The Alumni Awards Review Committee has recommended candidates for the 2023 Alumni Awards. After reviewing many nominees, the Committee has chosen Dr. Angel A. Alvarez (‘98) to receive the Alumni Titan Award and Elizabeth “Spike” Malecha (‘90) to receive the Alumni Distinguished Leadership Award.
Established in 2006, the Board of Trustees’ Alumni Awards Program is intended to recognize IMSA alumni “who deliver outstanding contributions to their fields of endeavor, to IMSA, and to the citizens of Illinois, our nation and the world.”
After nomination, alumni and their accomplishments are reviewed by the Committee. The Committee looks for alumni who have “made significant civic or community contributions” or displayed “extraordinary courage and selflessness under challenging circumstances.” The Committee also ensures that an alum’s “achievement/leadership is consistent with IMSA’s mission to nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition” and its “vision to become a recognized global leader in STEM.”
When the selection process is complete, the Committee recommends an alum for each of the Alumni Awards. To officially receive their awards, nominees must confirm their acceptance and attend an IMSA assembly in October.
Alumni Titan Award
The Committee has recommended Dr. Angel A. Alvarez, a class of 1998 IMSA graduate, for the Alumni Titan Award. Dr. Alvarez is currently a Research Assistant Professor of Neurology and Manager of Stem Cell Core at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
In their recommendation, the Committee highlights Dr. Alvarez’s “desire to give back and contribute to being a positive force in the lives of current and future IMSA students.” As an alum, Dr. Alvarez has remained highly involved in the IMSA student experience, from advocating for “equity and excellence in education,” to volunteering for career panel events, to mentoring SIR students.
Recently, Dr. Alvarez gave the 2023 IMSAloquium keynote speech. He has also participated in many of IMSA’s talks with alumni, such as the Equity in STEM, Synergy between Academics, and Strategic Improvement Plan Engagement Alumni Conversations. Further, he has been a panelist for the Senior Transition Program, a member of the Admissions Review Committee, and a Parent’s Association Council Speaker. As a cabinet member of the IMSA Alumni Association, Dr. Alvarez is involved in alumni affairs as well.
Alumni Distinguished Leadership Award
For the Alumni Distinguished Leadership Award, the Committee has recommended class of 1990 alum Elizabeth “Spike” Malecha. Having graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1994, Malecha served in the US Navy on active duty until 2006 before transitioning to the Navy Reserve in 2009. Currently, she is assigned to the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa/US 6th Fleet.
During her service, Malecha’s achievements have included becoming one of the first women to fly fighter jets and the first woman to complete TOPGUN, a navy program that teaches participants fighter strike techniques and certifies them to teach these techniques to their units. Malecha was also the first woman to serve as an instructor for the Strike Fighter Weapons Schools Atlantic and Pacific and to serve as an F-14 training officer.
While an active member of the navy, Malecha was involved in the development of many training plans, which were used to prepare aircrews for deployment as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and other operations. As a member of the reserves, Malecha has continued her leadership in flight instruction at corporations such as Fidelity Technologies and Lockheed Martin. In her current position as Organizational Deputy Director of the US Navy Reserves, Commander of Naval Forces Europe in Naples, Italy, Malecha “leads, supports, and mentors a 100-person team of Naval Reservists to supplement maritime mission operations for U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command,” among other responsibilities.
The Committee recognizes Malecha as an “energetic leader and self-starter, top instructor and mentor, combat-proven aviator, and builder of organizational excellence.” They write that “her knowledge, skills, and judgment make her a sought-after expert, partner, and trusted confidante.”
Congratulations to Dr. Angel Alvarez and Elizabeth Malecha on their many accomplishments!