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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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Knox Student Laureate shares college experience and wisdom


Senior Isaac Hughes on a hike in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Courtesy of Isaac Hughes)

Senior Isaac Hughes on a hike in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Courtesy of Isaac Hughes)

The Lincoln Academy’s 2020 nominee from Knox College is a senior who exhibits overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities. He gives insight into his journey to this prestigious award. 

It was just another day sifting through the mail in his K-box when senior Isaac Hughes came across an award letter. At first, he thought he had made the Dean’s List for the current fall term. Yet upon closer inspection, he realized this award was something more prestigious: he’d been named Knox College’s Senior Student Laureate by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

“Ever since that moment, I’ve been learning more and more about the Lincoln Student Laureate Program,” said Hughes.

According to their website, the mission of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois is to honor Illinoisans making meaningful contributions to the betterment of humanity, as well as to honor seniors at every college in the state for overall excellence both inside and outside of their academic lives. Every year, the Lincoln Academy grants these accomplished seniors the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award, which they are nominated for by the executive members of the institutions they represent. In normal circumstances, a Medallion of Lincoln is bestowed upon each student by the Governor of Illinois in a ceremony at the state’s House of Representatives, in an effort to honor and inspire the next generation of leaders. 

Hughes shared his surprise at receiving the award, yet his extracurricular repertoire implies no insignificant achievements. Next to his athletic contributions to both the Cross Country team and the Ultimate Frisbee club, Hughes manages key roles in student organizations like Students for Sustainability and the Sunrise Movement Knox Hub. As early as his first year, he created his own club at Knox: Tea Club. Much of his present leadership commitments have sprouted from seeds of curiosity planted in his first year.

“There were some things I tried that weren’t too interesting, so I dropped [them] but then there were a lot of things that sustained through the four years. With every year, those interests got more and more involved,” said Hughes.  “And now, coming to my senior year, they’re really critical parts of who I am and part of my Knox experience.”

Perhaps his most visible involvement to the campus community is Hughes’s role in running the Instagram page for the Knox Farm. While holding a job on the farm and living in Galesburg over the summer, he thought it would be fun to extend his role of farmhand out of the dirt and into students’ social media feeds by increasing the farm’s engagement. Thus, combining his passion for the farm’s produce and love of cooking, Isaac has done cooking live streams with harvested ingredients on the Knox College Instagram page for upwards of 800 viewers, through the summer and fall term of 2020. 

For Hughes, having a genuine zeal for his commitments naturally breeds hard work and devotion. After trying out different clubs and activities in his first year, he weeded out the campus opportunities that were not as meaningful for him for those that were most exciting. Now as a senior, his commitment has deepened overtime for all the things he cares about most, and he is better able to discern those which are priorities for him.

“With college and the things that we do in college, it’s a matter of what you say yes to versus what you say no to, and I think that knowing when to say yes to things, opportunities and things like that, and when to say no to things, are skills that are really important to cultivate,” said Hughes. “I feel like setting that fine line of doing as much as you can while still being able to put value into those things is a pretty challenging thing to do, but if you can master that at Knox, it’s really beneficial.”

In absence of an in-person celebration, each laureate will receive a certificate signed by Governor Pritzker, a challenge coin and a $500 stipend.

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