University News

Walker Named WIU's 2018 Lincoln Laureate

October 17, 2018

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MACOMB, IL — Western Illinois University senior forensic chemistry and foreign languages and cultures double major Nicole Walker, of Lake Zurich, IL, has been named the University's recipient of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois' Student Laureate Award for 2018.

The award, presented annually to an outstanding senior of each of Illinois' four-year degree-granting institutions, honors a student's overall academic excellence and extracurricular activities. The award will be presented to Walker Saturday, Nov. 17 in Springfield, IL.

Walker is a student in WIU's Centennial Honors College. This award is the most recent in an extensive list of honors she has gathered while she has been a student at Western.

"A Student Lincoln Laureate is an outstanding graduating senior chosen to represent their university for their academic, extracurricular and volunteer achievements," said Walker. "I am honored to have been chosen to represent WIU this year, and I am very thankful to Dr. Brian Bellott and Dr. Rick Hardy for all their help over the years in pushing me to be the best student I can be."

One of Walker's nomination letters for the laureate award came from Centennial Honors College Dean Rick Hardy, who said Walker has been actively engaged in research since she first arrived at Western.

"Nicole is absolutely brilliant," said Hardy. ""She grasps complex mathematical and scientific concepts like a duck takes to water. But Nicole is more than just a bookworm; she is a very thoughtful, reliable and well-rounded person who is engaged in civic activities and enjoys helping others learn."

In April, Walker was named one of only 11 Illinois honorable mention award winners in the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. She was one of six WIU Department of Chemistry students to present their research at the national American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting in Louisiana in April.

During her sophomore year, Walker was one of just a few college sophomores nationwide selected for the Summer 2017 Research Experience for Undergraduate Students (REU), where she conducted research in chemistry at the University of Kansas.

She is also president of the ACS Chemistry Club and the WIU Chapter of Golden Key International Honour Society. Walker is also involved in the Women in Science Club, Research Inspiring Student Excellence (RISE), the Blue Key National Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma, is a chemistry ambassador for WIU and the recipient of a Centennial Honors Scholarship and works as a desk assistant at Lincoln, Washington and Grote halls. She was named the Organic Chemistry Student of the Year and won outstanding student awards during her freshman, sophomore and senior years.

For more information about the Lincoln Laureate program, visit

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