ADA – Former East Central University standout Tana Lala-Pritchard has been named a 2020 Distinguished Alumna by the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society in recognition of her outstanding career work thus far.
This award recognizes high-achieving university graduates amongst the top 10 percent in the U.S. who have used their academic excellence and scholarship to build a career of outstanding service and leadership for the greater good.
“Pouring myself into my studies was my salvation and the thing that always got me noticed,” said Lala-Pritchard. “The pursuit of academic excellence was my only way to succeed and take charge of my life, the thing from which you can only grow – both personally and professionally –if you work hard at it.”
After earning bachelor’s degrees in both Political Science and Business Administration from ECU in 2002, with the highest academic honors, Lala-Pritchard earned her master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. At ECU, she was the first international college student to receive the George Nigh Governor’s Award as the top graduate in Oklahoma.
Lala-Pritchard is currently the executive director of Strategy, Innovation and Communications at WorldFish, a non-profit research and innovation institution that creates, advances and translates scientific research on aquatic food systems into scalable solutions with a transformational impact on human well-being and the environment.
“As the daughter of a highly-accomplished Albanian intellectual and political dissident in one of the most oppressive communist regimes in the world, Tana has embraced her father’s calling to push and advocate for transformational change of unjust and inequitable governance and socio-economic systems,” said Dr. Christine Pappas, ECU Political Science department chair and one of Lala-Pritchard’s early undergraduate professors.
Alpha Chi recognized Lala-Pritchard for her outstanding communications and advocacy work at the intersection of science, policy, business and social entrepreneurship with actors across the public and private sectors to shape evidence-based investments, innovations and policy on critical issues such as climate action, food security and nutrition, ocean governance, gender equality, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.
“The Alpha Chi National Committee agreed that the trait that made Tana’s nomination stand apart was the match of her character and background with the tenets that Alpha Chi espouses as a society of scholars,” said Dr. David K. Jones, the organization’s president. “Tana’s work with an impressive array of international development organizations to advocate for human rights, gender equality, climate action, environmental sustainability and humanitarian causes is replete with character and scholarship being applied for the greater good.”
In her Distinguished Alumna address to this year’s virtual Alpha Chi Convention, Lala-Pritchard described an inspiring and incredible personal journey of overcoming tremendous adversities as an immigrant child in the U.S. She left her home country of Albania following civil unrest and conflict that came with the fall of the iron curtain and the toppling of communism across Eastern Europe in the 1990s.
“I still remember my first day of class in Introduction to Political Philosophy,” Lala-Pritchard said. “We used the Socratic method of inquiry to explore Plato’s cave allegory. It is essentially an exercise that teaches you that the real world is much bigger than the immediate world of your cave. To find the true meaning and purpose of existence and come to terms with who you truly are, you must abandon your cave and learn to challenge your own beliefs and assumptions through the constant pursuit of knowledge and experiences that stretch you.”
To read much more about Lala-Pritchard’s impressive journey, visit www.alphachihonor.org. To start your own exciting journey at ECU, visit www.ecok.edu/apply.