Barry McNamara  |  Published October 26, 2021

Meet Our Lincoln Laureate

A student leader and scholar, Elizabeth Gustafson receives prestigious honor awarded to a Monmouth senior.

ELIZABETH GUSTAFSON: Senior with perfect GPA congratulated on her honor by Monmouth President Cla... ELIZABETH GUSTAFSON: Senior with perfect GPA congratulated on her honor by Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt.MONMOUTH, Ill.Elizabeth Gustafson ’22 of Kewanee, Illinois, was drawn to Monmouth College, in part, by the experience she saw her older sister, Alison Gustafson ’19, have on campus.

In May, Elizabeth will bookend the Gustafson sisters’ seven-year run on campus by speaking at Commencement as the recipient of this year’s Lincoln Laureate honor.

Each 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 Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and cocurricular activities.

“This honor is absolutely incredible,” said Gustafson. “I couldn’t believe I was chosen, but it’s one of the biggest honors I’ve ever received. It truly means the world to even be considered for the opportunity, let alone to be chosen for it.”

Perfect GPA, campus leader

The measurable part of Gustafson’s excellence in curricular activities cannot be topped. With a 4.0 grade-point average, the business administration and communication studies double major has been on the Dean’s List in each of her semesters at Monmouth.

She is also a member of the James and Sybil Stockdale Fellows Program. As a member of that leadership-driven initiative, she participated in alternative spring break trips and other campus community service projects, some of which she helped develop.

Gustafson has used her leadership skills to excel in her cocurricular activities. She is the lead mentor for the College’s First-Year Student Mentors Program. A member of the Alpha Lambda Delta and Lambda Pi Eta honor societies, Gustafson is actively involved in the Alpha Xi Delta women’s fraternity, serving in two vice presidential positions as well as academic achievement director.

“On tours I would always say that the thing that got me here was the individual attention from professors and just the relationships that you can build with them. That’s what drew me in.” Elizabeth Gustafson

“Being involved in all those cocurriculars is oftentimes what makes the college experience so special and unique,” she said. “Right from the jump my freshman year, I got involved in sororities on campus, and I started my first job as a Scot Ambassador the first month of school. Throughout my freshman year, I just kept adding on clubs and honor societies and jobs.”

As a Scot Ambassador, Gustafson played a key role in showing prospective students and families Monmouth’s campus while highlighting her own student experience.

“On tours I would always say that the thing that got me here was the individual attention from professors and just the relationships that you can build with them,” said Gustafson. “That’s what drew me in.”

A career in communication

Following graduation, Gustafson plans to pursue a career in marketing and public relations. She’s already off to a good start in that area, completing a summer marketing internship with Emerson Electric Co. in Rockford, Illinois, where she worked with a cross-functional team to optimize search engine capabilities, sharpen digital marketing techniques and enhance e-commerce systems. She’s also gained professional experience working as a social media marketing specialist for MIVA Boutique in Geneseo, Illinois.

“The people here are the best part. The community is why people stay at Monmouth. That’s my favorite part – just meeting all the wonderful friends and professors and everybody that I’ll know forever.” Elizabeth Gustafson

“It’s a very cool experience to learn from really knowledgeable professionals about marketing for a corporate-level company,” said Gustafson of her 40-hour-per-week internship, which she’s carried into part-time work this fall. “I’ve learned the most that it really just takes a team to complete all the tasks that need to be done. I’ve worked with a variety of people, and even though the parent company is a large company, we all work together for the common goal. It definitely takes a lot of teamwork.”

When she was considering which college to attend, having a sister already on campus helped her see the relational side of the Monmouth College experience.

“I think the thing that I’ve enjoyed most is just the sense of community that’s created on campus,” said Gustafson. “The people here are the best part. The community is why people stay at Monmouth. That’s my favorite part – just meeting all the wonderful friends and professors and everybody that I’ll know forever.”

Listen Up …

Hear Elizabeth Gustafson discuss her Monmouth experience on the 1853 podcast.

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