Won-Joon Yoon Scholarship winners announced

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs is pleased to announce Melinda Brennan and Laclyn Lahr as the winners of the 2014 Won-Joon Yoon Scholarship. The scholarship was established in 1999 by IU President Myles Brand to honor the memory of Won-Joon Yoon, a young and bright IU graduate student from South Korea who was a victim of a random act of extremist violence. The scholarship of $1,500 each is awarded to IUB students whose academic, professional and personal accomplishments and goals exhibit tolerance, understanding and commitment to service.

Melinda Brennan is a doctoral candidate in the Gender Studies department at Indiana University Bloomington. She has always been committed to anti-racist and feminist scholarly, professional and personal work. She was awarded the Won-Joon Yoon Scholarship as partial funding for her participation in the 5th Annual International Conference on the Study of Islamophobia. The conference considered Islamophobia as a process of racialization, linked to racial injustices committed against other minority groups. The conference was held at the University of California, Berkeley, funded by UC Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender, and was livestreamed to over 2500 viewers.

She attended the conference both to present her scholarly work and, equally important, as a way to connect with scholars and activists who produce scholarship and community education programs that break down barriers to multicultural, cross-religious interaction in an effort to increase understanding while serving multiple communities. As a woman of color with a recent immigration story in her family history, Melinda has consistently researched topics focusing on minoritized statuses, processes of oppression and methods of resisting oppression. Her academic work has always been at the intersection of race, gender, sexual and national identities. Melinda's personal and professional work both at IU and her former institution, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has been student-centered. Acting as a resource for her students, especially people of color, women, LGBTQ and first generation students, Melinda has organized and participated in events and workshops, and helped students navigate the institutional structure of the university. She will continue her service oriented teaching and mentoring as a way of advocating for inter-group understanding and education.

Jaclyn Lahr is a senior at Indiana University Bloomington majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in Psychology and International Studies. She has always been passionate about serving and helping others in need. Her passion focuses on women's equality worldwide and eradicating gender-based violence. She founded Stop the Silence, a student organization to raise awareness about child sexual abuse, and volunteers at Middle Way House, the local domestic violence shelter. Her investment in women's issues and preventing violence against women has inspired Jaclyn to pursue a career for an internationally-focused non-governmental organization (NGO) developing and evaluating programs that empower women.

To pursue her professional interests, Jaclyn is developing an honors thesis researching domestic violence in Indian diaspora in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. To conduct her thesis, she is participating in a research-based study abroad program in India during the fall 2014 semester. The funds from the Won-Joon Yoon Scholarship will contribute towards the program. She will perform a case study of the local NGOs and law enforcement agencies. Travelling to India enables Jaclyn to collect important data for the thesis and provides her with tangible knowledge and experience that are very beneficial for her career aspirations. With the research, she hopes to contribute to the existing literature on domestic violence in India and provide recommendations for prevention and intervention programs. This project is the perfect foundation to establish a flourishing career in international nonprofit work eradicating global violence against women and promoting women's empowerment.