Lewis University student Liana Vantrease of Alsip, Ill., received the Father Aquinas Colgan Award at the university’s Undergraduate Commencement Ceremonies May 20 on the Romeoville Main Campus. The special recognition is awarded to a graduating senior at each of the university’s Undergraduate Commencement Ceremonies, held in May and December.
Vantrease graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Secondary Education. She earned a 3.8/4.0 cumulative Grade Point Average. Vantrease credits becoming involved in ministry through Koinonia, Catalyst and Best Buddies, to help her develop her character and encourage personal growth outside of her comfort zone. “I am finally able to realize that I can make a difference, no matter how big or small, despite the fact that I am only one person, and my experience at Lewis has helped me to realize this,” commented Vantrease.
This summer, Liana is taking her service global by travelling to Bolivia as part of the Lewis University Mission trip. She also committed to becoming a Lasallian Volunteer. In the fall, she will volunteer to transform the lives of impoverished children and families being served by Lasallian ministries across the nation.
Students are nominated for the Father Aquinas Colgan Award by university faculty and staff. To be eligible for nomination, a student must be an undergraduate who has qualified for graduation, who is a four-year student of Lewis University with a minimum GPA of 3.0, and who has demonstrated exemplary personal, intellectual and social development in the spirit of Lewis University’s Mission.
A Lewis University tradition, the Father Aquinas Colgan Award has been presented to an outstanding undergraduate student at the university’s Commencement exercises since 1955. The award recognizes students who have demonstrated personal and intellectual growth, a strong commitment to their faith, and a firm dedication to the Lasallian values of justice and association.
The award honors the memory of Father Aquinas Colgan, O. Carm., who was chaplain early in the university’s history. A U.S. Army chaplain during World War II, Father Aquinas died on May 6, 1945, while attempting to rescue a wounded corpsman. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valor, becoming one of only seven chaplains to receive this honor in World War II. He had previously received the Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster for acts of heroism and for two earlier wounds. Father Aquinas is remembered for his character, bravery, and persistence in pursuing goals, and also for his deep personal faith.
Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The ninth largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.
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