Barry McNamara  |  Published April 26, 2024

Students of the Year

Hucke, Kelly named top seniors at Monmouth; freshmen Crims, Morrow also honored.

STUDENTS OF THE YEAR: Pictured from left are Monmouth College's Senior Woman of the Year Lillian Hucke and the Freshman... STUDENTS OF THE YEAR: Pictured from left are Monmouth College's Senior Woman of the Year Lillian Hucke and the Freshman Man and Woman of the Year, Payton Crims and Natalie Morrow. Not pictured is Senior Man of the Year Elijah Kelly, who was student teaching during the awards ceremony.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Four students have received top awards for the 2023-24 academic year at Monmouth College.

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 – named Elijah Kelly of Aledo, Illinois, the Senior Man of the Year and Payton Crims of Alsip, Illinois, the Freshman Man of the Year.

Kelly served as president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, helping the fraternity earn academic excellence awards. He is also a dedicated member of several Monmouth music groups, including Chorale, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, the Fighting Scots Marching Band and Pep Band.

“Elijah Kelly is a friendly face to everyone on campus and gets along with anyone as he continues to strive for excellence,” wrote his nominator.

Crims has already taken on several leadership roles on campus, including the inaugural diversity, equity and inclusion chair for Scots Student Senate. A member of the men’s basketball team who’s majoring in communication studies, Crims has participated in moot court, the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity and SOFIA summer research.

Women of the Year

The Tau Pi chapter of Mortar Board – a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for scholarship, leadership and service – named Lillian Hucke of Aledo the Senior Woman of the Year and Natalie Morrow of Silvis, Illinois, the Freshman Woman of the Year.

Already named last fall as Monmouth’s Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois – the College’s most prestigious honor for current students – Hucke was described by her nominator as “an engaged member of our college who exemplifies Mortar Board’s founding ideals. … Regarding scholarship, Lillian is an exceptional student whose natural intellect is matched by her work ethic.”

Hucke serves as an academic coach, working with struggling students, and she’s a Scots Ambassador, serving as “the face of Monmouth College” as she meets prospective students and their families.

The four-year member of the Fighting Scots softball team is president of Monmouth’s chapter of Psi Chi, the psychology honor society, and was awarded a $750 grant to promote the dissemination and excellence of psychological science – reflecting both her strong writing skills and her creativity of thought.

One of Morrow’s nominators wrote that she “exemplifies the idea of ‘becoming a learner’ that we discuss with all of our students at the start of the first-year course, ‘Inquiry and Identity.’ … Natalie is interested in learning and questioning, supporting others and making the world a better place.”

Morrow is a member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority, serving as AXD’s delegate on the College’s Panhellenic Council, and plays on the women’s soccer team. A Stockdale Fellow, she was instrumental in bringing the Foster’s Voice suicide prevention program to campus in March.

“Natalie is very attentive, responsive and reliable,” wrote another nominator. “She always has a smile on her face, and I’ve never heard her say a negative word about anyone.”

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