Acadia Reynolds is McKendree University's Student Lincoln Laureate
Lincoln Academy of Illinois Honors the State’s Top College Seniors
(LEBANON, Ill., November 14, 2016) — Acadia Reynolds, a McKendree University senior from New Orleans, La., was honored for excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities by the Lincoln Academy on Nov. 12. The Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award—the state’s highest student honor—was presented to an outstanding scholar from each Illinois college and university at the annual Student Laureate Convocation at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.
“Acadia exemplifies the characteristics of a successful School of Education major, that of a caring practitioner, lifelong learner and knowledgeable professional,” said Dr. Christine Bahr, provost. “She is described as passionate and confident but also as someone who truly wants to understand the viewpoints of others. Her classmates look to her as a leader in the classroom, in part because of her positive attitude and sincerity.”
Reynolds arrived at the Lebanon, Ill., campus in 2013 by way of Ghana, West Africa, where she taught primary school as an American Field Service volunteer for 10 months. The experience fueled her desire to become a teacher.
A commitment to civic engagement is a defining characteristic of every Student Laureate. Reynolds has demonstrated a keen interest in social justice issues and a strong sense of duty and responsibility. Working closely with the university’s Center for Community Service, she has created new program ideas and outreach, such as an after-school enrichment program at the Griffin Center in East St. Louis. As Young Feminists president, she coordinated events to promote awareness of domestic and sexual violence, and as a residence hall community coordinator, spearheaded a program called “Catcalling and Social Media.” As creator of the “Still Not Asking for It” demonstration, she aimed to bring to light the harassment women often encounter when expressing body confidence.
In 2015 she was rewarded for her commitment to community service by being named a Newman Civic Fellow, one of 201 student leaders across the U.S. chosen by 1,100 college and university presidents. As a sophomore, she was selected for the university’s Student Hall of Fame, and received “The Spark” award in 2014 for leadership and contributions to campus organzations.
The Lincoln Laureate ceremony was a moving experience for Reynolds. “Standing on the same floor as Abraham Lincoln in the historic walls of Illinois’ State Capitol, I believe anyone who is an advocate for justice and equality would've teared up,” she said. “What truly had me so open in that moment was what was shared by the chancellor of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Quoting both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama, she urged us to deeply understand the concept that while the arc of the moral universe is long and it bends towards justice, it also does not move on its own.
“If I could say one thing to McKendree’s student body, I'd tell them to be that force. My lifelong passion, and one that has continuously been lit again and again by my experience here at McKendree, is to be an active participant in positive change—locally, globally, and personally.”
Acadia Reynolds, McKendree University Student Lincoln Laureate