University Park, IL,
14:03 PM

2018 GSU Lincoln Laureate: Athanasios Kolovos

GSU Anthropology/Sociology student Athanasios "Tommy" Kolovos is the 2018 GSU Lincoln Laureate. Each year, the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, recognizes and honors one senior from each of Illinois' four-year, accredited universities for their leadership and service in the pursuit of the betterment of humanity and for overall excellence in curricular and co-curricular activities.

Kolovos said the award is humbling. “It’s nice to be recognized for giving back to my community, and this award definitely leaves a legacy for Governors State, and empowers other students to see how they canmake changes in their own communities.”

Here's what nominating faculty wrote about the senior:

"Tommy is one of the most dedicated and civically minded students I have had the opportunity to teach. Both within the classroom and without, Tommy has shown that he is an engaged participant in the intellectual and social life of Governors State University. He is someone who I imagine will devote his life to public service, social justice, and the betterment of humanity.

In the classroom, Tommy demonstrates equanimity, thoughtfulness, and empathy, even in instances when he is engaged in vigorous debate. In a spring 2018 course on United States history since 1945, Tommy wrote passionate essays on economic inequality and the 1960s and 1970s rights revolutions, and always steered our conversations to the downtrodden and suffering. Despite Tommy’s interest in studying those who have been harmed by racism, sexism, greed, and government policy, he never descended into cynicism or despair. Rather, he persistently asked the question, what has the democratic experiment that is the United States done well, and what can it do better? This progressive mindset seems all too rare today. Consequently, it was always a pleasure to hear Tommy’s perspective on the topics that have shaped American life over the past 75 years.

Outside of the classroom, Tommy is one of the busiest people I know. With incredible energy, dedication, and efficiency, he participates in the intellectual life of Governors State University on a number of fronts. He works as a Study Abroad ambassador, as a student representative on the Student Conduct Committee, and as an office assistant in the Office of the Provost. Beyond juggling these jobs and services with his coursework, Tommy also serves as student ambassador for the Embassy of Spain’s Miami-based Study in Spain program. He still somehow finds time to support himself with his job at a restaurant.

This past summer, as a Gilman Scholar at Governors State University’s Honors Leadership Seminar in Rome, Tommy researched and presented a project on travel safety for members of the LGBTQIA community. He was also awarded a Lex Fellowship in Madrid, Spain where he learned about international business law. Early next year, he will be working with Global Brigades in Panama City, Panama where he will assist lawyers in conducting legal clinics to help poor and rural families address human rights violations including human trafficking.

At every turn, Tommy has pursued opportunities that allow him to work with poor, underserved, or marginalized communities. And in each instance, he seeks to extend the rights and protections guaranteed by the rule of law.

While Tommy’s accomplishments are quite remarkable for a student so young, it is his energy and compassion that really make him stand out. Tommy’s commitment to social justice, equity, and civic engagement are unparalleled in my experience. He is a shining example of the kind of commitment to public life and democratic politics that animated Abraham Lincoln’s life. I can think of no better young ambassador for Governors State University or the state of Illinois than Tommy. It is with great enthusiasm, then, that I recommend Athanasios Kolovos for the Student Laureate Award of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois."