Barry McNamara  |  Published May 16, 2023

Highlander Leadership Awards

Rathgeb, Dorn, Diaz among recipients of awards, which were presented during April 19 ceremony.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College celebrated the contributions of its outstanding student leaders, faculty and staff members at this year’s Highlander Awards ceremony, held April 19 in Mellinger Commons in the Center for Science and Business.

One of the most prestigious honors at the event was 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 campus. The recipient was Jake Rathgeb ’23 of Petersburg, Illinois.

JAKE RATHGEB: The senior from Petersburg, Illinois, received the White and Crimson Leadership Awa... JAKE RATHGEB: The senior from Petersburg, Illinois, received the White and Crimson Leadership Award. He is pictured with Dean of Students Karen Ogorzalek.“I cannot overstate the respect I have for Jake and the work he does on our campus,” wrote his nominator. “First off, he is just incredibly involved across campus,” including Zeta Beta Tau, the Interfraternity Council and Scots Student Senate – all organizations that he’s led as president – as well as Chorale, the Peer Educators Program and announcing athletic events.

“It’s pretty hard to deny that ZBT currently has some of the best operations/programs on this campus, and I fully believe that Jake’s leadership has been instrumental in the growth of that chapter,” wrote his nominator. “His dedication to putting on consistent chapter events and making members of Greek life visible on campus and in the community has really pushed all chapters – not just ZBT – to do their best.”

Emerging Leader Award

Ben Dorn ’24 of New Lenox, Illinois, 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.

A member of Phi Delta Theta, Dorn serves as the President of Interfraternity Council. Within his fraternity, he is the community service chair and warden.

BEN DORN: The junior from New Lenox, Illinois, who received the Emerging Leader Award, is picture... BEN DORN: The junior from New Lenox, Illinois, who received the Emerging Leader Award, is pictured with Dean for Student Success Michelle Merritt. “He is especially passionate about community service and putting fraternity members out in the community more to improve their reputation and give citizens of Monmouth a more accurate picture of what Greek life is,” wrote his nominator. “Ben is also really good at being kind and respectful to everyone, regardless of their Greek affiliation. It can be difficult to put aside your own chapter’s attitudes when leading a group like IFC, but I think Ben is doing a really good job so far at being fair and unbiased.”

Champion for Change Award

Jonathon “JD” Diaz ’23 of Chicago received the Champion for Change Award, a newly created recognition established to honor the life and legacy of Champion Miller, the first person of color to have affiliation with Monmouth College. The student who receives this award aligns with the character of its namesake – a champion for change for equity and inclusion.

JONATHON DIAZ: The senior from Chicago, who received the Champion for Change Award, is pictured w... JONATHON DIAZ: The senior from Chicago, who received the Champion for Change Award, is pictured with Director of Student Equity, Inclusion & Community Regina Johnson.Diaz was cited by his nominator for his leadership, reliability, fostering of community and integrity to the group and to his peers.

“JD is so selfless when it comes to supporting people,” wrote his nominator. “He shows courtesy, respect and patience in all spaces.”

Other students who were honored at this year’s Highlander Leadership Awards include:
* Peer Mentor of the Year: Dani Hagens ’23 of Aledo, Illinois;
* Good Neighbor Award: Jeff Schnetzler ’25 of Metamora, Illinois;
* Student Employee of the Year: Lillian Hucke ’24 of Oquawka, Illinois.

Faculty and staff honored were:
* Monmouth Difference Maker Award: Communication Studies Professor Trudi Peterson;
Advisor Excellence Award: Psychology Professor Sydney Greenwalt;
Outstanding Career Mentor: Director of Student Equity, Inclusion & Community Regina Johnson.

Organizations and programs honored were:

* Service Excellence Award: Phi Delta Theta;
* Organization Excellence Award: Mental Health Peer Educators;
* Kaleidoscope Award: Safe Zone Training Program.

“It was a good year overall for Phi Delta Theta, as they won Service Excellence and Ben Dorn won Emerging Leader,” said Cullen Marshall ’22, Monmouth’s assistant director of fraternity and sorority life and student engagement. “Coincidentally, in his role as president of the IFC, Ben had already scheduled for IFC to receive the training for Safe Zone, which won the Kaleidoscope Award. And Jake Rathgeb has previously acted as IFC president as well, so there’s a lot of connections there.”

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