Scholar-Athlete Matt Ernst is McKendree University’s Lincoln Laureate

Lincoln Academy Honors Top Senior from Each Four-Year Institution in Illinois

Lebanon, Ill. — A scholar-athlete who has excelled in the classroom and on the gridiron is McKendree University’s 2012 Lincoln Laureate. Matt Ernst, a senior from Peoria, is majoring in computer science and minoring in mathematics and history. He was recognized on Nov. 3 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Each fall, the Lincoln Academy of Illinois awards an outstanding senior from each of the state’s four-year colleges and universities the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion for overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

A Dean’s List scholar and Presidential Scholarship recipient, Ernst’s academic achievements include “Who’s Who Among American Students in Colleges and Universities,” Phi Kappa Phi honor society, and the national honor societies for history, science and mathematics. He was recently installed as a charter member and president of Upsilon Pi Epsilon computing honor society.

Ernst was an offensive lineman for the McKendree Bearcats until an ankle injury during the Oct. 6 homecoming game ended his season. He is the university’s first football player to be chosen Lincoln Laureate. Dr. James Dennis, president, broke the news to the entire team during practice. “It was hard for me to go back to practice after that,” Ernst said.

He has been a resident assistant and computing lab worker for three years, volunteered for a robotics tournament on campus and an aftercare program, and serves on the senior class gift committee. He is a founding member, fundraising committee chair, vice president, and secretary of the Association of Computing Machinery.

“I always had an interest in technology but I never programmed until I got here. I’ve always liked the idea of creating something out of nothing,” Ernst said. He has successfully completed several software development projects as a student and studied new Hadoop data technology as a summer intern at MasterCard Worldwide.

Participating in football and serving as a resident assistant has introduced him to a variety of students across many academic disciplines. “I like interacting with the students, especially the freshmen. I like helping them learn about everything to get them on a similar path like I was,” he said.

After graduation in May, Ernst plans to work in software engineering or go to graduate school.

To learn more about the Lincoln Laureate program, visit




Photo of Matt Ernst

Matt Ernst. McKendree University’s 2012 Lincoln Laureate