In addition to some 815 undergraduate and graduate students who received degrees, a highlight of North Central College’s 149th Commencement was the presentation of special awards.
President Troy Hammond announced Herman B. White Jr., Ph.D., was the recipient of the Gael D. Swing Award for Meritorious Service, John Thorne was recognized with the Harold and Eva White First Citizen of the College Award and graduating senior A.J. Thomas won the Mark A. Reid Leadership Award. Kimberly Sluis, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, honored former student Maggie Youel with the establishment of the Margaret Youel Award.
The Gael D. Swing Award, named for North Central’s eighth president, recognizes extraordinary contributions to the life of the College. In addition to serving on North Central College’s Board of Trustees, White has shared his academic and scientific expertise as a North Central Corridor Fellow, adjunct professor, mentor and special event speaker. He is a senior scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and has been recognized with international awards for his scientific leadership and role as a history-making scientist.
Hammond said, “Quiet, unassuming, humble, [Herman] stands tall among the men and women who have ultimate responsibility for the College’s success. This loyalty exemplifies a personal dedication that inspires all who have the pleasure of serving with him.”
The Harold and Eva White First Citizen of the College Award honors a North Central faculty, staff or student who exemplifies the best of North Central College. Thorne has served as head football coach since 2002 and is North Central’s all-time leader in football coaching victories and winning percentage with a 110-28 overall and 70-14 conference record.
Hammond said, “[John] leads ... he inspires ... he encourages ... he builds loyalty and character, and encourages Christian service. He sets priorities that place academic achievement and life success above athletic success. And every fall, he shapes a collection of young men of all abilities and backgrounds into a continuing success story.”
The Mark A. Reid Leadership Award is named for Mark Reid, who was a campus leader and president of the Student Governing Association (SGA) when he was killed in an auto accident in 1984. Each year the senior class chooses a deserving senior in Reid’s honor. Thomas, a psychology major, was a talented athlete on the football field and served the campus with his leadership and energy through the SGA and as a student liaison with the trustees.
The Margaret Youel Award was introduced at this year’s Commencement to honor Maggie Youel, who played on the Cardinal tennis team and studied Spanish. She suffered a sudden stroke during her sophomore year two years ago. She required a lengthy hospital stay and extensive therapy and continues to recover at home with the help of her family.
Sluis said, “The new award honors her perseverance, tenacity and spirit … and will be given to a student who reflects her character, dedication and attitude—a resilience that means never giving up, despite the odds.” The first Margaret Youel Award will be presented in 2015.
Youel was presented with a North Central College medallion, which honors outstanding members of the North Central family. Also, a video greeting by U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk was shown to the assembly. Sen. Kirk was inspired by Youel’s attitude and hard work while they both were patients at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in Wheeling. Click here to view the senator’s greeting.