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The winners of the inaugural COFAC Undergraduate Student Leadership Awards are pictured with Interim WIU Provost William "Billy" Clow, left, and WIU President Guiyou Huang and Interim COFAC Dean William "Buzz" Hoon, right.
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WIU's COFAC Hosts Inaugural Student Awards

May 2, 2022

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A recording of the inaugural COFAC Undergraduate Student Leadership Awards

MACOMB, IL – This week, the College of Fine Arts and Communication at Western Illinois University hosted its first Undergraduate Student Leadership Awards.

Students representing the college's programs were selected by their department for recognition. The award honors students who have shown excellent leadership or mentorship throughout the year.

"Our students are involved in a variety of work that helps prepare them for their next stage of life," said Interim COFAC Dean William "Buzz" Hoon. "In order to accomplish these achievements, COFAC students receive outstanding instruction from our talented faculty. They also put in an incredible amount of time and effort to reach their goals, and sometimes, we have students that go beyond what is expected and help their fellow classmates. The inaugural awards recognized students who are providing invaluable leadership in the department and mentorship and support to other students. They have true Leatherneck spirit."

This year's winners of student recognition include:

School of Music – Lauren Antoniolli, a senior music education and horn performance double major, of Aurora, IL. For the past four years, she has played in the WIU Wind Ensemble and Orchestra. Antoniolli served as president of the WIU chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon for two years (2020-2021), vice president of the National Association for Music Education for two years (2018-2019) and is currently serving as the Special Projects Officer for Western Emergency Medical Services (WEMS).
In the summer, Lauren participated in Drum Corps International and the Sewanee Summer Music Festival. This summer, she is excited to bike 450 miles across the state of Iowa, spend a week building a house with Habitat for Humanity, and prepare for student teaching with the Niles West High School band program this fall.

Department of Communication – Savannah Ballard, a junior communication major, of Cameron, IL. At WIU, Ballard was a member of Phi Theta Kappa; TRIO SSS; was on the dean's list since 2019; served as class secretary; was a member of the National Honor Society and the Warren County CEO program, where she learned how to run a successful company from local business owners in Warren County.

Department of Theatre and Dance – Danny Hollander, a senior musical theatre major, of Volo, IL. Originally coming from the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Hollander is an up and coming young actor who is headed out of the suburbs and into the heart of the city. Hollander got his bite from the theater bug at a very young age, as a part of his local community theater at age 5, along with his entire family. Now that he is reaching the end of his traditional education experience, Hollander is very excited for the opportunities he will encounter as he enters the professional theater world full time.

Hollander's theatrical experiences at WIU include First Date, Pippin and Songs For a New World, and he recently participated in the premiere production of Aimee Root's A Pirate's Life For She this spring. In May, he will make his Ohio stage debut in a six-month running production of Josiah For President at the Ohio Star Theater.

Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology – Sydney Scott, a senior speech pathology and audiology major, of Avon, IL. Scott has been a member of the Centennial Honors College for three years, the WIU Student Speech-Language Hearing Association for two years, and elected the Social Media Chair of WIUSSLHA for the 2021-22 school year.

She is also a member of the WIU chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success, Sigma Alpha Pi. While attending classes full-time at WIU, she has worked on campus as a student assistant in the Vice President for Student Success and the Office of Sponsored Projects. She received the award for Student Assistant of the Month in November 2021. She enjoys getting involved at WIU and being a part of the Speech Pathology and Audiology program. She especially enjoys the opportunities to work with clients in the WIU Speech and Hearing Clinic. She will graduate in May and will continue her academic career in Fall 2022 at WIU in the Speech Pathology graduate program.

Department of Art and Design – Tatiana Tarena Ward-Lawrence, a senior graphic design major, of Chicago. Ward-Lawrence is the president and founder of the Black Artist Guild, the first black visual artist organization at WIU. She is also a student in the Centennial Honors College. Ward-Lawrence's art and design work often centers around black excellence and she speaks out about the challenges faced by African Americans.

Ward-Lawrence started a design business in high school called, "Design by Tatiii," creating designs for herself and others. She also started a photography business her sophomore year, "Shots by Tatiii," which focuses on portraits and surrealism. Tatiana worked with Chicago Lights, a nonprofit organization that helps the homeless and less fortunate. Tatiana finds joy in being able to uplift others in their time of need, and she is a positive presence and a good influence on the people around her.

Department of Broadcasting and Journalism – Kennedy Williams, a junior broadcasting and journalism major, of Glendale Heights. She is the Student Government Association Senator for COFAC, and a news reporter and anchor for NEWS3. She recently received two finalist nominations for Best News Feature Story and Best News Report at the 2022 Inter Collegiate Broadcasting System Awards, and in July, she received an honorable mention for her short/non-fiction story at the Mid-America Emmy Awards. She is a Dean's List student, and this summer she will be a corporate communications intern for Walgreens.

For more information about the College of Fine Arts and Communication at WIU, visit

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