2011 Lincoln Laureate winner a CAS student

SIUE’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) added another Lincoln Laureate student into the ranks this semester. Jenna Schneider, a double major in political science and economics and finance was awarded the honor this past month in Springfield, IL.

Denise DeGarmo, left, stands with Jenna Schneider, center, at the Lincoln Laureate award banquet in Springfield, IL. photo courtesy of DeGarmo.

The Lincoln Laureate is an award “to honor individuals whose contributions to the betterment of humanity have been accomplished in or on behalf of the State of Illinois, or, whose achievements have brought honor to the state because of their identity with it, whether by birth or residence, or by their dedication to those principles of democracy and humanity as exemplified by the great Illinoisan whose name we bear,” according to the Lincoln Academy of Illinois webpage.

Schneider is a local student from Bethalto with ties to the community and her family. One of five siblings, Schneider stated that she has a strong family support system that has helped her become a strong, community-oriented student. This, along with Schneider’s perfect grades and work ethic, is the reason that Denise DeGarmo, associate professor and chair of political science, nominated Schneider for the award.

“I’ve known Jenna for almost four years. She is a really unique student because she is so motivated and determined to succeed at whatever she does. She works full time. She’s a double major on top of everything else. She’s very involved in her church and mission work,” said DeGarmo. “When you see a young woman with such a huge work load and then you see how well she does it–because she’s a perfect 4.0 student–you kind of stand up and take notice because you don’t see a whole lot of folks like that.”

Schneider stated that she has always been interested in political science, but that after a freshman course in economics, she added the second major.

“Political Science was my first choice. I’ve always loved the study of governments in general, law, I’ve always loved that. But I took an economics class my freshman year and I really loved it as well,” said Schneider. “I decided that I was going to steer towards going to law school and I thought that an economics background would be beneficial.”

Schneider hopes to go to law school and plans to, altruistically, pursue her interest in international law, even though she thinks some people would call her wishy-washy.

“Long term, I want to do international law. I want to live abroad and work on behalf of other people. It is really altruistic motives and I understand that some people think that is wishy-washy and she’s not sincere. But that’s truthful,” said Schneider. “I spent a time in Vietnam after my freshman year in college and I loved it. I saw poverty. I saw things I never thought I would see in the world. I spent a month there. I didn’t even travel the entire country and know that there are places in this world where people cannot stand up for themselves. They don’t have rights. They don’t have the ability to work. They don’t have the ability to vote. And that’s what I want to do. I want to work on behalf of other people.”

DeGarmo believes that Schneider will do well after she graduates from SIUE.

“I think her ability to synthesize information very quickly and proficiently–she can take very complex ideas and narrow them down to what really matters. She also really does a good job at picking out the important stuff. She can tell the difference between what is frivolous and what is really important and I think that will go a long way in helping her when she is doing case law. If she doesn’t understand something, she’s not embarrassed to come and talk to you about it. She uses faculty as a resource, but she also bridges this gap between students and instructors. Somehow or other, she is just able to take her knowledge and help other students,” said DeGarmo. “She has every quality that one could hope to have to really succeed at whatever she decides to do. She’s just impressive, and she’s kind, and she’s down-to-earth. And it’s just a really nice combination.”

Schneider encourages her fellow students to step up when it comes to getting involved in campus activities. She believes that even though the ultimate goal of college is to prepare a better future that students need to keep in mind that they can change the present by getting involved.

“For CAS students, I would say get involved with CAS organizations. Make a difference here on campus. I’m big on doing something–even if you live off-campus, or if you travel to campus, or live here in the dorms–do something here that is momentous, that makes some type of difference here on campus, that can give back to this community,” said Schneider. “I think that really does shape who you are. You are here for a reason, I think. I think you should use these years as a stepping stone for where you want to go, but don’t just always keep you mind so far in the future that you forget there is work to be done here as well.”

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