There is an award reserved for brilliance among Illinois’ higher education, and this year, that award was given to Bradley University’s own Rhome Apton.
On Nov. 16, Apton, senior civil engineering major, received the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award. Since 1975, the award has recognized seniors of exemplary character. One vital aspect of this character is noteworthy academic performance, exemplified by Apton’s inclusion on the Dean’s Lists for the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019.
However, he said character is built most outside of the classroom, both in extracurriculars and leadership and service done “in the pursuit of the betterment of humanity,” as per the Academy’s website.
Apton embodies this with his extensive presence in the school community as a Bradley Fellow, student aide, Alternative Break Site Leader, Peer Educator, Big Brother Mentor and member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.
To this end, he was awarded the bronze variant of the President’s Volunteer Service Award this past May for over 100 hours of service.
Moreover, his interning and chairman work for engineering businesses such as TranSystems Corporation, American Institute of Steel Construction and American Society of Civil Engineers substantiates his candidacy for the award.
While he was ecstatic to hear the news, Apton is adamant on describing his reaction to the award as one disinterested in glory and popularity.
“Recognition is not why I’m involved in the community,” Apton said. “To me, this award is motivation.”
“Leadership and service is a way of paying it forward, except I don’t expect anything in return,” Apton said. “If I can do something, no matter how big or small, to help improve someone’s day just a little bit, why would I not want to do that?”
Apton was officially inducted as a Student Laureate by the Lincoln Academy at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site in Springfield, alongside fellow recipients and representatives of Illinois’ colleges and universities.
Anne Hollis, executive director for student support services, put forth the recommendation for Apton.
Apton summarized his plans for the future by drawing from the words of one of the three speakers at his Student Laureate induction ceremony.
“We’ve all made good strides in our lives up to this point, but that’s no reason to stop,” Apton said, evoking the speaker’s message. “Why not keep pushing the limit, and why not be hungry for more?”
His set of goals — working for a consulting firm, moving to the Chicagoland area, and taking part in an engineering non-profit — all tie into a wider objective of self-improvement.
“The better we are, the better we can do to help make this world a better place,” Apton said.