Jennie Bell, a quadruple major and president of the Black Student Union, has received the 2013 Dorothy Reiner Mulroy Award at Dominican University, the university’s highest student honor.
Established in 1983 by the late Thomas R. Mulroy to honor his wife Dorothy, a member of the class of 1931, the Mulroy Award is the most prestigious award bestowed upon a graduating senior who has shown outstanding academic ability and leadership throughout four years at Dominican.
“I was honored just to be nominated for the award, but receiving it was an even bigger surprise and honor,” Bell said.
The faculty of three different departments selected Bell as the outstanding senior in three different majors: Black World Studies, Criminology, and Political Science.
“This is truly an extraordinary accomplishment that points to the breadth and depth of Jennie’s accomplishments, and highlights her distinctive capacity to integrate knowledge across multiple disciplines,” President Donna M. Carroll said at the commencement ceremony.
Bell also majored in Sociology.
“I always wanted to know more, so I took as many different classes as possible,” Bell said. “I had to strategically craft my schedule; some semesters I had to plan out years in advance.”
Bell’s busy class schedule did nothing to hinder her bustling spirit. Her accomplishments expanded far beyond the confines of classrooms.
Bell’s passion for learning took her across the Atlantic Ocean to Ghana with the Dominican study abroad program. She also participated in Dominican’s domestic study travel course in the American South to study the Southern roots of the American blues and its relationship to the Civil Rights Movement.
“It was through programs at Dominican that I was able to explore my roots in ways that I would have never thought were possible,” Bell explained in her commencement speech.
Bell was president of both the Black Student Union at Dominican and the university’s chapter of the international Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She was also on the executive committee of the university’s Black World Studies Academic Club.
Most recently, Bell made a stirring scholarly presentation at the Undergraduate Research Scholarship and Creative Investigations (URSCI) Expo comparing and assessing the jurisprudence of Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, the only African-American justices to ever serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“These experiences, along with the influence and guidance of professors and conversations with many of [my peers], helped me find my passion,” Bell said.
Over the last four years at Dominican, Bell has found her purpose—to serve others and advocate for those whose voices are often not heard. Driven by this sense of vocation, in the fall, Bell will attend Valparaiso University Law School where she has been awarded a full scholarship.
“Discussions with professors about flaws in the justice system and possible reasons for those flaws made me want to be an advocate and to try to help others in the legal field understand the problems that are often overlooked,” Bell said.
She plans to study criminal and family law and hopes to one day become a judge. With her drive and dedication to making a difference, Bell could become the third African-American Supreme Court Justice.
This year Bell interned with the John Marshall Law School Fair Housing project, where she worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fight housing discrimination.
“[Bell] is a high achiever with a passion for social justice, an interest in social activism, and the motivation for putting her considerable talents toward the service of others,” President Carroll said.
Bell still finds time to enjoy her youth; after all, she’s only 22 years old.
“I love singing and dancing, but I also enjoy cooking, reading, and playing basketball,” Bell said. “I take things one day at a time and I enjoy my life.”
Since graduation, Bell moved back to her hometown of East Chicago, IN., where she lives with her supportive parents. She will be attending the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) Summer Institute where she will gain intense preparation for law school.
“I found my passion and I found myself at Dominican. As I continue on my journey, I will miss the familial environment, but I’ll take the lessons I learned here everywhere I go,” Bell said.