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Screenshot from the Red Cross Heroes Virtual Awards Ceremony
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WIU Resident Assistants Receive Red Cross Community Heroes Award

April 29, 2021

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MACOMB, IL – Two Western Illinois University Thompson Hall resident assistants (RAs) received the American Red Cross of Illinois Community Hero Award at the American Red Cross of Illinois' virtual "Honoring Heroes in an Extraordinary Time" virtual ceremony April 29 for their lifesaving efforts during an incident on campus in Fall 2020.

Joshua Smith, a sophomore law enforcement and justice administration major from Crete (IL)[formerly of Chicago], and Marcus Sweeten, a senior history major from Roodhouse (IL), were among 24 community heroes honored during the 2021 event. Smith and Sweeten were recognized in the Quad Cities and West Central Illinois Division "Lifesaving Efforts" category. The pair were nominated by WIU Office of Public Safety Interim Director Derek Watts for their quick action in response to an incident Sept. 15, 2020 when a student was shot by his roommate.

"In this difficult year, we are extremely honored to recognize amazing local individuals who have put the needs of others before their own. Each one of these heroes embodies compassion, selflessness and a commitment to build a better community," said Trish Burnett, executive director of the American Red Cross serving the Quad Cities and West Central Illinois.

According to Watts, Smith and Sweeten administered life-saving first aid to the victim until first responders arrived on the scene.

"Joshua's and Marcus' unselfish and immediate actions played a critical role in protecting their resident from more harm. The initial care they provided kept the student stable until emergency medical professional took over. They went above and beyond their roles as resident assistants," Watts said. "Joshua and Marcus, and the entire hall staff in Thompson Hall demonstrated tremendous calm and professionalism to ensure their residents' safety. We are fortunate to work with these students and staff day in and day out."

Smith started as a resident assistant at WIU in August 2020, while Sweeten has been a resident assistant since August 2019.

The pair also received a commendation from OPS, and were recognized, with other Thompson Hall housing staff, by University leadership, in September 2020.

Another WIU connection – Quincy Superintendent of Schools Roy Webb – received the Education Hero Award for his work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to keep students and faculty in Quincy Public Schools safe. He was recently honored as Administrator of the Year and received the KHQA Hometown Hero Award for his leadership and support. Webb received his graduate educational specialist degree, his master's in education and his bachelor's in education from WIU.

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations