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Lilian Maldonado-Garcia Receives the Inaugural Dr. Gisela Spieker Prize

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Lilian Maldonado-Garcia is the first annual recipient of the Dr. Gisela Spieker Prize, a $500 award presented to an outstanding first-generation college graduate. Maldonado-Garcia, who arrived in the U.S. at 14 speaking no English, received her degree from Tulane SoPA in the fall of 2019.

Academic Honors and Work in Immigration

Maldonado-Garcia completed her bachelor's degree in General Legal Studies while working full time as a legal secretary. She was named to the 2020 Class of Tulane 34, the university's most exclusive student honor. She was also inducted in Alpha Sigma Lambda, the national honor society for adult students, and repeatedly earned Dean's list honors. She works as an immigration paralegal, assisting others with applications for asylum and special visas for victims of crimes. Maldonado-Garcia is currently studying for the LSAT and plans to attend law school.

About Dr. Gisela Spieker

The award is named after Dr. Gisela Spieker, UC '61, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Germany via the Dominican Republic in the aftermath of WWII. Dr. Spieker, who spoke German, Spanish, and English, attended University College at night while working full time for a local insurance agency. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in social work from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971 and served as Dean of the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her research and publications focused on alcohol abuse, child abuse, and intra-family violence. She was also instrumental in creating the first battered women's shelter in Little Rock. Dr. Spieker passed away in 2016, leaving a bequest to the Tulane School of Professional Advancement. The prize will be awarded annually at the school's spring diploma ceremony.

Programs Catered to Working Adults

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