Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Melissa Van honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois

University of Illinois Springfield senior Melissa Van was honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois on Nov. 16 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Van, a Lincoln, Illinois native and graduate of Lincoln Community High School, is majoring in business administration at UIS with a concentration in marketing and minoring in management. She plans to graduate from UIS in December.

She is a first-generation Vietnamese-American student whose parents immigrated to the United States seeking freedom. Growing up, she learned a lot about the customs and cultures of Vietnam, while learning to speak two different languages.

“I believe those experiences in my early years and throughout my young adulthood have helped me become more open-minded to everything and everyone around me,” she said. “My parents work hard to support my two sisters and me. When I can, I try to reduce the stress my parents may feel by working hard to achieve my potential.”

Van says her primary goal has always been to earn a college degree, something her parents weren’t able to do, and further her education.

“Even as a small child, I would finish all of my homework correctly so my parents would not have to help me after a long day at work,” she said. “I had to become independent at a very young age.”

In high school, Van worked in a field tending to blueberries the summer, worked as an assistant nail technician at her family’s business and worked at several restaurants in order to support her goal of obtaining a college degree.

“My jobs allowed me to experience first-hand the challenges that come with communicating with customers, whether face-to-face or through a fast food speaker,” she said.

At UIS, Van has worked as an orientation leader, served as a peer mentor for the Capital Scholars Honors Program and treasurer for the Legacy Dance team. She has also worked as a Research Student Interviewer for the UIS Survey Research Office collecting social science data.

“During my time at UIS, I have joined many groups and clubs to find out what all I enjoy,” she said.

Van has also served as the marketing coordinator for the Student Activities Committee and the Asian Student Organization and the vice president of the Community Garden Club. She has also been a member of the Vietnamese Student Association, Students Allied for a Greener Earth, the Social Media Advisory Committee, Sigma Alpha Phi (the National Society of Leadership and Success), Beta Gamma Sigma (The International Business Honor Society) and the Student Organization Funding Association.

She recently completed an internship with Aflac and had her artwork published in Dave Kinzer’s book “The 60s Music Compendium.”

“UIS offers a comfortable environment where I can focus on my studies,” she said. “The campus is large enough to meet new people every day, but not so small that I would know everyone.”

Following graduation from UIS, she plans move to Arizona and further her education while applying for jobs.

Each year an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

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