Jessica Lirios Honored for Academics, International Awareness

McKendree University Graduate Wins 2018 Technos Prize

(LEBANON, Ill., May 12, 2018) — Jessica Lirios, a 2018 McKendree University summa cum laude graduate from Greenville, Ill., ended her college career applauded for her academic excellence and efforts to improve international understanding, as winner of the Technos International Prize.

Through the continuing generosity of the Tanaka Ikueikai Educational Trust, one graduating senior is selected for the honor each year by the faculty. It was given at the undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 12 at the Lebanon, Ill., campus.

Lirios was an honors program student who majored in psychology, minored in Spanish, and earned membership in Phi Kappa Phi, Psi Chi, Pi Gamma Mu and Phi Eta Sigma honor societies. In 2017, she was selected by Campus Compact as a Newman Civic Engagement Fellow for her motivation and commitment to social change. She spent a week that summer in Nicaragua with other McKendreans on a cultural immersion trip. On campus, she was active with the Lyn Huxford Center for Community Service’s McCAT team and Define American.

“Jessie has been an outstanding student, a leader among her peers and an emerging global citizen who is clearly worthy of the Technos International Prize,” said Dr. Christine Bahr, provost and dean. “She thinks like a scientist, asks good questions, and challenges ideas brought up in class. She often initiated classroom dialogue and helped her fellow students understand difficult concepts.”

While studying abroad in Spain in 2016, Lirios worked with mentors to provide long-term missionary work. The services she provided, such as feeding refugee children or as listening to lonely people’s problems, impacted their physical and psychological health.

“Jessie says, ‘I care about people – the families who don’t have homes, the mothers who don’t have support, the kids who don’t have love. I care about individuals who feel alone and have been taught that their voices don’t matter. I’m excited to show them that they do,’” Bahr told the commencement audience. “It is clear that Jessie feels a calling to improve international understanding one person at a time.”

Lirios will continue this summer as a respite outreach worker with Children's Home & Aid. In August, she will depart for the World Race, a discipleship program combined with an 11-month mission trip to 11 countries: Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

“Our missions work can look like a lot of different things, working with people from all sorts of backgrounds,” she said. “It could be homeless outreach, teaching English, construction projects, working with children, trafficking survivors, HIV/AIDS patients, or even hiking a mountain and talking to other hikers along the way.”


Jessica Lirios, McKendree University 2018 summa cum laude graduate and winner of the Technos International Prize

Jessica Lirios, McKendree University 2018 summa cum laude graduate and winner of the Technos International Prize