Northeastern Illinois University has nominated Alicia Ozier as the Northeastern 2016 Lincoln Academy Student Laureate.
The student laureates will be honored at a Nov. 12 reception in the Hall of Representatives in Springfield at the Old State Capitol followed by a luncheon at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel.
“We need leaders who have a sense of community engagement,” said Ozier, who will graduate in December with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. “This honor recognizes that I am stretching my leadership capacity but also maintaining that connection to the grassroots community.”
The Order of Lincoln was established in 1964 by proclamation of Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner to honor individuals whose contributions to the betterment of humanity have been accomplished in Illinois or whose achievements have brought honor to the state.
After years of working at a community organization on the West Side of Chicago that provides education and health care to adolescents who are exposed to or living with HIV, Ozier decided she wanted to develop her skills to make a greater impact on her home city. She enrolled at Northeastern at the age of 39 and progressed at her own speed, even taking a two-year break from her studies to serve in the Peace Corps in Gambia.
“Northeastern has been very welcoming,” she said. “The space in which we learn is challenging and allowed me to bring my professional experiences into the classroom to validate what I knew but also refine and attempt to learn new approaches.”
Ozier has particularly enjoyed her studies at Northeastern’s Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago.
“The Carruthers Center is so important to me as an African-American student,” she said. “The experience as a black student learning with a diverse body of students really refined my experiences from the Peace Corps. The professors allowed me to challenge what I thought I knew and gave me scholastic strength to be able to convey a style of leadership better than I had before.”
Now 48, Ozier is eager to pursue a master’s degree in social service administration.
“I really want to focus on global health and community development as an intervention for social wealth,” she said.