Founders, Senior of the Year Award Winners Announced

May 8, 2018 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

During the annual Founders’ Honors Convocation ceremony, 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 individual student achievement awards were among a number of academic awards, research grants, scholarships and other recognitions of achievement that were celebrated during the Founders’ Honors Convocation, held Thursday, May 3, in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel.

“I am gratified to see how many of you are earning special recognition in a variety of areas, from departmental and faculty awards to student leadership and team awards,” President Troy D. VanAken said during the ceremony. “We’ve challenged you to perform at your very best, both inside and outside the classroom, and you have more than met the challenge.”

The Founders Award: The Courage to Change 2018 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 College community; a second is given for service to the greater society; and a third, the Cureton Award, is given for service to the global community. Candidates are nominated by members of the College community.

  • Estrella Vargas, a senior from Streamwood, Ill., received the Founders Award for Service to the College Community. A first-generation college student majoring in political science and intercultural studies, Vargas cites leadership roles in the Black Student Union and HABLAMOS as helping her to develop a passion for political activism and working toward diversity and inclusivity, not only in the Elmhurst community but also in the broader society. She also has held leadership positions in the Student Government Association, first as vice president of administration and currently as president.
  • Nora Dixon, a senior from Carson, Calif., received the Founders Award for Service to the Greater Society. Dixon, who is majoring in kinesiology and Spanish, became involved in various activities starting from her first days on campus. She joined her sorority, Sigma Kappa, her first year and rose through the membership to serve the organization as president; she recently was named Elmhurst’s Organization President of the Year. She also served the College as an Orientation Student Leader, welcoming incoming first-year students to campus. In addition, Dixon has worked extensively as a job coach, life coach and teacher’s assistant in the Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy (ELSA).
  • Rebecca Vogt, a senior from Mt. Pleasant, Wis., received the Founders Award known as the Cureton Award for Service to the Global Community. A special education and Spanish major, Vogt was enticed by the liberal arts experience when she made the decision to come to Elmhurst. She took full advantage of those opportunities and studied abroad three times in her four years, including a full semester in Ecuador. Vogt recently received a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student award, which will enable her to spend a year in Argentina working as an English teaching assistant.

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 passionate about continuing the Elmhurst College tradition.

The 2018 Senior of the Year is Esther Pereira, an elementary education major from Chicago. Pereira is a first-generation college student who was involved in a number of campus organizations. She joined Alpha Phi Omega, where she later became pledge trainer and vice president of membership. She also was a member of the Cooperative Funding Board and president of Student Government Association. During her tenure as the SGA president, Pereira oversaw the renovation of The Roost, among other projects.

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