Humanitarian Award Winners Reflect Spirit of MLK

Lebanon, Ill. — McKendree University celebrated the spirit and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and gave its annual Humanitarian Awards to two students and a local resident on Jan. 23 in Bothwell Chapel.

The annual awards are given to members or friends of the university community who demonstrate increased understanding and tolerance for all people; embrace humanitarian principles and ideals; and lead or participate in programs or service that reflect these ideals.

This year the winners are Ariel Collins, a senior sociology-social work major and speech communication minor from East St. Louis; Jennifer Stroot, a senior elementary education major from O’Fallon; and Patty Taylor, a Lebanon area resident and volunteer.

Collins, who has been a resident assistant, homecoming court candidate and chair for an honor society, was recognized for her work with many behind the scenes. One who nominated her noted, “Her enthusiasm and care for others has made a difference. When a student is having a bad day, she knows what to say to encourage them. She has made it her mission to learn about diversity and to treat others fairly no matter what makes them ‘different.’ She is always there to lend a hand and assist.”

Stroot has been a Community Service Scholar for the last three years. One professor noted that she is “an excellent role model in terms of embracing differences and striving to always put others first.” She has held numerous leadership roles in the service community, including coordinator of the Bridge the Divide and Hunger and Homelessness programs. She has been active in the Girl Scouts, McKendree Interfaith Club, Spanish Club and Students with Disabilities Club.

Taylor gives much of her time, energy and expertise to improve the Lebanon community and the university. She works tirelessly on Garden Club projects, running several gardens, plant sales and garden tours. Over the last four years, she has volunteered hundreds of hours to support a “garden to table” program for Lebanon Kids and for McKendree University. She helped to develop the university’s gardens, teaching students how to tend them and how to harvest and cook the vegetables they grow. She also shares her enthusiasm for gardening and healthy eating with Cedar Ridge Nursing Home. She has been active in the Lions Club, collecting eyeglasses and hearing aids, and getting medical assistance for those in need; and worked with the diabetes awareness program to offer free screenings for local residents.

Keynote preacher for the MLK program was Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton, episcopal leader of the Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church since 2012.


Photo of Jennifer Stroot, Patty Taylor, and Ariel Collins

McKendree University’s 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr., Humanitarian Awards Winners

Jennifer Stroot, Patty Taylor and Ariel Collins