University News

Leanne McNett Named Western's Lincoln Laureate

October 23, 2002

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Photo of McNett with Governor and Mrs. Ryan.

McNett with Governor and Mrs. Ryan ( (Download print-quality photo)

MACOMB, IL - - Leanne McNett, a Western Illinois University senior from Stockton, has been selected as the University's recipient of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate Award.

Each of Western's four academic colleges nominated a student for the prestigious Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate Award, which is presented annually to an outstanding senior from each of Illinois' four-year degree-granting institutions. Student Laureates are honored for overall academic excellence and extracurricular activities.

As Western's Lincoln Laureate selection, McNett will attend a Saturday, Nov. 2 awards ceremony in the Illinois House of Representatives Chamber and a luncheon hosted by Gov. and Mrs. George Ryan in the Executive Mansion.

McNett, from Western Illinois' College of Arts and Sciences, is a psychology major with a sociology minor. Over the summer she was among an elite group of 10 collegians nationwide to serve as a student fellow in the Buffalo State University Psychology Department Summer Institute. The eight-week institute is part of Buffalo State's NIMH funded Mental Health Issues in Applied Experimental Life-Span Development Psychology (R25) Education Project.

At the institute McNett completed a course in advanced experimental methods in developmental psychology and a research proposal of the effects positive affect and peer social support may have on drinking motives and alcohol-related problems in college students. She currently is conducting this research at Western in collaboration with psychology faculty Robert Intrieri, her mentor for the research internship, and Michael MacLean.

"Leanne has been involved in research since her sophomore year," Intrieri said. "She assisted me and my departmental colleagues Drs. (Paige) Goodwin and (Dennis) Papini with a research project and was a coauthor of our poster presentation at the American Psychological Association national convention in August. To be involved as a coauther on any submission to a national convention is exceptional by any standard. Besides all of her wonderful accomplishments, Leanne is truly a wonderful person."

After her May 2003 graduation from Western, McNett plans to earn dual degrees in social work at the doctoral level and in law to help her achieve her goal of becoming an attorney specializing in public policy or nonprofit law.

"It is through this career that I can acquire the intellectual foundation and skills to best represent my interests in social service," McNett said. "I want to be able to influence laws so that they fairly and effectively work for the people they are written to protect.

"My academic and extracurricular career at Western Illinois University has been tremendously beneficial in allowing me to develop and foster solid intellectual skills, leadership, and innovation so that I may embrace my goals," McNett added. "I believe that having thoroughly explored the field of psychology and taking advantage of all the opportunities available at WIU, I am in a strong position to make these goals a reality. And that will make my life even more meaningful."

McNett attributes her lifelong calling to service and education to her late mother, who passed away when Leanne was 15 years old.

"My mom was a caring person, and I saw her as a great example of what compassion can do for other people," she said. "She was an EMT; that was really important to her. And she worked at the Sojourn House in Freeport, a facility for the treatment of substance abuse."

Following her mother's example, Leanne began work at Sojourn House in May 2001, supervising treatment modules as well as leisure and recreational activities, performing clerical work and scheduling appointments. She has continued to work at Sojourn during school breaks.

McNett's school and community involvement began at an early age. The summer before her junior year at Stockton High School, she coached softball for girls entering grades 2-6. She graduated third in her class, earing a 4.01 grade point average on a 4.0 scale through advanced classes; was a four-year Student Council member; earned numerous conference awards as a four-year competitor in basketball and volleyball and two years in track; and was named to the Homecoming and Prom courts.

In Summer 2001 she returned to Stockton to co-found and teach at the We Play Girls Basketball Camp for girls entering grades 1-5, "because there were no basketball programs for girls below fourth grade."

At WIU McNett was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society for being in the top five percent of the junior class. She is president of Psi Chi, the psychology honors society, and has served that organization as secretary and chair of the fundraising committee. This past spring she competed on the first women's water polo club team at Western and regularly visited with residents at the Elms Nursing Home in Macomb.

Leanne is the daughter of Ron McNett, a WIU alumnus, of Stockton.

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