In uncertain times like these, the civic ideal that Abraham Lincoln represents is more important than ever. Lincoln was one of the most important leaders in American history, whose moral compass and firm resolve guided the country through one of the most difficult challenges to its very existence, the Civil War.
Fortunately, those same virtues can be seen in some Illinois’ exceptional students. Each year, 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. The award goes to students who have demonstrated an outstanding aptitude for leadership by exhibiting the virtues of Lincoln himself: courage, empathy, honesty, and integrity. The Governor bestows the awards upon the selected students, who become Student Laureates of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. In the spirit of Lincoln, Student Laureates are honored for their leadership and service in the pursuit of the betterment of humanity and for overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.
This year’s winner is Vontain Wray, a senior at National Louis University. Wray, a native of Chicago and a first-generation student, has been an excellent student leader at NLU. He has used his ethics, persistence, perseverance, and vision to help his community as well as others. En route to his goal of graduating, he has accomplished feats including being a part of the student advisory council, becoming an NSLS invitee, a board member for Eagle Brotherhood, and an advocate during his internship for the State Representative Kam Buckner.
Here is Vontain’s response to his selection for this year’s Lincoln Laureate award:
“To be nominated this year’s Lincoln Laureate Award winner is truly an honor to have this award bestowed upon me due to its exclusivity. Honestly, it feels like honorable recognition for the work that I have exhibited not only in the classroom but outside the classroom as well.
Overall, my experience at NLU has been a pleasure. I have traveled down a road not traveled by many by even embarking on a journey through college. I chose to go here based on my mentor being very intellectually inspiring. He taught me not to succumb to the temptation of comfort and complacency, but to explore depths of discomfort and hardship. Only in doing so did I realize that would be making use of the potential he had seen within me. Therefore, there couldn’t have been a better place than his alma mater to pursue my academic endeavors.
While here at NLU I have been accompanied by noteworthy staff who will forever hold a place in my heart moving forward in life. They have assisted me with cracking my social shell and expanding upon the potential previously seen within me. In doing so I am eternally grateful for the devotion made by those who saw more in me than I saw in myself.
Post-graduation I plan to pursue law school to become an attorney. My passion has always been fixated upon the legal setting. More specifically, I want to be able to provide legal expertise to those who may not be as well-versed in the law.”
Please join the NLU community in congratulating Vontain for this well-deserved honor!