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Lydia Slattery
Media Relations Specialist

Phone: 563-387-1417

Luther College announces Joy Tlou Memorial Award winner Nancy Le

DECORAH, IOWA—Luther College senior Nancy Le received the 2024 Joy Tlou Memorial Award in recognition of her contributions to campus life, encouraging a “community of joy.” 

Nancy Le

“I feel incredibly honored and grateful to receive the 2024 Joy Tlou Memorial Award. To have my creativity and positivity recognized by people at Luther means so much,” Le said. “Interacting with different people on campus, especially through my work-study job at the Career Center, brings me joy, and I’m glad that my contributions have made an impact on those around me as well.” 

The Joy Tlou Memorial Award was established by Hla Tlou in memory of her brother, Bonolo Joy Tlou ’86, in 2023. Le is the second recipient; Myke Shed ’23 was named the inaugural recipient in 2023. It is awarded to students whose character, leadership and participation in the campus community enhance the quality of campus life and encourage a “community of joy.”

Le came to Luther from Hue City, Vietnam. She will graduate this year with a degree in visual communication. She has spread her positivity and talents around campus. 

This includes working at the Luther Career Center, serves as a CliftonStrengths Ambassador, where she helps students, faculty and staff on campus recognize and apply their talents in life and careers. She also creates content for social media, including videos and reels, to educate the campus about services and the importance of having a quality resume and networking. She was nominated by her Career Center supervisors Katrina Brickley, administrative and communications coordinator, and Miriam Skrade, associate director. 

“Nancy brings smiles, waves and giggles as she approaches the windows of the Career Center, all before she enters the door,” Brickley said. “Once inside, everyone working is greeted by peppy hellos. No one leaves Nancy’s presence a stranger.”

“Nancy brings not only joy, but also knowledge and impact to everything she does,” Skrade said. “Whether it’s a vice president or one of her classmates, she will talk to anyone like they’re long term friends.” 

In addition to her work study position at the Career Center, Le spent her junior year as part of Luther’s Nottingham Year, where students spend a year abroad in the English city, and serves as a resident assistant in Miller Hall. During her sophomore year, she was an admissions ambassador and a member of Luther College Cheerleading, in addition to working at the Writing Center.  

When asked how she brings joy to campus, Le responded by saying, “It’s the little things like making eye contact, sharing smiles, and giving genuine compliments to people, whether I know them or not. I love spreading positivity and creating a welcoming environment for everyone.” 

Le said she likes Luther’s small size because she feels like she was able to get to know everyone around campus.

“In each class Nancy has taken from me, she’s brought infectious energy. Ultimately, this has really elevated entire classroom communities in profound ways,” said Thomas Johnson, professor of communication studies. “She’s a bright light, no doubt.”

“I feel like I’m meant to be at Luther. The small size of the college has allowed me to create meaningful connections with a lot of members of our campus community, and it truly feels like home here,” Le said. “The friends I’ve made, the professors I’ve had, and Luther staff I’ve encountered have all contributed to making Luther a special place for me.”

About Bonolo “Joy” Tlou

Joy Tlou was born in Gwanda, Zimbabwe, in 1963. He moved to Decorah with his mom and sisters when he was two years old to join his father, who was a student at Luther College. Joy attended elementary school in Decorah and junior high school in Glencoe, Illinois; he graduated from high school in Blacksburg, Virginia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Luther College in 1986. No matter where Joy went, he was loved by everyone and was a friend to anyone. 

In addition to working as a college administrator, Joy was an artist who made beautiful pottery, a singer and musician, a cook who hosted dinners for no other reason than to bring people together. He enjoyed fishing, skiing, telling jokes and simply being in the company of friends and family.

About The Joy Tlou Memorial Award

The Joy Tlou Memorial Award is awarded to students whose character, leadership, and participation in the campus community enhance the quality of campus life and encourage a “community of joy.” The $3,000 award is managed through both an application and nomination process. In addition to meeting the criteria above, the following questions are addressed through the application or nomination: 1) What gifts do you have to share; 2) What joy can you bring to the campus community; and 3) What will you do to be like Joy?

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

Contact Information

Lydia Slattery
Media Relations Specialist

Phone: 563-387-1417