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Dr. Tom Erekson, dean of WIU's College of Business and Technology, and Edward A. Bridge II, Western's Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate, at the Student Laureate Convocation - Old State Capitol, Springfield. Photo courtesy of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois.
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Edward Bridge, WIU's Lincoln Academy Student Laureate

November 19, 2010

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MACOMB, IL – Edward Arnold Bridge II (Quincy, IL; originally from Pettus, TX) is Western Illinois University's recipient of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate Award for 2010. The prestigious award, which is presented annually to an outstanding senior from each of Illinois' four-year degree-granting institutions, honors a student's overall academic excellence and extracurricular activities.

He was among 50 seniors across the state honored Nov. 6 during the Student Laureate Convocation at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site in Springfield. Student Laureates received a medallion, an honorarium check and a certificate of achievement.

Bridge has maintained academic perfection at Western Illinois in his information systems major, with an option in information technology systems and a minor in computer science. He is the Centennial Honors College Scholar, the Academic Honors Convocation Student Speaker, the Information Systems Departmental Scholar and an Honors Scholar.

He has been a technical assistant student worker, assisting with call-in questions to the computing help desk, as well as working with hardware, software and multiple networks across campus. He installed, configured, standardized and documented all of the electronic equipment in the electronic classrooms across campus. For his Honors College undergraduate research, "Utilizing Technology for Organizational Strategic Advantage," Bridge created an inventory database of all electronic equipment maintained by the University, along with a web site with instructions, photographs and other resources. This information system, which is free and easy to maintain, provides a faster and more thorough training for employees, as well as up-to-date electronic classroom information for faculty and technicians to access online. He won the 2010 Thomas E. Helm Undergraduate Research Day poster presentation with this project.

In 2009-2010, Bridge served as president of the following organizations and academic honor societies: the College of Business and Technology Student Organization Council, the Management Information Systems Association, Mortar Board, Golden Key and Blue Key. He has been an active volunteer in local and national charitable and service drives such as the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Polar Plunge for Illinois Special Olympics; Cans Across America food drive; American Red Cross blood drive; Mortar Board's national project, "Reading is Leading"; and Western's All Volunteer Effort (WAVE).

In addition to academics and student work, Bridge founded (2007) and runs his own business, Input/Output Technologies, which he operates part-time during school and full-time on breaks and summers.

A U.S. Air Force veteran (2003-2007), Bridge received the Squadron, Group and Wing Airman of the Year awards at Lackland Air Force Base (TX) for 2004. He served the base as full-time operations systems administrator. He was a member of the Honor Guard, the Drill Team and percussion captain of USAF Blue Knight Drum and Bugle Corps. He also ran cross country.

Bridge said there were several factors that drew him to Western Illinois when he was researching schools toward the end of his tour of duty.

"I found that WIU was a good size school in a good location, had small class sizes, was military friendly, was affordable and had the program that I wanted, along with many other factors," Bridge said. "I know that it was the right decision, and I am thankful for my time here."

Bridge had attended Texas A&M University (College Station, TX), where he was active in academic, professional and social groups, including the Texas A&M University (TAMU) Computing Society; Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers; Hispanic President's Council; and Student Engineers' Council, for which he was the first-ever freshman engineering student selected for membership. He also was captain of the cross country team, and he competed in track and field and cycling.

His immediate plans include earning his Master of Business Administration and doctorate degrees.

"Ultimately, I would like to teach at the university level and manage my own business," said Bridge. "I have operated a sole proprietorship the last several years to help cover my expenses, but I would like to open a store and be my own boss so that I can eventually sponsor some charitable events and programs and establish a scholarship fund for future students at Western Illinois University.

"I am thankful for everything that WIU has taught me and given to me, and I want to give back what I can. I have learned things about my future profession, professional and personal networking and leadership and management skills that will help me become a successful and productive citizen for years to come," he added.

The former valedictorian of Pettus High School is the son of Edward and Tery Bridge of Pettus, TX.

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