Barry McNamara  |  Published May 26, 2020

Students of the Year

Zelinda Taylor named Senior Woman of the Year; Mike Bersell named Senior Man of the Year; Madison Meldrum named Freshman Woman of the Year; and Max Cook named Freshman Man of the Year.
TOPS IN THEIR CLASSES: Meet the Senior and Freshmen women and men of the year.
TOPS IN THEIR CLASSES: Meet the Senior and Freshmen women and men of the year.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A biochemistry major, an exercise science major, a triple major in accounting, business and economics, and an economics major received Monmouth College’s most prestigious student honors for the 2019-20 academic year – Senior and Freshman Woman and Man of the Year.
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.

Zelinda Taylor of Springfield, Ill., who graduated on May 17 with a degree in biochemistry, was named Senior Woman of the Year. She transformed from a self-described “timid freshman” to hold several leadership positions, including three vice president roles in her women’s fraternity, Pi Beta Phi. Taylor also served as president of the College’s chapters of the Order of Omega and the American Chemical Society, as well as captain of the softball team.

“When I came to Monmouth as a freshman, I did not envision myself as someone who would take on leadership roles,” said Taylor, who was also a member of Mortar Board and Alpha Lambda Delta, the national academic honor society for freshmen. “Each of my leadership roles taught me something different and those lessons learned will guide me into the next chapter of my life. The timid freshman who almost left during her first week at Monmouth and the woman I am today are two completely different people.”

Taylor will spend the next year working as a medical scribe at a local hospital.

Madison Meldrum, an exercise science major from Colona, Ill., was honored as the Freshman Woman of the Year. On campus, she is involved in Scots in Commerce, Rotaract, the women’s soccer and lacrosse teams, and the Wind Ensemble. She is an officer in her women’s fraternity, Alpha Xi Delta, and is a member of the kinesiology honor society and Alpha Lambda Delta.

“Off campus, I love to do anything active or helping others,” said Meldrum, who will be one of the College’s orientation leaders in the fall. “I volunteer at my local soccer fields and my local grade school doing whatever is needed. I am a very active and caring person who loves to see others happy.”

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, Mike Bersell of Galva, Ill., was praised by his nominator for being “incredibly involved.” A triple major in accounting, economics and business administration, Bersell was a member of four honor societies: Blue Key, Alpha Lambda Delta, Mortar Board and Sigma Beta Delta, the international honor society in business, management and administration. He ran cross country and track and was a teaching assistant or tutor for managerial accounting, economics and accounting. Also a resident assistant, Bersell was a member of the Business Economics Club and the Accounting Society.

“I had always been an involved member of my class in high school, and it only felt natural to do the same at Monmouth,” said Bersell, who has been hired for a full-time position in the investment accounting department at Deere & Co. “While at Monmouth, I was able to concentrate my involvement within organizations relevant to my majors. It helped me develop my leadership skills and taught me to appreciate people with diverse opinions.”

Max Cook of Dunlap, Ill., was honored as Freshman Man of the Year. The economics major is on the pre-professional track for actuarial science. His involvements include the golf team, Scots in Commerce and the Stockdale Fellows program. In the fall, Cook will be a student mentor for the College’s “Introduction to Liberal Arts” course.

“While I wish I was as involved as some of my other peers, volunteering is a good way for me to find new passions and do the things that I love to do more,” said Cook. “Being involved gives me a fulfilling feeling that motivates me to do more.”

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