A student in the College of LAS has been chosen again for this year’s Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Award, which recognizes university seniors for their excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.
Thomas Dowling, a double-major in political science and history, has been named the Lincoln Laureate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Each four-year, degree-granting college and university in the state has one Laureate per year. It’s the 43rd year for the award.
A ceremony took place at Old State Capitol State Historic Site in Springfield.
“I really buy into the university’s land grant mission,” said Dowling, a Chicago native. “I think it’s really important to have institutions that are dedicated to advancing leaders for the state and that represent the values of that state, and that’s why I originally came to the University of Illinois. That’s what the Lincoln Laureate Award represents.”
The award is meant to memorialize Abraham Lincoln and his contribution to civic engagement and staying engaged within one’s community. Last year, Shivaliben “Shivali” Bhargavkumar Patel, a double-major in global studies and molecular and cellular biology, won the award from the College of LAS at the University of Illinios.
Dowling has a primary interest in American legislative politics as well as state and local politics. This aligns with his recent naming as a Truman Scholar last spring. The scholarship recognizes young people committed to public service leadership.
“All of the work I’ve done at the University of Illinois is centered around the community of Champaign Urbana and local politics here,” Dowling said.
As the deputy chief of staff for State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, this past summer, Dowling involved with the passage of HB 6200, which lowered the cost of phone calls for incarcerated people in Illinois.
“I drove down to Springfield almost every week to lobby for that bill and it was a great opportunity to stay engaged in legislative work, Dowling said.
Dowling has worked with the Center for American Progress in D.C, on the Bernie Sanders Campaign in Iowa, and is currently a Wolff intern for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at Illinois.
“The most helpful person I’ve worked with at the university of Illinois has been James Kuklinski—a [retired] faculty member in the Department of Political Science. His role for me as I was student was primarily introducing me to some of the topics and research in political science. He was always incredibly generous with his time and always sat down with me and walked me through the problems that I was facing during my research,” Dowling said.
Dowling hopes to eventually work in Chicago in politics and civic engagement.
“The Laureate Award symbolizes that I did achieve my goal of being a well-rounded individual that will be able to work in the state of Illinois in the future,” Dowling said.