Professor Lorgia García-Peña, alumni Maria Ressa and Jim Lee honored as ‘Great Immigrants’

Princeton professor Lorgia García-Peña, Class of 1986 graduate Jim Lee, and Nobel laureate and Class of 1986 graduate Maria Ressa have been named to the 2024 list of America’s “Great Immigrants” by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

This year 24 naturalized citizens received the annual award in recognition of their contributions to enrich American society and strengthen democracy, according to the Carnegie Corporation. The philanthropic foundation sponsors the annual “Great Immigrants, Great Americans” campaign to celebrate “immigrants’ vital role in American life.” This year’s winners represent education, public service, the arts, journalism, health and other fields.

Lorgia García-Peña

García-Peña is a professor of the Effron Center for the Study of America and African American Studies. She also serves as the director of Princeton’s Program in Latino Studies. Born in the Dominican Republic, she immigrated to the United States at age 12.

Lorgia García-Peña smiling

Her research specializes in race and colonialism and Afro-Latinx studies. She is the winner of such awards as the 2017 National Women’s Studies Association Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize, the 2016 Latino/a Studies Book Award, and the 2016 Isis Duarte Book Prize in Haitian and Dominican Studies. She was also named a 2021 Freedom Scholar by the Marguerite Casey Foundation.

Her books include “Community as Rebellion: A Syllabus for Surviving Academia as a Woman of Color” (Haymarket, 2022), “Translating Blackness: Migrations of Latinx Colonialities in Global Perspective” (Duke University Press, 2022) and “The Borders of Dominicanidad: Race, Nation, and Archives of Contradiction” (Duke University Press, 2016).

Before joining the Princeton faculty in 2022, García-Peña was the Mellon Professor in Studies of Race, Colonialism and Diaspora at Tufts University. She previously was on the faculty at Harvard University and the University of Georgia.

Jim Lee

Lee is president, publisher and chief creative officer of DC Comics. The renowned comic book artist, writer and editor earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Princeton in 1986. He was born in South Korea and moved to the United States while in elementary school.

Jim Lee smiling

Lee has received numerous awards for his work, including the Harvey Special Award for New Talent in 1990, the Inkpot Award in 1992, and the Wizard Fan Award in 1996, 2002 and 2003. He has worked on such bestsellers as “All Star Batman and Robin,” “Superman: For Tomorrow” and “The Boy Wonder.”

He began his career at Marvel Comics where his work on the X-Men earned a Guinness World Record for best-selling comic book of all time, according to the Carnegie Corporation release.

Beyond DC Comics, he engages in philanthropic work to support local comic books stores, Huntington’s disease and children’s mental health. He is also a member of Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts Advisory Council.

Maria Ressa

Ressa is the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her commitments to freedom of expression and democratic government. The longtime journalist is CEO and co-founder of the Philippines-based digital news site She earned a bachelor’s degree in English with certificates in dance and theater from Princeton.

Maria Ressa smiling

Born in the Philippines, she immigrated to the United States at age 9. She shared her personal story as an immigrant and her professional fight to uncover the truth in her book “How to Stand Up to a Dictator,” which was the 2023 Princeton Pre-read book.

Ressa has also been honored with Princeton’s top undergraduate alumni prize and was the Class of 2020’s Baccalaureate speaker. “The greatest love is not standing quiet when you see something that could be better. I love both my countries, the Philippines and the United States, and I’m doing my best to make [them] better,” Ressa said during her 2022 Alumni Day speech.

She has been recognized by numerous organizations and publications for her work as an investigative reporter. She was named Time Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year and has also been named one of Time's Most Influential Women of the Century. In 2020, UNESCO awarded her the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Her journalism awards include the Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Free Media Pioneer Award from the International Press Institute, according to her biography.

Ressa's career in journalism includes serving as CNN bureau chief in Manilla and Jakarta. She is also the author of the books “Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia” and “From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism."

Previous Princeton winners

Other recent “Great Immigrant” honorees from Princeton include Nobel laureate Syukuro (Suki) Manabe of Japan, a senior meteorologist in atmospheric and oceanic sciences and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory; Kwame Anthony Appiah of Ghana, a professor emeritus of philosophy; Sir Angus Deaton of Scotland, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs, Emeritus, a professor of economics and international affairs, emeritus, and a Nobel laureate in economics; Aleksander Hemon of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts; and the late Daniel Kahneman of Israel, a professor emeritus of psychology and a Nobel laureate in economics.