Award Recipients: INIA Scholar of the Year

Every spring, since 1991, the INIA Scholar of the Year Award is given to the most outstanding senior graduating with an Interdisciplinary degree in International Affairs.  The criteria for this award include academic achievements (both in-major GPA and cumulative GPA), international experience, service to the community, and work to advance the field of international affairs.  The award recipient is voted upon by all International Affairs faculty.  Current and past recipients are listed by graduation year.

Lilli Kenfield standing between two award plaques.

2022 Recipient:  Lilli Kenfield

The academic achievements of our International Affairs students were, yet again, exceptional this year.  John Gunville, Danielle Peraza and Lilli Kenfield were all nominated as finalists for the 2021-2022 award.  Nonetheless, only one student can receive this honor each year. Thus, a hearty congratulations to Ms. Lilli Kenfield, chosen as the 2022 award recipient.  

Ms. Kenfield successfully pursued a double major in International Affairs and Political Science all while maintaining a 3.7 cumulative GPA and in-major GPA.  What's more, she has excelled in areas of service, international experience and is already working within the international affairs field.  Her commitment to the Cross-Cultural Concentration in INIA is reflected in the many volunteer, internship, and work experiences she has pursued.  Upon being considered, Kenfield shared, “I am honored and grateful for the 2021-2022 INIA Scholar of the Year nomination.  I consider myself a citizen of the world, finding joy and fulfillment in learning about the many unique international cultures.  I look for new opportunities to learn about international and domestic events in the past, present and future.”  

During her studies at Marquette University, Ms. Kenfield found herself gravitating towards the intersection of international affairs studies and human resilience.  This reoccuring theme consistently revealed itself in the volunteer, intern, and work opportunities she pursued; opportunities addressing "issues of proper representation, fair elections and employment.  Although these experiences were on a domestic level, the lessons learned apply globally."  She shares that she has had the good fortune to travel abroad and “witness firsthand the diverse cultures that shape a country's society and its people.”  

Despite being a double-major at Marquette, Kenfield still managed to make the time to tutor  refugee youth.  “My experience working with refugee students with Southeast Asian Literacy (SEAL) opened my eyes to the many difficulties of integrating into a new society.  Through tutoring students and helping with their academic enrichment, I observed more regarding the plight of refugees.  I am grateful for the opportunity to meet and support these young, resilient students and this experience piqued my interest in human perseverance.”

 While Ms. Kenfield was unable to study abroad due to the pandemic, as was the case for many students, she was successful in landing an internship in Representative Gwen Moore’s office (WI-4) in Washington, DC via the Les Aspin Center.  “Through the internship, I learned about representatives’ unique relationship with their constituents and their responsibilities to the public.  Living and working in Washington brought me not only great joy and lifelong friendships, but also a tremendous amount of growth for me on personal, professional, and intellectual levels.”

Ms. Kenfield went on to intern again; this time with the Milwaukee Common Council, City Clerk’s Office of Workforce Development.  She shares that this experience taught her “about job trends and patterns in the county.  I also gained experience working with employers and local governments to assist job seekers.  However, the most important thing I learned from this opportunity was the impact that local activism has on global policy and vice versa.”  As these internships and experiences have unfolded, Ms. Kenfield was able to identify her areas of academic interest, specifically “activism and policy on an international level, studying the dynamic relationships between individuals and groups within a cultural context of society.”

Later working as a fellow with the Fair Elections Committee's Campus Vote Project, a nonpartisan organization advocating for free and fair elections, she was reminded of the importance that democracy ought never be taken for granted. Organizations like the Campus Vote Project help to ensure credible elections by college students to have their voices heard and exercise their right to vote.  “Through this experience, I have observed how issues of inequality and inaccessibility can affect personal and community well-being.”

After successfully pursuing so many opportunities, it is not surprising that Kenfield is already working part-time as a coordinator at the International Institute of Wisconsin (IIW) in Milwaukee, a nonprofit organization that provides services and support to refugees living and integrating into the greater-Milwaukee area.  Immediately following graduation, Kenfield will transition to full-time work with IIW and will continue to work closely with refugees, “observing the unique connection of human resilience and cultural integration in America.  I am grateful for the support of the department of International Affairs at Marquette, as I feel prepared to take on this new role with confidence.  I am incredibly grateful and humbled for the opportunity to pursue my passions and will strive to use my experience at Marquette to contribute thoughtfully and meaningfully to communities on both a local and international scale.”  A hearty congratulations to Kenfield for this well-deserved honor. 

Past recipients:

  • 2021:  Keeley Cronin
  • 2020: Hannah Denis
  • 2019: Meredith Gillespie
  • 2018: Jane Lorenzi
  • 2017: Michelle Bastanipour
  • 2016: Sophie Torrijos
  • 2015: Joseph Kennedy
  • 2014: Rebecca Cauthorn
  • 2013: Elizabeth Crowley
  • 2012: Colleen O'Conor
  • 2011: Lillian Figg-Franzoi and Molly Giese
  • 2010: Andy Marshall
  • 2009: John Marrin
  • 2008: Caitlin Madden
  • 2007: Conor Sweeney
  • 2006: Joseph Gietl
  • 2005: Ryan McKean
  • 2004: Sophie Reuning
  • 2003: Eric Heyer
  • 2002: Adrienne Lauzon
  • 2001: William Schmitt
  • 2000: Stephanie Elderkin
  • 1999: Kathryn Weber
  • 1998: Mary Kempen
  • 1997: no award
  • 1996: Jeffrey Hornung
  • 1995: Katherine O'Laughlin
  • 1994: Amy Kuemmel
  • 1993: no award
  • 1992: Rita Neuman
  • 1991: John Brady