Outstanding MSU graduating senior awarded prize.
Alexie Milukhin, a graduating senior at Michigan State University, has been named the 2023 recipient of the Richard Lee Featherstone Endowed Prize.
The prize is awarded to an outstanding graduating senior as recognized by the Featherstone Nomination Committee. The senior must meet the following criteria:
- Graduate in 2023
- Exhibit an open, curious and creative approach to education and ideas. Intellectual ingenuity will be evident. More weight will be given to intellectual curiosity and innovation than to grades attained, although a cumulative GPA above 3.0 is preferred.
- Have demonstrated exceptional character and leadership in furthering her or his own progress and in enriching the lives of others. The recipient will also have demonstrated innovation and creativity over their career at Michigan State University. A commitment to community service should be evident.
Alexie Milukhin is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Relations and Public Policy, with minors in Chicano/Latino Studies and Educational Studies.
“Coming from a low-income, first-generation, and Mexican-American household, I knew that a college degree was far more than a piece of paper,” Milukhin said. “For me, education is not just a pathway towards upward mobility for myself and my family, a precious opportunity to break generational cycles of poverty and trauma; it was my only pathway.”
The experiences of Milukhin and her family influenced all her areas of study at MSU and helped her address the barriers they faced. Through her research, Milukhin registered her family in government programs and raised $60,000 in scholarships to support her education while managing a restaurant as an essential worker and finishing her sophomore year at MSU with a 4.0 GPA.
She also learned about programs and services designed to support prosperity, discovering they are inaccessible to low-income communities and people of color. She also continued her research at the Educational Policy Innovation Collaborative where she investigated the distribution of COVID-19 relief funding for schools and other issues.
In other endeavors, Milukhin used her experience working through financial processes and scholarships to help nearly 2,000 students from similar backgrounds learn how to attend and persist in college through on-campus mentorship groups and off-campus efforts such as Michigan Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. Even at home, Milukhin facilitated programming with middle school and high school students on academic success, college admissions and financial aid.
Outside of the classroom, she was a founder and president of the registered student organization (RSO) Latino Leaders in Policy, an on-campus organization that facilitates workshops, panels, and Q&As for a cohort of Latino MSU students seeking policy careers. The RSO also organizes Latino Youth Advocacy Day at the Michigan Capitol to introduce young people to the state legislature. This is in addition to volunteering with R2L NextGen, a weeklong Washington D.C. leadership and civics program for high school students.
“It is critical that young people not only have access to education, but to political processes,” Milukhin said.
Milukhin also worked toward legislation aimed at mitigating systemic inequities experienced by people of color and low-income communities through her positions with the Office of State Sen. Sylvia Santana, Michigan Hispanic Latino Commission, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and as a staffer for the only Latina in the Michigan House of Representatives, Rep. Veronica Paiz.
After earning her bachelor’s degree, Milukhin plans to work on policy that addresses the lived realities of people like her. She hopes to one day serve the communities she cares so deeply about through a position in congressional affairs with the Michigan Department of Education.
The Richard Lee Featherstone Endowed Prize was created in 1986 by a group of MSU College of Education alumni to celebrate Dr. Richard Lee Featherstone’s life and contributions to scholarship, research and leadership.