Three LAS alumni honored with 2017 ISAA awards

Congratulations to the LAS alumni who were named 2017 award winners by the Iowa State Alumni Association!

The Alumni Merit Award honors ISU alumni for outstanding humanitarian efforts that transcend purely professional accomplishments. The Outstanding Young Alumni Award honors ISU alumni, age 40 and under, who have excelled in their professions and provided service to their communities.

These alumni have made a difference in the lives of others, which reflects the service-oriented spirit of an Iowa State University education.


Luis deBaca (’90 political science).
Luis deBaca (’90 political science).

Alumni Merit Award: Luis C. deBaca (’90 political science)

Luis de Baca leads the Department of Justice’s Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). He has worked under three presidential administrations to combat human trafficking and modern-day forms of slavery. He is one of the Justice Department's most decorated federal prosecutors and was honored with the Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award for his service as lead trial counsel in the largest slavery prosecution in U.S. history – United States v. Kil Soo Lee — which involved the enslavement of over 300 Vietnamese and Chinese workers in a garment factory in American Samoa. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Iowa State, he earned his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

The ISAA’s ISU Club of Chicago established the Alumni Merit Award in 1932 to recognize Iowa State alumni for outstanding humanitarian efforts that transcend purely professional accomplishments and bring honor to the university. Up to two awards are granted annually.


Nora Tobin (
Nora Tobin ('10 political science and international studies).

Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Nora K. Tobin ('10 political science and international studies)

For three years, Nora Tobin has served as the Executive Director of Self-Help International, a dynamic non-profit organization in rural Africa and Central America. At age 25, Tobin was chosen to lead the international development organization, which she dramatically restructured. She is now implementing highly impactful programs in Africa and Central America that uplift the poorest smallholder farmers, especially women. While at Iowa State, Tobin served as the president of the One Campaign, which focuses on enhancing nutrition and confronting global hunger. She was one of only 10 college seniors in the country selected for USA Today’s First Team Academic All American, an award that honors students who not only excel academically, but also extend their intellectual abilities beyond the classroom to benefit society. Tobin traveled to Africa several times while at Iowa State and completed an internship at the World Food Prize in Des Moines. She later earned a Masters in Philosophy in International Peace Studies at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.


Josh Dykstra (
Josh Dykstra ('04 MS information assurance).

Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Josiah A. Dykstra ('04 MS information assurance)

Josiah Dykstra is a world-class expert in computer security and has served as a technical leader for more than 10 years. His focus on cyber security started at Iowa State in the second cadre of CyberCorps, a fellowship with the National Science Foundation to grow the nation's workforce. While with CyberCorps, Dykstra’s dedication to his country helped him become a senior researcher, and he earned a PhD in computer science while working full-time. For his record of technological innovations, leadership and mentorship, he was selected in 2015 as one of the youngest members of the Senior Executive Service, which recognizes the top one percent of civil servant leaders, excluding Presidential appointees. He has already made an impact through his passion and excellence in national security, community service and steering the national conversation about issues of cyber security.

The ISAA established the Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 1968 to recognize ISU alumni, age 40 and under, who have excelled in their professions and provided service to their communities. Up to three awards are granted annually.