President Troy D. VanAken, Natalia Bedtke, Georgia Petersen and Rebecca Britt
President VanAken and Erik Maranto
During its annual Founders’ Honors Convocation ceremony on May 4, Elmhurst College announced the recipients of the Founders Award and the Senior of the Year Award, which are among the College’s top honors for individual student achievement.
The Founders Award: The Courage to Change 2017 comprises three awards, each recognizing self-initiated service that brings about change and embodies humane values. One Founders Award is given for service to the campus; a second is given for service to the community beyond campus; and a third is given for service to the world. Candidates are nominated by members of the College community.
Natalia Bedtke, a junior from Medinah, Ill., received the Founders Award for Service to the College Community. She is the founder and an executive member of the Student Alumni Association. She is was an orientation student leader, student ambassador, student assistant for the men’s basketball team and vice president of Relay for Life. She also is a part of Athletes in Action, Project Care, Best Buddies and the Honors Program. She describes her college experience as “a door to a whole new world filled with opportunity, adventure and significance.”
Rebecca Britt, of Highland Park, Ill., won the Founders Award for Service to the Greater Society. A December 2016 graduate, Britt was a member of the Catholic Student Association, Spiritual Life Council and the Residence Hall Association. She has participated in Safe Zone Training and is a trained facilitator for Ask Big Questions. “[My] commitment to my faith and service to humanity has become a huge part of who I am,” she said, “and I am incredibly grateful to the Elmhurst College spiritual community.”
Georgia Petersen, a senior from Des Plaines, received the Founders Award known as the Cureton Award for Service to the Global Community. She was the head basketball coach for the ELSA Special Olympics team and co-founder of Special Olympics at Elmhurst College. Petersen also was the philanthropy chair for the National Student Speech Hearing Language Association, an orientation student leader coordinator, a student ambassador and a Best Buddies peer. Her study-abroad experiences took her to Spain, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. “My Elmhurst experience has provided numerous opportunities for leadership development, service to others and professional growth,” she said.
The Senior of the Year Award is a highly sought-after award whose winner is selected by a special committee of the Elmhurst College Alumni Association. The winner excels in academics and campus involvement, and is committed to continuing the Elmhurst College tradition. The 2017 Senior of the Year is Erik Maranto, a business management major from Mokena, Ill. An enthusiastic member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity, Maranto served in a variety of philanthropic and leadership roles. He created a 5K and served in a leadership capacity for Relay for Life for all four years at Elmhurst. He also participated in a variety of other campus activities, including Habitat for Humanity, Union Board and Best Buddies. He shared his enthusiasm for Elmhurst with prospective students as a student ambassador; with new students as an orientation student leader; and with alumni and the college community by serving on the Inauguration Planning and Senior Gift committees. He also was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi, Delta Mu Delta and Gamma Sigma Alpha honor and recognition societies.