Sophia Travis to be remembered with IU's Distinguished Asian Pacific American Alumni Award

  • Sept. 16, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The late Sophia Travis, former president of the Monroe County Council and president of the Indiana University Asian Alumni Association, will be honored posthumously on Sept. 22 with the 2013 Distinguished Asian Pacific American Alumni Award.

Travis served one term on the Monroe County Council from 2005 to 2009 and served as president of the council in 2006. She died unexpectedly in September 2012 while seeking re-election as an at-large candidate for the county council.

The award recognizes outstanding professional achievements and community service of Asian and Pacific American alumni of IU. Travis' husband, Gregory, and son, Finn, will accept the award.

It will be presented at an event titled "An Alumni Reception and Tribute to Sophia Travis" from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

The daughter of a Korean mother and a Finnish father, Travis came to IU Bloomington in 1984 to study music after her senior year at Interlochen Arts Academy. She became involved in the city's vibrant music scene, playing the accordion and performing in several bands.

Travis completed a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian languages and literature in 1992 and became involved in a number of civic organizations. She also continued with graduate studies at the Jacobs School of Music.

She also served on many boards and commissions, including the Monroe County Development Commission, the Monroe County Parks and Recreation Board, the Bloomington Commission on Aging, the board of Options (now LifeDesigns), Mother Hubbard's Cupboard and the Monroe County Commission on the Status of Women.

Thao Nelson, B.A. '93 and M.S. '96, president of the IU Asian Alumni Association, noted that Travis was the kind of person who works to leave a legacy for others to follow.

"Sophia’s contribution to our organization is immeasurable. She created our signature program, the Distinguished Asian Pacific American Alumni Award, which is bestowed on an IU Asian alumnus who leaves a lasting impact to Indiana University and the community they serve," Nelson said. "It is our pleasure to recognize Sophia with this award to celebrate her personal accomplishments, professional achievements and humanitarian service to IU and Bloomington."

Previous winners of the Distinguished Asian Pacific American Alumni Award have included Judge G. Michael Witte, of Lawrenceburg, Ind.; entrepreneur Anurag Mendhekar, of Los Altos, Calif.; Sau-ling Cynthia Wong, of Sunnyvale, Calif., professor emeritus of ethnic studies at the University of California; Yoshito Kawahara, of San Diego, Calif., former leader of the Asian American Psychological Association; and Eugene Eoyang, of Bloomington, Ind., a retired professor at IU and Lingnan University in Hong Kong,

The IU Asian Alumni Association is an affiliate group of the IU Alumni Association. The IUAA is dedicated to serving the university and its diverse alumni, students and friends. As one of the nation's largest alumni organizations, serving about 580,000 graduates worldwide, the IUAA provides many programs and services to its members, nonmember alumni and the university. For more information, call 800-824-3044.

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