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Two undergraduate students earn Spirit of Creighton award

May 16, 2022
5 min Read
Spirit of Creighton award receipients

A Yazidi refugee from northern Iraq who has become a noted advocate for Afghani women and a triple-major who founded a website design and development business in 2016 received the Spirit of Creighton award during Creighton’s 2022 undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 14, at CHI Health Center Omaha.

The Spirit of Creighton is the highest award conferred upon students deemed to embody the spirit of Creighton’s founders. Given annually since 1949, the award honors undergraduate, graduate and professional students for their initiative, enterprise, academic achievement and outstanding character.

Nibras Basitkey (pictured above left), who arrived in the United States from Iraq in 2015, is an economics major in the Heider College of Business. Eli Blaney (pictured above right), who will begin studies at the Creighton University School of Medicine, graduated with bachelor’s degrees in biology, computer science, and music.

Nibras Basitkey

Basitkey is a founder of the Free Yazidi Foundation. She appeared on NBC’s Today Show, where she and another student discussed the Malala Fund for Afghanistan women. She addressed the United Nations on investing in the education of girls, is a mentor for Syrian youth, a translator and research assistant for the Immigrant Legal Center and was an independent researcher for the Future of Religious Minorities in Iraq.

She was an intern for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C., for the Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations in New York, and for the Religious Freedom Institute, also in Washington, D.C.

Nibras Basitkey and Fr. Hendrickson
Nibras Basitkey, left, and the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD.

Eli Blaney

Blaney’s award citation states he exemplifies the spirit of magis, going beyond expectations to take 21 credits per semester, seeking opportunities to conduct research throughout his sophomore, junior and senior years, and during his senior capstone course leading a team of students to develop and design a software platform that he is currently expanding into an academic planning/registration platform for universities worldwide.

In 2016, Blaney founded a website design and development business, and in 2019, co-founded an app development company with a Catholic/Jesuit focus.

Eli Blaney and Fr. Hendrickson
Eli Blaney, left, and the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD.

He has served as the Midwest coordinator for the Global Health Conference, is a Goldwater Scholar and received a CURAS Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and a NASA Space Grant Fellowship. He has been in the chamber choir and is a pianist, vocalist and music theory tutor.

The importance to Blaney of spirituality and Jesuit values are evidenced by his roles as a campus faith leader, worship team director, freshman retreat leader and Schlegel Center for Service and Justice (SCSJ) service trip volunteer. He has also been active with Campus Ministry.