Tavis Smiley Scholarships awarded to students at IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Nov. 1, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Scholarships established by broadcaster and author Tavis Smiley have been awarded to five Indiana University students whose interests range from Africa to the Indiana Dunes.

All five are students at the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs, which counts Smiley among its most distinguished alumni. This is the fifth year that scholarships of $4,500 have been awarded in Smiley’s name to SPEA students intent on effecting social change. The scholarships assist students of color, students from diverse cultures and women in achieving their educational goals.

“I am proud of these women and their accomplishments and know they’re getting a superb education at SPEA,” Smiley said. “They have the tenacity and smarts to make a world of difference, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to help them toward that goal.”

The 2013-14 Smiley Scholars are:

  • Sarah Baulac of Lakeland, Fla.
  • Michele Fohl of Brookville, Ind.
  • Stephanie Katz of Yorba Linda, Calif.
  • Mary Nicholas of Porter, Ind.
  • Victoria Zupnik of Downers Grover, Ill.

Baulac is a senior majoring in environmental management. She is an honors student and a first-generation college student. Baulac is working with Giving Back to Africa, a Bloomington-based nonprofit that assists young people in the Congo.

Fohl is a senior majoring in health administration. She is an honors student and a first-generation college student. She volunteers for a variety of organizations including Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health with a career goal of becoming a hospital administrator.

Katz is a senior majoring in public and nonprofit management and has experienced financial hardship. “How lucky I am that I have been allowed to continue my education and how lucky I am that I am part of such an amazing school,” she writes.

Nicholas is a senior majoring in environmental science. She has volunteered at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and is interested in restoring damaged ecosystems. Nicholas has had to work hard to help pay for her education: “Receiving the Tavis Smiley Scholarship will allow me to spend less time working three jobs, focusing more on my education.”

Zupnik is a junior majoring in health administration. A volunteer at a Boys and Girls Club, Zupnik said the scholarship will help cover the cost of her out-of-state tuition.

To be eligible for the scholarships, the students must be undergraduates at SPEA and are selected based on their financial need and their leadership skills demonstrated through volunteerism or other service activities.

About Tavis Smiley:

One of America’s most celebrated and respected media personalities, Tavis Smiley hosts the nightly program "Tavis Smiley" on PBS, "The Tavis Smiley Show" from PRI and "Tavis Talks" on BlogTalkRadio. The author of several best-selling books, Smiley grew up in Bunker Hill, Ind. 

About the School of Public and Environmental Affairs:

SPEA was founded in 1972 and is a world leader in public and environmental affairs and is the largest school of public administration and public policy in the United States. In the 2012 "Best Graduate Schools" by U.S. News & World Report, SPEA ranks second and is the nation's highest-ranked professional graduate program in public affairs at a public institution. Four of its specialty programs are ranked in the top-five listings. SPEA's doctoral programs in public affairs and public policy are also ranked by the National Research Council as among the top two in the nation.