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Highlander Leadership Awards presented at ceremony

Barry McNamara
In the front row are, from left, Lizbeth Gutierrez; Marilyn Carteno and Brenda Matias Cruz both representing Raices, along with Gutierrez; accounting professor Judy Peterson, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance; chemistry professor Laura Moore; Kara Fisher; and C.J. Bonifer. In the back row are, from left, Magdalynne Bruckner; Director of Academic Support Programs Kamilah Williams; Jacob Durdan; Larry Haynes; Jeren Stewart and Vicki Ly, both representing the Associated Students of Monmouth College; and Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Max Seisser.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. — Leadership was celebrated April 24 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.

Magdalynne Bruckner ’20 of Aurora, 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. Bruckner was recently reelected to another one-year term as president of the Associated Students of Monmouth College (ASMC), the College’s student governing body, making her the first two-term president in recent memory.

“One of the things about Maggie that has made the biggest difference is her concern about providing an inclusive experience for students and wanting students to feel welcome,” said Dean of Students Laura Hutchinson. “Almost her entire platform with ASMC is, ‘How can we make this a campus that includes everyone?’ She’s very quick to draw in voices that she thinks might not be listened to as carefully as others.”

Larry Haynes ’19 of Chicago 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.

“When you picture your perfect friend, he’s that friend that you paint,” said Terrence Best ’21 of Belleville, N.J., one of several students Haynes has mentored during his time at Monmouth. “People glow, they light up when he’s around. He knows everybody. I call him ‘Mr. President.’”

C.J. Bonifer ’22 of Greensburg, Ky., received 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.

Other students honored were: Kara Fisher ’22 of Monmouth (Big Red Spirit Award); Jacob Durdan ’20 of Flanagan, Ill. (Student Employee of the Year); Lizbeth Gutierrez ’21 of Chicago (Leadership Excellence); and Kierra King ’20 of Elgin, Ill. (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.

Chemistry professor Laura Moore was presented the Advisor Excellence Award; staff member Max Seisser received the Monmouth Difference Maker Award; and staff member Kamilah Williams 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.”

Danny Milosevich ’20 of Darien, Ill., said Seisser’s input made all the difference for him when he was considering leaving Monmouth a year ago.

“One of the most defining moments of my college career so far has come from an interaction with Max,” said Milosevich. “I told him ‘I feel like I’m wasting my opportunity here at Monmouth. I just feel lost.’ Max looked me in the eye and he said, ‘I believe you can do everything you want to here, and I want to be the person who makes sure that happens.’ And I made the decision to believe him. It was a tipping point.”

“If students haven’t gotten to know Max, they need to get to know him,” said Associate Dean of Students Karen Ogorzalek.

The College’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program received the Service Excellence Award, Raices earned the Organization Excellence Award and the ASMC’s “My Story” program received the Kaleidoscope Award for a creative program that improves the Monmouth community. Held during Family Weekend last fall, the new event featured members of the Monmouth community sharing their personal stories.