Melissa Gutierrez and Kayla Padgett
Melissa Gutierrez and Kayla Padgett

School of Liberal Arts awards first Liberal Arts Works scholarships

Melissa Gutierrez can use English, Spanish, German, or French to help people in need. An IUPUI junior, she’s parlaying her love of languages into a career of service.

Kayla Padgett loves languages, too, especially Chinese. A junior at IUPUI, she’s combining Chinese studies with minors in Spanish and global/international studies. Her first-job goal: Serve others as a translator. Her bigger goal: Be a versatile, life-long learner prepared for whatever comes.

The IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI has awarded these two students the inaugural Liberal Arts Works Scholarship. These $2,500 awards focus on bridging the funding gap that can make a difference between dropping out of school and getting a degree.  

“Campus research shows that a modest $2,500 scholarship can have a big impact on student retention,” said IU School of Liberal Arts Dean Thomas J. Davis.

Gutierrez’s interest in foreign languages began as a first-generation American interpreting for her family. While studying at IUPUI, she has used her skills to help Congolese refugees find housing and worked as a legal interpreter at a local law firm. She is currently studying abroad in Germany. [WATCH: Melissa Gutierrez explains how scholarship makes her education possible].

“My journey as a student of the liberal arts has empowered me,” Gutierrez said. “It is the weapon with which I fight inequality and bigotry. It has changed me, and it has fueled my desire to continue learning. A Liberal Arts education has awarded me true independence and freedom because it has helped me realize my dreams of a life in service.”

As a child, Padgett was intrigued by the pictographic nature of the Chinese-language. She liked to draw the characters. When she enrolled at IUPUI, she signed up for a Chinese language course. While the going was rough, things began to click during a study abroad. Now, the Indianapolis, Indiana, and Celina, Tennessee native plans to work as an interpreter and translator.

“That is where my major comes in, bridging language barriers and enhancing productivity, whether in business, government, or entertainment,” Padgett said. “Having a liberal arts degree prepares me to be more adaptable to any work environment.”

To contribute to a Liberal Arts Works Scholarship, contact Liz Goodfellow via or 317.274.1496. Online gifts may be made via the IU Foundation.

To learn more about IUPUI’s “Liberal Arts Works” public education campaign, follow the School of Liberal Arts on Facebook or Twitter (@libartsIUPUI) and the hashtag #LiberalArtsWorks.