Home » News » TFAS Alumna Named Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois

TFAS Alumna Named Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois

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TFAS alumna Hadley Smithhisler ’19 can add student laureate to her long list of accolades. A senior at Monmouth College, Smithhisler was selected as her university’s sole recipient of the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award, making her a 2019 Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy.

Smithhisler (second from right) celebrates her TFAS graduation day with fellow scholarship recipients.

The award will be presented during the annual Student Laureate Convocation on Nov. 16 at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. As an honoree, Smithhisler will receive a certificate of merit from the governor, a Lincoln medallion and $1,000 prize.

This summer, Smithhisler earned a scholarship to attend our TFAS D.C. Summer Programs where she participated in our Public Policy + Economics program and interned with National Down Syndrome Society’s National Advocacy & Public Policy Center.

My economics course at George Mason (Economic Problems and Public Policy) pushed me to consider new, different and out-of-the-box solutions to problems that are facing our country. Now that I have returned to Monmouth College for my senior year, I find myself returning to the core principles of economic thinking in my political science and history classes.” – Hadley Smithhisler ’19

We caught up with Smithhisler to offer our congratulations and learn how TFAS and her other educational pursuits are preparing her for honorable leadership.

What are you looking forward to most about the award ceremony in Springfield? 

HS: As a history major, I am excited to visit the Old State Capitol and to spend some time reflecting on Lincoln’s leadership legacy. I spent the summer of 2018 at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate as a leadership fellow, so I enjoy studying our presidents, the decisions they made and what we can learn from our presidents as leaders. I’ll also enjoy meeting the student laureates from other schools in Illinois.

Smithhisler (far right) and classmates share ideas and answer question prompts during this summer’s Theater of Public Policy event.

Why is civic engagement important for young people? 

HS: Civic engagement has been important to me in my college experience because it has helped me discern my values, think critically and curiously about local and national politics, and establish roots in my community. I think if young people are civically engaged earlier in life they become well-informed adults and active participants in our democracy. Civic engagement helps people feel like active participants in the world and shows them that they can effect real change.

What are your future career goals?

HS: I am applying to law schools for next fall. Currently, I am hoping to concentrate in international or human rights law, but I am keeping my career options open!

How will your TFAS experience impact your professional future? 

HS: I have always been interested in policy and advocacy work, so I was so glad that TFAS connected me with the National Down Syndrome Society’s National Advocacy & Public Policy Center. I learned a lot about nonprofit management, honest inclusivity in the workplace and the powerful role that legal professionals can play in advocacy work. I am certain the skills I learned at my internship site will serve me well in law school next year and remind me of my responsibility to use my education to help others and support causes that matter.

What lessons did you learn as a TFAS student that made a lasting impact? 

HS: I am a history and French double major, so I appreciated the opportunity to explore economics this summer. My economics course at George Mason (Economic Problems and Public Policy) pushed me to consider new, different and out-of-the-box solutions to problems that are facing our country. Now that I have returned to Monmouth College for my senior year, I find myself returning to the core principles of economic thinking in my political science and history classes.

What leadership skills did you acquire or develop as a TFAS student? 

HS: My economics course this summer and the academic lectures I attended at George Mason allowed me to be curious about political problems and perspectives that I had never considered before. I got a lot of practice this summer approaching challenges with an open mind.

What advice do you have for future TFAS D.C. Summer Programs students?

HS: Take advantage of living in D.C.! You will be busy as an intern and a student, but make sure you visit every free museum, attend every TFAS lecture and network!

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