William Z. Riley is Named Illinois Student Laureate

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William Z. Riley is Named Illinois Student Laureate

Published: November 20, 2017.

Chicago resident William Z. Riley, an Aviation Administration and Public Policy double major who is minoring in Economics, was honored November 11 in Springfield by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Riley was selected as the student laureate for Lewis University.

Governor Bruce Rauner, President of the Lincoln Academy, and First Lady Diana Rauner awarded each student laureate with a certificate of merit, a medal of Lincoln and a $1,000 educational grant.

Riley also will be honored as a student laureate when he receives his bachelor’s degree at the December 2018 Lewis University Commencement Ceremony. The resident of Chicago's South Shore neighborhood plans to pursue a career with the Federal Aviation Administration or the Department of Transportation, with hopes to directly influence national or international transportation policies.

“I grew up in a neighborhood where most people don’t get college degrees,” Riley said. “My education has changed my life and it is my goal to be a mentor to children in my neighborhood and help them follow their dreams.”

Riley is vice president of the Lewis University Student Senate and serves on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Student Advisory Council as a Lewis University representative. He also serves on the Civic Engagement Committee, the Community Partnership Committee, the University Policy and Budget Review Advisory Council, the Planning Council, the Mission and Heritage Council and the Student Services Board of Trustees Committee.

He is vice president of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and was a Congressional Black Caucus intern for Congressman Bobby L. Rush. He also is the president of Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society.

One of the founding members of the Lasallian Justice Coalition, a group dedicated to promoting Lasallian values by talking about and providing action plans to combat social justice issues, Riley was also nominated by multiple faculty and staff members in the summer of 2015 to attend a Global Leadership and Understanding Conference in Rome, Italy. He also served as a Student Leader on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, an eight-day journey to visit over 30 different sacred sites pertaining to slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and current race-related issues in five cities — Memphis, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; Montgomery, Ala.; Selma, Ala.; and Ferguson, Mo.

Lewis University is an innovative and entrepreneurial Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,500 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected and socially responsible graduates. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.

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