Northern Illinois University senior honors student Kate Green comes from a family of overachievers—and she seems destined to follow in those same footsteps.
Green's mom and dad are both Ph.D.-trained chemists and NIU alums. Her grandfather, retired Political Science Professor James Banovetz, is an NIU legend, credited with founding the university's nationally ranked graduate program in public administration.
The 22-year-old Green is blazing quite a trail of her own at NIU, where she has been named as the 2010 Student Lincoln Laureate—an annual honor reserved for the top senior from each of the state's public and private four-year colleges and universities.
The awards, which recognize excellence in both curricular and extracurricular activities, are presented during the annual Student Laureate Convocation each November at the historic Old State Capitol in Springfield.
"Kate is an academic superstar, a superb member of the NIU community and a wonderful person with an exceedingly bright future ahead of her," says Christopher Jones, who nominated Green and chairs the NIU Department of Political Science. "She has an intellectual maturity and curiosity that is uncommon for an undergraduate. She is also a natural and proven leader."
Green graduated from Geneva High School in 2007 and came to NIU with impeccable credentials: AP Scholar, Illinois Scholar, National Merit Scholar Finalist and recipient of the U.S. Girl Scouts' Gold Award, the organization's highest honor for teens. She had scholarship offers, but NIU made the most sense economically and academically.
"I knew Northern was a research university, but I also knew the university really focused on undergraduate education. I wasn't going to be just a number," she says. "Most of my classes have been with full professors who are well known in their fields."
At NIU, she picked up where she left off in high school, winning multiple scholarships and accolades. Green will graduate in May with bachelor's degrees in both political science and economics, along with a minor in Chinese. She has a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
Additionally, Green is already an active and published scholar of international relations. In March, she will present her latest research study—on U.S.-Iranian relations—at an international studies conference in Canada.
"I decided when I was 12 years old that I was going to be a political scientist, although I didn't really know what it meant," Green says, adding that her political scientist grandfather was her childhood hero.
After graduation next spring, Green intends to pursue a Ph.D. in political science, specializing in international relations. Her list of potential graduate schools includes Notre Dame, Northwestern and the University of Chicago. Ultimately, she plans on becoming a university professor.
"I've always been a driven person, and I definitely get that from my parents," she says. "My friends joke that I'm going into the family business, because we're all academically minded. I just love school and always have."
Despite the time Green devotes to academics, she somehow finds time for a part-time job and numerous extracurricular activities. She works 13 hours a week as a peer adviser for the NIU Honors Program. She also is an active member of the student ministry team for the Newman Catholic Student Center and serves on the Student Advisory Council for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
"I'm a type-A personality," Green says, "so every moment ends up being scheduled. Some days I spend 13 or 14 hours on campus without a break."
Green also was selected as vice chair of the Political Science Student Advisory Committee, where she works alongside professors, interviews faculty candidates and provides input on the department's new hires. The experiences may come in handy someday when she interviews for faculty jobs herself.
"I just work really hard, take opportunities where they come and things just fall into place," Green says.
Other NIU students considered for the Lincoln Laureate included first finalist Kara Piazza, a political science major from Cortland, and finalist Kaylee Walters, a biological sciences major from Rockton. Also nominated were Julia Funke, a Spanish translation and business major from Lake Zurich; Elizabeth Gibble, an actuarial science major from St. Charles; Colette Morgan, a political science major from Evergreen Park; and David Thomas, a journalism/political science major from West Chicago.
Northern Illinois University has designated the NIU Foundation as the charitable organization to receive and manage all gifts on its behalf.
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