Indian American Neeli Bendapudi to Receive Immigrant Achievement Award in US

Born and raised in India, Neeli Bendapudi is the president of Penn State University.

South Asians
2 min read
Hindi Female

Indian-origin Neeli Bendapudi will be conferred the prestigious Immigrant Achievement Award this year for her contribution to higher education in the United States.

The Immigrant Achievement Award is an honour presented annually to either an immigrant individual or an organisation that contributed to the American heritage of being an immigrant nation, advocating for humane and just immigration policy. 

The 59-year-old President of Penn State University will be presented with the award at the DC Immigrant Achievement Awards reception on April 28.


“As an immigrant and trailblazer, she has spent years navigating the lack of diversity in leadership and the challenges confronting minority groups. This year, we are thrilled to commemorate Dr. Bendapudi for embodying the diverse contributions generations of immigrants bring to this nation and as a testament to the enduring power of our country’s immigrant history,” said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the American Immigration Council.

Bendapudi immigrated to the United States to pursue a doctorate in marketing from the University of Kansas. Prior to that, she received her BA degree in English as well as an MBA from India’s Andhra University.

She became the first-ever woman and person of colour to be named the president of Penn State University, where she is in charge of overseeing its modern land-grant mission of teaching, research, as well as public service across 24 campuses and the online Penn State World Campus.

 Also serving as president of the University of Louisville from 2018-2021, Bendapudi has received recognition for her contributions to the field of higher education at university and national levels. In 2021, she was given a spot on the list of 25 women “who have made a difference in the academy” by Diverse Issues in Higher Education publication.

"The United States is a nation of immigrants, and I am merely one of many who have come to this country in search of America’s ‘golden door’ to opportunity and prosperity."
Neeli Bendapudi

Continuing her advocacy for just immigration policy and highlighting immigrant contributions to the United States. 

“As the president of one of our nation’s renowned land-grant universities, I am committed to expanding access to the transformative power of higher education for all students who are ready to learn — including those who, like me, have come to this country to seek their degrees in the hopes of building a better life for themselves and a brighter future for their families,” she said. 

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