This is an archived press release. Some links may no longer function. For assistance, please contact

Oct 20, 2008

DePaul Honoree Addresses Student Lincoln Laureates In Springfield

DePaul University student Charlene Rhinehart has earned an honor offered only to the very best of the best college students in Illinois.  The college senior was not only named a Student Laureate by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois for her collegiate achievements, but also was selected from this year's 44 awardees to deliver the keynote address at the organization's annual Student Convocation held Oct. 18 in Springfield.


The non-profit, non-partisan academy recognizes the accomplishments of the state's top college students each fall by presenting a Student Laureate Medallion to one outstanding senior nominated from each of the state's participating four-year, degree-granting universities. Rhinehart, who double-majored in accountancy and finance and minored in community service, said she was "shocked and excited" to be chosen as the voice of the 2009 Laureate class. She gave her speech during an awards ceremony held in the Old State Capitol's House of Representatives chamber, where the namesake of the award, Abraham Lincoln, delivered his famous "house divided" speech in 1858.


The academy honors students for succeeding in both curricular and extracurricular activities. With a 3.67 grade point average, Rhinehart served a one-year term as president of the DePaul Golden Key International Honour Society and is a member of five other honor societies. She also has been a leader in numerous student and community organizations at DePaul.  Rhinehart co-founded the DePaul Community Service Association's INSPIRE program, which provides volunteer tutors for Libby Elementary School students; she was a fellow and peer mentor for the university's Student Leadership Institute; a fellow with the Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning; a student government senator and peer mentor; and vice president and community service chair for the National Association of Black Accountants, among other activities.


In her speech, Rhinehart, a resident of Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, discussed overcoming obstacles as a first-generation college student growing up in a low-income neighborhood.  "My persistence and desire to make a difference in my life and the lives of others not only motivated me to achieve great things, but to attend a university that would help to provide that nourishment I needed to develop as a socially responsible leader. Despite financial trials, newly developed fears, and doubts about my capabilities, I was able to obtain a fulfilling college experience by remaining committed to my academics, my goals, and my community."


"This is one of the state's highest honors for college students, and to be chosen as the student speaker undersores Charlene’s extraordinary accomplishments," said the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., DePaul president. "We're very proud of Charlene, who is a shining example of the DePaul community's dedication to academic excellence and service."


John B. Simon, chancellor of the Lincoln Academy and a partner at Jenner & Block, said students like Rhinehart "remind you every year that there is nothing wrong in America."


"These students have exhibited a personal commitment to excel as seen by their remarkable academic accomplishments," said Simon.  "But just as important, these students serve as role models to other Illinois students, as well as their own family and friends.  With hard-working, dedicated individuals such as these, Illinois and the rest of the nation can look forward to a bright and prosperous future."


Louanner Peters, deputy governor of Illinois, presented the medallions to Rhinehart and her fellow honorees. Each also received a $150 honorarium and a certificate of achievement.


(View Larger Image)
John B. Simon, chancellor of the Lincoln Academy; Dia S. Weil, DePaul University trustee; Charlene Rhinehart, DePaul Student Lincoln Laureate; Louanner Peters, deputy governor of Illinois; and Ernest R. Wish, DePaul lifetime trustee at the Academy’s Student Convocation Oct. 18 in Springfield.

(View Larger Image)
Charlene Rhinehart, Student Lincoln Laureate from DePaul University.