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Former Morton College cross country runner honored November 3 with prestigious Lincoln Student Laureate Award
 November 1, 2012

When Brenda Bedolla is honored at a ceremony as the Student Laureate award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, the Morton College (Ill.) student will be carrying the banner for all of the state’s 48 community colleges. 

The Lincoln Academy Student Laureate award, which honors students for their involvement in curricular and extracurricular activities, couldn’t go to a person more deserving than Bedolla. Talented, passionate, appreciative, energetic, upbeat and giving are among the many wonderful traits making up Bedolla.

Bedolla, who ran on the women’s cross country team at Morton College during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, quickly passes the credit along to those who have helped her on the path through life.    

“The award is for everyone who has helped me at Morton College,” the Cicero resident said. “I’ve always been so lucky to have people who have been there for me in my life. I have had so many great mentors.”

“Brenda is so excited about life,” said Karen Querfurth, who has witnessed her fair share of student leaders cross her desk as Executive Assistant to the President and Clerk to the Board of Trustees, “and about the leadership and responsibilities she has been given. She wants others to enjoy and she invites them at every opportunity as well. That’s the mark of a true leader – one who is willing to share.” 

Governor Pat Quinn will present Bedolla and students from the state’s 52 participating colleges with medallions in a ceremony at the Old State Capitol in Springfield on Saturday, November 3. A luncheon follows at the Governor’s Executive Mansion.

Bedolla is just the second recipient from Morton College in the program’s history. Seventeen years ago, Margaret Bitten was selected as a Lincoln Academy Student Laureate in 1995.

“I’m looking forward to the ceremony,” said Bedolla, who also will receive a $500 scholarship. “I’m excited to be going to Springfield and having a chance to meet the Governor.” 

For Bedolla, Morton College gave her a “do-over” and made up for spending most of her time at Morton East High School in Cicero sitting on the sidelines as a spectator. Morton College provided Bedolla her opportunity to go for the gusto and take in all college life offers.

“I ran track my senior year in high school,” Bedolla said. “Until then, I really didn’t feel fulfilled. I decided I wasn’t going to make the same mistake in college. I was going to get involved.”

Bedolla is the current Student Representative on Morton College’s Board of Trustees, vice president of the Morton Ambassador Program and chairs the Student HOPE Scholarship, which assists Morton College students not eligible for federal financial aid. She’s a campus media celebrity, hosting “Panther Central”, a weekly radio program; and writes a column from the Student Trustee perspective for the Collegian, the school newspaper.

She’s involved in “A Million Reasons Why,” a new initiative by the Illinois Community College Board to promote the benefits of the state’s community college system. Because Morton College is a Hispanic Serving Institution, Bedolla and three administrators from Morton College shared personal and professional experiences last month at the Iowa Latino Education Initiative Conference. 

Bedolla also ran this year’s Chicago Marathon to benefit a children’s literacy program and did a walk to benefit Alzheimer’s. She also works 20 hours a week at a part-time job and attends school full-time.

“She’s very unselfish,” said Marisol Velazquez, Morton College’s Student Activities and Workforce Director. “Whatever Brenda does, she does it for the students. Brenda brings a lot of new ideas of what students want. She’s a good voice for the students.”

Interim President R. Gene Gardner, who has been in community college education for five decades, describes Bedolla as “a young lady with a great passion for Morton College and her fellow students. She relates well to a wide variety of individuals in both age and background.”

“She’s a giver,” Querfurth added. “She takes nothing for granted. She works hard. I also find her to be a very appreciative person of everything, whether you hand her a pen or help with a bigger mission. She’s so unselfish – it’s not about her. It’s about the cause, the purpose, the mission. I love that about her.”

Bedolla plans on transferring to Northeastern Illinois University next year. She plans on majoring in sociology and women’s and gender studies.

“Morton College is such a great place to start,” Bedolla said. “I never imagined I’d be where I’m at today. This is such a great honor to be selected.”

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