olympics, which Laura has been involved with since 1968. Helping others has been Laura's passion since she was a child.
Community Leadership Award
B.A. 2013 Justice Studies; M.A. 2018 Community and Teacher Leaders
Jessie Fuentes is an activist in the Humboldt Park Community in Chicago. Jessie is a graduate of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School – the Puerto Rican Cultural Center’s very own educational institution. Jessie received a bachelor's in Justice Studies and a master's in Community and Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Jessie has done work around empowering young people in the community, the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, anti-gentrification work, education reform, and work around the independence of Puerto Rico. Jessie began her political work as the director of a youth organization in Humboldt Park called the Batey Urbano. She is now the Director of Policy and Youth Advocacy for the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. Through her social justice work, Jessie strives to create a more just world through policy and grassroots organizing.
Outstanding GOLD Alumni Award
Dr. Samniqueka Halsey
B.S. 2011 Biology
Her scholarship excellence, commitment to service, and unstoppable leadership regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion make Dr. Samniqueka Halsey (B.S., Biology, 2011) one of NEIU’s most accomplished young alumni. She has published a dozen peer-reviewed articles and received numerous awards while completing her Ph.D. in Computational Biology, such as the ACM Computational and Data Science Fellowship. She has been consistently active in community education efforts, including co-founding an organization to provide hands-on STEM experiences for inner-city children and introducing middle school girls and their teachers to coding. Now a faculty member at University of Missouri, Dr. Halsey works one-on-one with a diverse group of undergraduate students in her research lab and is the lead creator of the COMPASS mentoring program for underrepresented students in STEM. As a Black woman in science, Dr. Halsey has distinguished herself as an outstanding role model for the next generation of scientists.
Future Alumni Leader Award
NEIU Student, Biology
Kimberly is a compassionate, motivated and determined student at NEIU. Kimberly actively seeks mentoring opportunities through professional organizations like Increasing Diversity in Dentistry and with faculty at NEIU. Most recently was awarded the Robertson Family Education Enrichment Award. Kimberly presented her summer research at the NEIU symposium in October 2020 as well as presented her findings at the national Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science conference in 2020 and more recently at the Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority conference on Feb. 28, 2021. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology and is interested in pursuing a career in dentistry.