Barry McNamara  |   Published October 23, 2019

‘Using Her Education to Improve the Lives of Others’

Mega-involved Hadley Smithhisler named Monmouth’s Student Laureate of Lincoln Academy.
  • Hadley Smithhisler is congratulated on her Student Laureate honor by Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – One of Monmouth College’s most involved and accomplished seniors has added another honor to her long list of accomplishments.

Hadley Smithhisler ’20 of Valley City, N.D., is Monmouth’s 2019 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 becomes a Student Laureate of the academy. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and cocurricular activities.

Hadley’s travels

It’s not the first time that one of Smithhisler’s honors has been connected to a U.S. president. In 2018, she was selected to participate in the prestigious Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows Program in Fairfax County, Va. She spent six weeks working in and around George Washington’s home, studying the first American president among other features of the program.

“I have experience drawing from presidents and finding their leadership legacy and looking at the complexity of the decisions they made,” said Smithhisler, who is majoring in history and French. “This incredible honor is going to allow me to look at Lincoln and see what I can learn from his legacy.”

The summer following her six weeks at Mount Vernon, Smithhisler returned to the East coast, participating in a program sponsored by the Fund for American Studies, where she was an intern with the National Down Syndrome Society’s National Advocacy & Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

In between, she enjoyed a semester in France, studying at the Université De Franche Comté in Besançon.

“Hadley is extremely well organized, self-driven confident, and intelligent,” said her adviser, history professor Amy de Farias. “She is the best history major we have ever had at Monmouth. Hadley has the enviable ability to sift through an enormous amount of primary documents – in English and French – and present original interpretations.”

Law and leadership

In a few days, Smithhisler will once again participate in the College’s annual Moot Court Competition. She received the Top Advocate award at the last two competitions, fitting for a student who is planning to attend law school after her graduation in May. She plans to use the law degree to help open doors in social justice and advocacy work.

When she enrolled at Monmouth in 2016, Smithhisler was a member of the inaugural class of the College’s James and Sybil Stockdale Fellows Program, a prestigious scholarship, leadership and enrichment program. Through the program, she has participated in alternative spring break service trips and presented at the Lead365 national conference. She has also worked as a Stockdale Fellows leadership intern with the College’s Wackerle Center for Career, Leadership and Fellowships.

Other leadership roles that Smithhisler has assumed on campus include serving as president of Rotaract, vice president of the Monmouth chapter of Phi Alpha Theta history honorary society and secretary of the Blue Key honor society. She is also a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society. A writing tutor and a cellist in the Monmouth College Chamber Orchestra, she has also served as an international orientation leader.

All-around excellence

Smithhisler has held several positions with the College’s Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research (MJUR) and currently serves as the coordinating editor. She has researched and presented on numerous topics, including her senior capstone research, titled, “Bertha Lutz, Brazil and Pan American Feminism in the 1920s-30s,” which de Farias called “pathbreaking.” She also completed a research project as a freshman, titled “Echoes of World War II,” which was an oral history of local U.S. service members.

Smithhisler received first place in the Monmouth College Speaker Showcase in 2017 and has received the Garvin F. Davenport Prize in history, the William Urban History Prize for the top research paper, and the M.P. Phelps Award for a student who exemplifies all-around excellence.

“Aside from Hadley’s outstanding academic success, she also excels outside of the classroom as a fierce moot court competitor, a devoted coordinating editor of MJUR, and a leader with a passion for making a difference in her community,” said political science professor Andre Audette. “I think Hadley’s commitment to using her education to improve the lives of others exemplifies why she is most deserving of this prestigious honor.”

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