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Scholars Day highlights: Thanking donors, presenting research, Honors Convo

Barry McNamara
TOP PHOTO: Wright Scholarship recipient Lauren Sperry '20 is flanked by David Wright and Ruth Wright, the son and wife of former Monmouth psychology professor Dean Wright. BOTTOM PHOTO: Kate Saulcy '19 of Bloomington, Ill., explains her science research poster. The poster session was held in the Huff Athletic Center fieldhouse.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – For the second straight year, Monmouth College’s Scholars Day fell on one of the first glorious days of spring weather. That was just one of many reasons for smiles all over campus on Tuesday.

“It’s made us so happy to come here for the last few years,” said Bob Shriner, son of the late Sarah “Sally” Turner Shriner ’71, speaking at the Donor Appreciation Luncheon held in the Mellinger Commons. “Now that Mom’s gone, there are some days on the calendar that you don’t necessarily look forward to, but this is one of those days that I know I’m going to smile.”

Shriner and his father, Robert Shriner, spoke at the luncheon about Sally, a teacher for 39 years in whose name they endowed a Monmouth College scholarship.

“Of course, her legacy lives on with all the students she taught,” said her son, “but it also gives us great pleasure to know that her legacy lives on here at Monmouth with the students who receive this scholarship.”

Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt touched on that sentiment, noting in his opening remarks at the luncheon that donations to scholarships are “gifts that continue from generation to generation ... making it possible for young people who are bright and aspiring to have this opportunity.”

Wyatt said that college campuses keep things alive in other ways, as well.

“If there is such a thing as a fountain of youth, it’s a liberal arts college campus,” he said. “All of that is possible because of the donors in the room today.”

Jeren Stewart ’20 of Peoria, Ill., shared a student’s perspective of what scholarships mean. After his freshman year, he didn’t know how it would be possible to continue his Monmouth education.

“I had exhausted any possible resources for my sophomore year,” he said during his time at the podium at the luncheon. “I was $2,800 short of what I needed to return.”

But that summer, two emails he received from the College within a week of each other informed him that he had received two scholarships totaling $4,800.

Stewart has run with that second chance, receiving a Fulbright opportunity to travel to Scotland, a summer internship with a leading accounting firm, and the promise of a full ride at the University of Illinois to pursue his master’s degree.

Connecting donors with scholars

At the luncheon, history and political science major Jack Koenn ’21 of Dexter, Mich., met with David ’63 and Connie Acheson, who traveled to campus from Overland Park, Kan., as representatives of the Robert E. Acheson Scholarship.

“It’s so much fun to meet you,” Connie told him.

“I really don’t know what I’d do without the scholarship,” said Koenn, who also plays lacrosse for the Fighting Scots.

Koenn expected to attend a community college in Michigan, but the scholarship has helped him “have the opportunity to succeed both academically and athletically.”

Ruth Wright of Monmouth attended the luncheon as the donor of the A. Dean Wright Scholarship, named for her late husband, who was a Monmouth psychology professor. She was accompanied by her son, David, who traveled from his home in Ann Arbor, Mich., to be a part of the event.
“It’s so delightful to meet the students and hear what they want to do,” she said. “It’s just a real pleasure to be a part of it.”

Wright Scholarship recipient Lauren Sperry ’20 of Alexis, Ill., enjoyed the opportunity to meet the donor behind it.

“It was really nice to meet a scholarship donor, and since I’m from around here, I think we can maybe keep this relationship going,” she said.

Honors Convocation

Smiles – and hugs – were also part of the itinerary at the annual Honors Convocation, held Tuesday morning in Dahl Chapel and Auditorium. A full slate of departmental prizes and awards were presented to some of the “bright and aspiring” students President Wyatt mentioned.

Among those honored during the convocation were Keeley Brinkmeier of Mount Carroll, Ill., and Ezzie Baltierra-Chavez of Denver, who were named the Senior Woman of the Year and Freshman Woman of the Year, respectively, by the Mortar Board honor society. Receiving the Blue Key honor society’s Senior Man of the Year was John Hintz of South Pekin, Ill., while Troy Hippen of Monmouth received the Freshman Man of the Year honor.

The afternoon of Scholars Day was reserved for poster presentations from across the College’s curriculum, as students shared their research on topics ranging from integration amongst refugees in Jordan to modeling house prices in Chicagoland to their work with an aquatic drone.