McKendree University senior Caleb Shipley is a 2020 recipient of the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award and a Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.
It is the state’s highest student honor for leadership, service and excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities, awarded to a noteworthy senior from each college and university. Shipley was being recognized during the 46th annual Lincoln Academy Student Laureate ceremony on Nov. 10. Historically held every fall at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site in Springfield, the event went virtual in 2020 due to restrictions on large in-person gatherings.
The elementary and special education major from Centralia, Ill., represents the ideal School of Education student: a caring practitioner, a lifelong learner, and a knowledgeable professional. “He has an easy ability to create a positive rapport with students but remain professional in his interactions with faculty and staff,” wrote one of his nominators. Others noted that he is “insightful” and both “reflective and open to the perspective others,” traits which will serve him well in his future teaching career.
Shipley volunteered for three years as a member of the Centralia Youth Commission and has been on five church mission trips to Mexico. He participates regularly in his hometown’s “Legs for Life” 5K run for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and was a Rotary Youth Leadership camp counselor for two years.
“Growing up, I was always taught by my parents and grandparents that helping people was the right thing to do,” he said. “My faith plays a huge part in that as well. The Bible says that even Jesus did not come to be served but to serve others and I feel that if we can all take that in and give ourselves up as servants when needed, there would be much less suffering in the world.”
This call to service has been an important part of his college experience at McKendree, where he has thrived. “The caring people here have made all the difference for me,” said Shipley. He been a student ambassador, First-Year Introduction group leader, and president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, organizing an FCA “Fields of Faith” event on campus in 2019. He is also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Eta Sigma academic honor societies and earned Academic All-Conference honors in the last three years as a member of the Bearcats football team.
The future educator hopes to become a devoted mentor to the young people under his supervision. Shipley is eager to start his special education teaching career soon after he graduates next spring. “I hope to coach and teach for a handful of years as I work to integrate more of the special education community into drama, athletics, music, and any other extracurricular activity,” he said. “I would eventually like to follow my father’s footsteps and continue my education in order to work my way into administration. My goal for my career is to positively impact as many lives as possible.”