BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –– Five Illinois Wesleyan University senior leaders have been recognized
as recipients of the 2020 Senior Leadership Awards, announced virtually Thursday afternoon
by Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Karla Carney-Hall.
“It is my greatest pleasure to work with student leaders from all aspects of campus
life,” Carney-Hall said. “It is my sincere honor to celebrate outstanding senior leaders.”
More than 50 seniors were nominated for recognition in five categories: Intellectual
Leadership, Cultural Leadership, Leadership as a University Employee, Service to the
Community, and Leadership for Campus Life. Senior Leadership Award-winners include
Sydney Shanks, Tayyibah Ahmed, Kalen Gray, Hannah Horn and Kayley Rettberg.
Intellectual Leadership –– Sydney Shanks
Sydney Shanks excels in the classroom, in her research, and on the basketball court.
She was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing,
which is the second-largest nursing organization in the world. She also embraced additional
clinical responsibilities during an academic internship to hone her leadership and
clinical skills. Not only has Shanks excelled in clinical work, but she has also contributed
to honors research work which involves the content validity testing for a survey of
healthcare workers related to cultural competency, specifically the perception of
Muslim nurses. When she wasn’t in the classroom, Shanks was excelling on the court
as captain of the 2019-20 CCIW Tournament-champion Titan women’s basketball team.
A two-time First Team All-CCIW selection, Shanks has also earned a spot on the Academic
All-Conference Team for the past three years.
A nominator wrote, “Sydney is an exemplary IWU student who has excelled in all leadership
areas for which the award addresses.”
Cultural Leadership –– Tayyibah Ahmed
Tayyibah Ahmed has been actively engaged with IWU Interfaith, Alternative Spring Break,
the Spiritual Life Leadership Committee, and the Council on Religious Life. With her
well-honed leadership skills from the Summer Enrichment Program, she provides powerful,
creative and inspiring leadership for the Muslim Student Association as their president,
the Multifaith Ambassador team, and many campus programs including Interfaith Summits,
Light the Night, and Harvesting Help. Ahmed is respected among peers for her community
building, positive perspective and support for others.
A nominator wrote, “Taaba builds community and offers her perspectives and support
to others. She is beloved by her peers for these qualities and is a trusted and trustworthy
Leadership as a University Employee –– Kalen Gray
Kalen Gray has worked tirelessly for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) for
four years as both a mentor and marketer. Gray mentors new students through his work
with Pre-Orientation, and he promotes engagement with ODI, diversity, and inclusion
by marketing events to the entire student body. Gray co-writes a blog for students
of color, and as an extension of his passion for ODI work, he founded the Men of Color
student organization on campus.
A nominator wrote, “Kalen’s maturity along with his willingness to speak up against
unfairness has made him an exceptional leader since the day he stepped foot on this
campus thus gaining the respect of his peers, faculty, and staff across the University.”
Service to the Community –– Hannah Horn Hannah Horn serves multiple communities, both on and off campus. She volunteers consistently
in the Peace Garden and through her internship with the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’
She also serves the campus community through the Campus Activities Board, the Argus, and Residence Life. Horn builds residential communities by connecting personally
with people on her floor and in her building. She builds Titan community through CAB
social programming that enhances engagement by mentoring and developing future leaders
for CAB. And, Horn serves students as an advocate through the Senate, the Ames Advisory
Committee, and more.
A nominator wrote, “Hannah takes campus life to another level because not only is
she heavily involved on campus, she also makes everything around her run smoother
and simultaneously raises the quality of work of everything she is involved in.”
Leadership for Campus Life –– Kayley Rettberg Demonstrating both breadth and depth, Kayley Rettberg has been involved with student
advocacy groups like Student Senate (as chief of staff) and the Senior Committee (as
president); political experiences like College Democrats (vice president), Pi Sigma
Alpha (president) and political campaigns
(internships); service commitments through Prairie State Legal Services and Alternative
Spring Break; inclusion activities by serving as the president of the Secular Student
Alliance and as an active participant in ReligiosiTEA; and, she served as team captain
of the Ethics Bowl. Additionally, Rettberg has already been recognized by membership
in Mortar Board, Phi Beta Kappa, as an Eckley Scholar and as this year’s Lincoln Laureate.
A nominator wrote, “Kayley’s contributions to campus life are vast, and her election
as Senior Class President and her selection as IWU’s Lincoln Laureate for this year
are testament to her academic achievement, service, and leadership.”
Last year’s Senior Leadership Award-winners included: Abby Kauerauf (Intellectual
Leadership), Alani Sweezy (Cultural Leadership), Ben Nielsen (Service to the Community),
Bob Ladd (Service to Campus Life), and Veronica Torres Luna (Service as University