Senior Olivia Jordan named among top students in state
Campus leader, student-athlete and future teacher Olivia Jordan '21 will represent Illinois College as a 2020 Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.
A native of Moweaqua, Illinois, Jordan is earning her degree in secondary education and English literature. She is among 55 top students from across the state who will be honored during the 46th annual Lincoln Academy Student Laureate ceremony, a virtual event that premiered online on Nov. 10.
Student Laureates are honored for their “leadership and service in the pursuit of the betterment of humanity and for overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.” Each fall, an outstanding senior is selected from each of the four-year, degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois.
“People saw what I did over four years and viewed it as exceptional, which was so humbling,” Jordan said of the honor. “I feel like I’ve just been doing my job as a college kid. I appreciated that I was chosen for this role.”
Jordan graduated as valedictorian of Central A&M, a small school in central Illinois, in 2017. She considered many colleges, but says that the early interactions she had with the Illinois College professors and students she met during her visits stood out.
“I loved getting to meet so many of the people I would work with during my four years of college,” she recalls. “I started to notice and hear others talk about this culture of friendliness and openness at IC. Each class since I have been here has carried on that welcoming culture.”
Jordan was involved in many activities growing up, but assumed that she would have to cut back on doing the things she loved in college. Instead, she found that faculty and staff at IC have supported her well-rounded development.
Now a senior, Jordan has participated in cheerleading, softball, music, religious life and student involvement. She often has served as a leader on campus; this year, she is the student director of the Center for Student Involvement and president of IC’s chapter of Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC).
Jordan has also become a vocal advocate for social justice issues, including supporting the Black Lives Matter movement on campus. Speaking out publicly about these issues is something she had not done before coming to Illinois College. She said getting to meet new people with diverse perspectives has changed her outlook. It is something she says rarely happened growing up in a small town.
“Even though IC is small, you meet so many different people with many different viewpoints and life experiences,” she said. “During my time at IC, I saw some of the issues that people I know dealt with. I am trusted to have this voice on campus as a student leader. And if I’m not using my voice to help other people, then I feel like I’m wasting it.”
Jordan will begin student teaching in the spring and plans to graduate in May. She is considering pursuing an advanced degree in education in the future, but right now she is just excited to start teaching.
Her journey to become a teacher has been filled with inspirational educators including an influential high school English teacher; Assistant Dean of Student Success and Director of Student Involvement Karen Homolka, and Associate Professor of Music Abby Musgrove. Jordan says her time at IC has fueled her passion for teaching and helped her see her future role in a new way.
“I always thought that teaching would be fun, but over the past four years, I came to really understand the power of education,” she said.
“Education became this tool of social justice in my mind. I can go somewhere and become this teacher that a student might not have had in their life otherwise, to show them their potential. Kids — especially teenagers — need someone to believe in them. That makes such a huge difference in their lives. That’s ultimately my goal.”
The Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Zoom production will include a congratulatory statement by Gov. J. B. Pritzker, the president of the Lincoln Academy. Vice Chancellor, The Honorable Ron Spears, will give the invocation and Chancellor Frank Clark will make welcoming remarks. The ceremony can be viewed on Nov. 10 at www.thelincolnacademyofillinois.org.