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Students, organizations honored with Highlander Leadership Awards

Barry McNamara
Diana Rubi ’18 of Peoria, Ill., is named Student Leader of the Year at the Highlander Leadership Awards. From left: President Clarence R. Wyatt, Diana Rubi, First Lady Lobie Stone and the Rev. Dr. Teri Ott.
Leadership was celebrated Wednesday, April 26, at Monmouth College.

Students, faculty, staff members and organizations of the College were honored at the Highlander Leadership Awards, presented by the Office of Student Involvement.

“(These leaders) have made a difference in the quality of student life on our campus and the improvements they’ve set in motion will continue to be felt after they’ve left their positions and the College,” said Monmouth Assistant Director of Leadership Development Jake McLean.

Diana Rubi ’18 of Peoria, Ill., earned the Student Leader of the Year Award, presented to students who have contributed significantly to the leadership of their organization and whose campus participation has been outstanding. The organization that nominated Rubi wrote that she is “the best example of a natural leader we have ever seen, combining compassion and the desire to help others.”

Farida Mohammed ’18 of Monmouth received the White and Crimson Leadership Award, which recognizes students who have taken extra strides to go beyond the call of duty to have an impact on the campus.

Callie Cook ’18 of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received a new honor – the Emerging Leader Award – which recognizes a student who has demonstrated significant potential for success through involvement in their community and has exemplified personal growth and exploration of the unfamiliar.

“We brought the award to the banquet because we think it’s important that we have some kind of way to recognize younger student leaders on our campus and the things they do in and out of the classroom,” said McLean. “Our recipient has definitely proven herself in those areas.”

Other students honored were: Elizabeth Hippen ’18 of Toulon, Ill. (Big Red Spirit Award); Mary Kate Luzzo ’18 of Orland Park, Ill. (Student Employee of the Year); and Brenda Saldivar ’17 of Chicago (Good Neighbor Award). The latter award is presented to students who develop relationships with their neighbors and strive to embody a commitment to giving back to society.

Staff member Gena Alcorn ’88 was presented the Advisor Excellence Award for her work with the Kappa Kappa Gamma women’s fraternity. Faculty member Kristin Larson was named Outstanding Career Mentor for going “above and beyond to help students find their interests and giving them the resources and advice they need to pursue that interest.”

The Alpha Xi Delta women’s fraternity received the Service Excellence Award, Monmouth Forensics earned the Organization Excellence Award and the Department of Art received the Kaleidoscope Award for a creative program that improves the Monmouth community. In February, the art department hosted a joint Black Lives Matter exhibit with students from Oswego (Ill.) East High School.

It was noted at the ceremony that members of Alpha Xi Delta volunteer in the community through the Warren County YMCA, the Strom Center, the Monmouth Food Pantry and OSF Holy Family Medical Center, while also raising nearly $13,000 to support their national philanthropy.

The banquet also featured two senior reflections by Emma Vanderpool of Frankfort, Ill., and Matt Barnes of Colfax, Ill.

Barnes discussed the need for leaders to have passion, which he defined as “having a purpose, assessing yourself, having social boldness, serving others, fostering intimacy and ownership, and never being satisfied.”

He told the room full of campus leaders assembled in the Highlander Room of the Stockdale Student Center “When you figure out your passion as a leader, share it with the world, because chances are there are people around you that share in the same thing and are looking for someone to help guide them in their pursuit of never being satisfied with where they are at in life.”