Barry McNamara  |  Published October 08, 2020

Doner named Student Laureate

French and international studies double major selected as Monmouth’s Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

MONMOUTH, Ill.Joe Doner of Arlington Heights, Ill. – one of the most accomplished and involved students in Monmouth College’s Class of 2021 – has been named the College’s Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Every fall, an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award and thereby becomes a Lincoln Laureate. Honored for their overall excellence in curricular and co-curricular activities, Monmouth recipients typically speak at their Commencement ceremony the following spring.

STUDENT LAUREATE: Joe Doner is congratulated on his honor from The Lincoln Academy of Illinois by... STUDENT LAUREATE: Joe Doner is congratulated on his honor from The Lincoln Academy of Illinois by Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt.​A double major in international studies and French, Doner is also minoring in environmental studies and political science.

“Being a Lincoln Laureate is to be a good example of what your school wants to see in a student – to be involved in the community and to be involved in the curriculars and cocurriculars, as well as getting good grades,” said Doner, when asked what the honor means to him.

Good grades are certainly part of Doner’s impressive résumé. He’s a member of four honor societies – Blue Key, Mortar Board, Alpha Lambda Delta and Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society – and received the Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures Department Award. A three-time finalist in the College’s Moot Court competition, he’s a member of the College’s highly selective James and Sybil Stockdale Fellows Program and is a recipient of the College Trustee’s Scholarship.

Becoming a Scot

As a high school student, Doner was familiar with the College thanks to his family passing through Monmouth on family trips to Nauvoo, Ill. When it came time to search for a college, that familiarity led him to look deeper into Monmouth.

“I saw a Monmouth booth at a college fair and thought, ‘Well, we pass by it all the time. Let’s go see what’s going on,’” he said. “I was charmed by everything that Monmouth had to offer,” including the many opportunities to be an actively involved student.

Doner has served as president of the Monmouth College Democrats and Students for Environmental Awareness, as well as parliamentarian for the student governing body. He’s also been political editor for the student newspaper, the Courier; served as a tutor to first-generation students and as an English as a second language tutor in the community; and worked on the College’s audio-visual crew for three years.

A Scot in Scotland

During the summer of 2018, Doner was a paid intern on Ann Gillespie’s state senatorial campaign, and he also served as a delegate to the United Nations Youth Assembly that August. In 2019, he was a Fulbright Summer Institute Student and spent most of the summer attending classes and lectures in Scotland at the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde.

Later that year, he was nominated for the Campus Compact Census Fellows Program and became the Campus Compact Fellow for Monmouth. In that role, he organized campus events to raise awareness about the census among the student body and coordinated with the local Complete Count Committee to help ensure that as many Monmouth residents as possible were accurately counted in the census.

“I really enjoy the personal relationships you’re able to forge with your professors. I’ve been to most of my professors’ houses at some point for a meal or a meeting. You don’t get that everywhere.​” Joe Doner’ 21

Throughout his Monmouth experience, one element has stood out above all others: the ability for meaningful connections with the College’s faculty.

“I really enjoy the personal relationships you’re able to forge with your professors,” he said. “I’ve been to most of my professors’ houses at some point for a meal or a meeting. You don’t get that everywhere. You don’t get to meet your professor’s kids and give them advice on how to pick a college. The really great personal relationships you can make is what makes Monmouth unique for me.”

Many of those professors teach in the areas of international studies and foreign languages.

“Something I really like about international studies and French is not only that they go together really well, but I appreciate all the options it gives me in terms of things I can do and places I can go, because the French-speaking world is much wider than people think it is,” said Doner. “There’s always going to be a need for someone who knows how to translate or talk across a table between two people.”

Après Monmouth, faculté de droit

Doner is the second Monmouth French major in as many years to receive the Lincoln Laureate honor. And, like last year’s honoree, Hadley Smithhisler ’20, Doner also plans to attend law school following graduation.

“I’m going to take a year or two off,” said Doner of his initial post-Monmouth plans. “Maybe do some work with AmeriCorps while studying for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and looking to apply to a law school,” with a dream goal being “to run a consulate through the foreign service.”​

Listen Up …

Joe Doner discusses being named a Lincoln Laureate.​​

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