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Pictured, from left, are Abby Ehrenberger, Kelly Brown, Danielle Olszewski, Keri DeVolder and Trevor Cook. Not pictured is David Olejnik.
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WIU COFAC Students Honored for Leadership

May 25, 2023

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MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University College of Fine Arts and Communication hosted its second annual Student Leadership Awards program April 27.

Students representing programs within the college were chosen by their department for recognition. The award honors students who have shown excellent leadership/mentorship over the past year.

This year's leadership award winners are:

Department of Theatre and Dance - Kelly Brown, a May Musical Theatre (BFA) and Broadcasting and Journalism (BA) graduate from Rolla, MO. He performed in numerous theatre productions, including "Radium Girls," for which he was nominated for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Irene Ryan Acting Award. He was also a member of the University Dance Company.

Kelly was a Musical Theatre Intensive Finalist, and a 2023 McMurdie Scholarship Winner. He is the immediate past captain and member of the Surgin' Generals Improv Comedie Troupe. After graduation, he will now be performing in two shows at the Holiday World and Splashin' Safari amusement park. He has been offered and accepted representation with Steward Talent in Chicago, IL.

Department of Communication – Trevor Cook, a May Communication (BA) graduate, from Moline, IL. While at Western, Cook was the social media coordinator for Campus Recreation, was a member of the executive committee for the Communication Student Society and promoted a variety of educational and professional development and networking opportunities for Communication majors.

Cook was recognized for encouraging his fellow students in their academic work. He was also a customer sales lead/manager for Complete Nutrition, a shift supervisor for Hibbett Sports in Macomb and a facilities monitor and supervisor for Campus Recreation.

Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology – Keri DeVolder, a May Speech Pathology and Audiology (BS) graduate from Macomb. Devolder was recognized for being willing to "help others and move people forward." She has helped at Speech Pathology and Audiology Days and Discover Western events to answer questions about Macomb, WIU and the department. She also worked at the Speech Pathology and Audiology Clinic, including with a little boy who expressed his first word while working with DeVolder.

She has volunteered to load food trucks for the Salvation Army, worked with the Stuff the Bus campaign on campus, coached gymnastics at the YMCA and helped with Macomb High School Band events. She also plays a large role in the department's student organization.

Department of Art and Design – Abby Ehrenberger, a senior Art Education major, from Oakwood Hills, IL. She is a leader in the classrooms of the WIU Department of Art and Design, as well as with Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Macomb and in the Kappa Pi national arts fraternity, serving as its president. Ehrenberger is recognized as someone with a "positive attitude, confidence, a sense of humor, who listens and knows how to delegate."

Ehrenberger was specifically recognized for her help with a trip for a travel and study abroad course in New York City, NY, where she was a leader and asked "the most insightful and scholarly questions." She is also known as someone who encourages students in lower level classes.

Department of Broadcasting and Journalism – David Olejnik, a May Broadcasting and Journalism graduate, from Wildwood, MO. He was chosen for the award because he has a "mindset of a servant leader," and "is someone who is always looking to be supportive of his classmates because he believes in putting others before himself."

The faculty member who nominated Olejnik said he "exemplifies the concept of a scholar athlete," and that his "work is its own best recommendation."

School of Music – Danielle Olszewski, a May Music Education graduate, from Rockford, IL. She is an outstanding flutist who has excelled academically and musically, while participating within many activities and service opportunities on campus and in the community. She has performed with WIU's Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Marching Band, Concert Band, Pep Band, Concert Choir and Brass Chamber Ensemble, assuming leadership roles in many.

Olszewski was also the drum major of the Marching Leathernecks and was involved in many leadership positions with student organizations, including Sigma Alpha Iota and the Western Illinois Music Educators Association. She also mentored new students and was the recipient of the Paige Skinner Emerging Student Leader Award in 2020.

The names of each student selected for these awards will appear on a plaque outside of the dean's office in Browne Hall.

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

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