November 18, 2004

Illinois Student Laureate DeRuntz wins prestigious designation

by Paula M. Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Senior Stephanie M. DeRuntz, a mechanical engineering major at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has added another prestigious honor to her already impressive resume.She is one of 49 Illinois collegians recently chosen as Student Laureates by the esteemed Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

SIUC Chancellor and Mrs. Walter V. Wendler joined her at the Academy's 30th annual awards ceremony, held Nov. 6 in the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Student Laureate is the highest honor Illinois bestows on undergraduates. The awards recognize overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities by seniors at the state's four-year, degree-granting colleges and universities. One individual from among all Illinois junior college students, recommended by the Illinois Community College Board, also receives recognition.

"I feel very honored to have received this award. I have worked very hard throughout my education but I had never anticipated receiving such a prestigious award," said DeRuntz, who grew up in Imperial, Mo., where she attended Windsor High School, class of 2001.

Her parents are Michael J. and Mary T. DeRuntz, who now call Naples, Fla., home.

Honorees receive a medallion and a $150 honorarium.

A member of the University's Honors Program, DeRuntz carries a 3.9 grade-point average out of a perfect 4.0 at SIUC.

In addition to her coursework, she is conducting research on sensors that could further the treatment of diabetes, a project funded in part through an undergraduate research grant she won from SIUC. She also interned at a company that's working to design and manufacture improved surgical instruments.

She hopes to continue her work designing surgical implements at a biomedical engineering company after she graduates in May 2005.

DeRuntz's resume is chock full of scholarships and awards.

She also made time to preside over the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and to be corresponding secretary of Tau Beta Pi, a national engineering honor society. Additionally, she belongs to the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the Golden Key Honor Society and the Gamma Beta Pi Honor Society.

"I have enjoyed all of the organizations and activities that I have participated in over the last three years here at SIUC and I appreciate all of the support I have received from my family, friends, professors and colleagues. All of these people have made a large contribution to my receiving this award and I would like to extend my gratitude to all of them," she said.

DeRuntz has mentored new students in the college and has been a counselor at a special SIUC summer camp that introduces high school girls to the many facets and careers in engineering.

When she's not hitting the books, you might find her wielding a hammer in the Habitat for Humanity program, which builds homes for disadvantaged families. Or she might be cleaning up litter and garbage from area streams and roadways with the Beautify Southern Illinois campaign or Operation Clean Stream.

Engaging the whole student is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment , the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.