2020 Distinguished Alumnus Award

NEIU Golden Gala and Alumni Awards Ceremony


The Northeastern Illinois University Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest alumni honor the University bestows. It recognizes a particular achievement of note, a series of such achievements or a career of outstanding accomplishment. Since the award’s inception in 2005, Northeastern has recognized alumni who have distinguished themselves as preeminent in their fields, excelling in their vocations and avocations.


Ana Castillo
Distinguished Alumna Award

B.A. 1975 Art/Secondary Education

Ana Castillo is a celebrated and distinguished poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar. Castillo was born and raised in Chicago. She has contributed to periodicals online venues (Salon and Oxygen) and national magazines, including More and the Sunday New York Times. Castillo’s writings have been the subject of numerous scholarly investigations and publications.

Her award- winning, best selling titles include novels “So Far From God,” “The Guardians” and “Peel My Love like an Onion,” and poetry “I Ask the Impossible.” Her novel “Sapogonia” was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She has been profiled and interviewed on National Public Radio and the History Channel and was a radio-essayist with NPR in Chicago. Dr. Castillo is editor of La Tolteca 2.0 on her blog, an arts and literary zine, which features creatives of all backgrounds while focusing on the marginalized. In 2014 Dr. Castillo held the Lund-Gil Endowed Chair at Dominican University, River Forest, Ill., and served on the faculty with the Bread Loaf Summer Program (Middlebury College) in 2015 and 2016.

She also held the first Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Endowed Chair at DePaul University 2001-06, the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Visiting Scholar post at M.I.T. and was the Poet-in-Residence at Westminster College in Utah in 2012, among other teaching posts throughout her extensive career. Dr. Castillo holds an M.A from the University of Chicago, a Ph.D. from University of Bremen, Germany in American Studies and an honorary doctorate from Colby College.

Thank you, NEIU and thank you to the nominating committee.  Sending love & best wishes for safety and well being to all.