MACOMB, Ill. - Leatherneck women's soccer senior Laura Lins (Racine, Wisc./William Horlick) added the most prestigious award of her standout career when she was named Western Illinois University's Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Award winner. Lins was recently honored in a ceremony in the Hall of Representatives at the Old State Capitol.
As described by the Academy, each fall 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.
"These students have exhibited a personal commitment to excel as seen by their remarkable academic accomplishments," said Thomas S. Johnson, Chancellor of the Lincoln Academy, who added, "They serve as role models to other Illinois students. With hard-working and dedicated young leaders such as these, Illinois and the rest of the nation can look forward to a bright future."
Lins is the third Leatherneck student-athlete in the last five years to represent Western Illinois University, and fourth overall since the program's inception. She joins Matt Barr (football) in 2009, Julia Remes (women's soccer) in 2007 and Lee Ann Majerle (basketball/track and field) in 1990.
"This is one of the most special awards I've received because it was something only one student from Western Illinois University was awarded. To be recognized in that regard was neat. Also to see and meet the different representatives from each university at the awards ceremony was amazing. It was a great ceremony and a great honor," said Lins.
A four-year letterwinner for the Leatherneck women's soccer program and head coach Tony Guinn, Lins played in 61 career matches mainly as a defender. She recorded three goals and three assists in her career, and last year helped the team advance to the Summit League Tournament championship. Lins helped Western advance to the conference tournament in consecutive years (2009-10).
In the classroom she carries a 3.99 GPA with a double-major in Chemistry and Athletic Training. A three-time selection to the Summit League Fall Academic All-League team (and will be for a fourth year), Lins was recently named to the Capital One Academic All-District Second Team as voted on by members of CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America).
In addition, Lins was selected to the 2010-11 Summit League Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence. Recently, she was also named the 2011 recipient of the Cathy Early Scholarship, which recognizes one outstanding female student-athlete each year. Lins also serves as the Vice President of the Western Illinois Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
The team captain is also extremely involved in local and national community service programs such as the Shaymus Relays and Rocky's Reach. During Winter Break 2009, Lins spent a week in Belize volunteering at two orphanages.
Lins' athletic and academic accomplishments made her an easy selection to represent Leatherneck student-athletes by speaking at the Purple and Gold Auction this fall.
"Laura is an extraordinary young woman, who through her hard work within and beyond the classroom has demonstrated academic excellence, leadership and strong character," said Western Illinois Director of Athletics Dr. Tim Van Alstine. "She is truly a role model to all of our student-athletes. It is easy to see why other student-athletes look up to her and why she deserved this award. She has an extremely bright future ahead of her in whatever career path she chooses."
Her experiences at Western exemplify the philosophy of the Lincoln Academy.
"To be able go through the Old Capitol building at the ceremony and the roots of where Lincoln developed himself from a humble beginning, and he accomplished so much. They try to inspire us, saying you're from Illinois and you have so many opportunities that are given through your education that you can progress and do great things," said Lins.
As she continues her application process for medical school next year with career aspirations to become an orthopedic surgeon, Lins fondly remembers her initial visit to Western.
"I still remember my first visit here thinking, I really like this campus, the team is awesome it's going to be great. Of course the education is the most important thing and I knew that it would be difficult because I came in as a double major," said Lins. "I never thought all the accolades would come and I have many wonderful memories. Of course soccer is the biggest one because it's the most time I've invested into things.
"This year even though it was hard in wins and losses, especially at the end of the season, it was still memorable and the team unity we had was unlike another year. There wasn't any bickering, any drama, everyone got along and was on the same page as far as that went, which was really cool to be a part of. To be a captain too is an honor, to be able to lead the freshmen, have them come to me if they need any advice, it was a great year."