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Four honored as students of year at Monmouth College

From left, Thomas Van Alstine, Alexis Brauer, Matt Barnes. Not pictured is Neddy Velez, who is participating in an off-campus study program in Chicago.
Four students received special awards at Monmouth College’s annual honors convocation on April 25.

Senior and Freshman Man of the Year honors were awarded by the Monmouth chapter of Blue Key Honor Society, a national organization recognizing upperclassmen for outstanding character and ability and for distinction in service, leadership and scholarship.

The Senior Man of the Year was Matt Barnes of Colfax, Ill. An accomplished leader, Barnes did much of that work on the football field, where he received back-to-back Elite 20 Awards as the top scholar-athlete among football players in the Midwest Conference. A finalist for the prestigious Gagliardi Trophy, recognizing the outstanding Division III player of the year, Barnes was an All-American linebacker for the Fighting Scots. He has also helped give back to the Monmouth community through his involvement with youth football camps and the Special Olympics. A double major in international business and Spanish, he is the son of Robert and Kathleen Barnes of Colfax.

Thomas Van Alstine of McHenry, Ill., was named Freshman Man of the Year. Van Alstine was involved in several activities in his first year on campus, including lacrosse, Chorale, The Scotsmen and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Next year, he will be a resident assistant and has been elected as vice president of recruitment for SigEp. A history major, he is the son of Terry and Theresa Van Alstine of McHenry.

Senior and Freshman Woman of the Year honors were awarded by the Tau Pi chapter of Mortar Board, a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for scholarship, leadership, service and scholarship.

The Senior Woman of the Year was awarded to Neriangela “Neddy” Velez of Chicago. Velez was cited for her “dedication to serving her community through leadership and scholarship. ... She left an impact on the many first-year women that lived in Liedman Hall that went to her for direction while she was both a resident assistant and the head resident.” Additionally, Velez founded the campus organization People of Change, which promotes awareness and conversation on topics that affect all people. She has also worked to connect the College with students at Monmouth’s Central Intermediate School. A business administration and wellness administration major, she is the daughter of Luz Velez of Chicago.

The Freshman Woman of the Year honor was presented to Alexis Brauer of Springfield, Ill. Brauer is part of the first class of Stockdale Leadership Fellows at Monmouth and also serves on the executive board of her women’s fraternity, Alpha Xi Delta. A biology major, she was recently inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society. Brauer is the daughter of Robert and Melanie Brauer of Springfield.