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2011 Lincoln Laureate is a Scholar-Activist

Photo of Michael AndersonMichael Anderson ’12 was selected as a Lincoln Academy Student Laureate for 2011, a statewide honor that recognizes his impressive accomplishments as a scholar, activist and student leader.

The Lincoln Academy of Illinois gives the prestigious annual award for excellence in curricular and co-curricular activities to one outstanding college senior from each four-year institution. Michael received the award medallion during a ceremony held at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. on Nov. 5.

The international relations and religion double major from Shiloh, Ill., was nominated by faculty members from the social science and humanities divisions, who described him as “intellectually curious… a true scholar who believes in the power of political action to change the world.”

Michael has maintained a nearly perfect 4.0 grade point average while leading several campus organizations, working as a research assistant for two professors, and tutoring in the Writing Resource Center.

“I’ve always felt a natural want to participate in things bigger than myself. My parents instilled that in me early on. Here I feel I can actually do things to make a difference. McKendree and my professors have given me a lot of opportunities,” he said.

Michael describes himself as “a believer but not a member of any organized religion,” who likes to read about different faith traditions. He is a founding member and the current president of McKendree’s Interfaith Council, which brings together students from faith and non-faith traditions to serve the community. It is his proudest accomplishment, he says.

As a freshman, he was among the few male members to join the Young Feminists group on campus, an organization he now leads as its 2011-12 president. “I have always believed that you treat people as you want to be treated. It felt natural to me to join,” he explained. “I would like to see the organization become more ‘activist-y,’ to step up our political activity.”

Currently Michael is also an officer in the University’s Oxfam America international relief organization, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Sigma Alpha national honor societies, Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, Spectrum Alliance, and the new Philosophy Club.

Michael says he is motivated by “a general sense of wanting to do good. My sense of morality wants me to make this place better, a more socially conscious place. These are movements that raise issues. I try to get people involved in big things. These are big issues that everybody should be aware of. I guess I’m just a student wanting to do things.”

After he graduates from McKendree in May, he plans to study constructive theology in graduate school, work toward a Ph.D. and eventually teach academic theology.

The Lincoln Laureate is his second major honor in 2011. Earlier this year, he received the Study Abroad Excellence Award at King’s College in London, where he spent the spring semester of his junior year.

Regarding his most recent achievement, Michael said, “It was nice to be nominated. I was really surprised at first and then I became strangely reflective. It makes me realize how much I have done.”