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A passion for education, justice and advocacy defined Natalia Prato’s time at Dominican University.

It has also earned her the university’s highest student honor, the 2023 Mulroy Award.

Named for Dorothy Reiner Mulroy ’31, the award is presented annually to a student who has shown outstanding academic achievement and leadership.

Prato was nominated for the honor based on her leadership work within University Ministry, including two years as a Faith Justice intern; her justice-focused research and data collection of student experiences through the National Science Foundation’s DU STEM Success Program; her passion for community health education as an intern with Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital; and her academic excellence in the classroom, which has included a grade-point average of 3.97.

Prato was also a Schmitt Scholar, student representative on Dominican’s Chief Diversity Officer Search Committee, recipient of the St. Catherine Medal Award for academic achievement and service, and co-organizer of the This Book Club is Antiracist group on campus, which led to workshops highlighting justice work by alumnae/i, safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people of color, and service opportunities to students.

“Receiving the Mulroy Award is such an incredible honor,” Prato said. “Even when I was just a nominee, I was getting emotional because Dominican means so much to me.”

With a double-major in psychology and Spanish, Prato’s work as a facilitator of sexual health education workshops within Chicago Public Schools through her Lurie Hospital internship cemented her interest in this field as a career aspiration, she says.

“I’m passionate about advocating against sexual violence and for queer youth and women of color,” she explained. “It’s important to me that all young people feel empowered in their bodies and know this is something they have autonomy over.”

As a Faith Justice intern, Prato said she learned how to use her Catholic identity and religious involvement to empower others to advocate for social justice. This included helping to bring diverse guests to campus for discussions on topical and important issues.

“There was so much intersectionality happening and so many different ways we were able to highlight voices that are sometimes marginalized,” Prato said.

Prato was nominated for the Mulroy Award by seven Department of Psychology professors and Director of University Ministry Tara Segal.

In her nomination, Segal called Prato a “fierce advocate for marginalized voices” and wrote that her “commitment to justice is one that actively drives her decisions.”

“I have no doubt she will continue to represent Dominican with great joy, empathy, and intelligence,” Segal wrote.

“The people at Dominican are what make it special and memorable,” Prato said. “I don’t think there’s a more valuable thing than the community at Dominican.”