Statewide Leadership Awards Go to Benedictine College Graduates

Statewide Leadership Awards Go to Benedictine College Graduates

Published: Monday, May 15, 2017

Two graduating seniors at Benedictine College were surprised with the announcement of the Fran Jabara Leadership Awards during this year’s Commencement Exercises. Lauren Benzing, of Solon, Iowa, and Jeff Fennewald, of Troy, Missouri, are this year’s recipients of the annual award that goes to select graduating seniors at four-year, private colleges in Kansas.

Dr. Fran Jabara, founder of the Jabara Family Foundation, established the award in 2002 as a means of recognizing graduating seniors who display exemplary leadership skills. The award indicates the high level of ability the recipients have displayed as well as the respect with which their peers and teachers view them.

Lauren BenzingBenzing embraces Benedictine’s mission of community, faith and scholarship. She is the first All-American cross-country runner in the school’s history and she was a member of the National Championship 4x800 relay team, the first national championship team since men’s basketball won the title 50 years ago.

She has been very involved on campus, serving as a vice president for Ravens Respect Life, a One Love Ministry Chastity Speaker, and coordinator of Benedictine’s chapter of Love & Responsibility. During the summers, she worked interesting internships at the Theology of the Body Institute in Pennsylvania and the World Youth Alliance, a UN organization, in New York.  Her passion for her personal mission has enabled her to travel around the country, speaking at places like the United Nations, New York University, and Texas A&M University. In February, she was the featured student speaker at the college’s annual Scholarship Ball and received a standing ovation.

Benzing was a Gregorian Fellow and maintained a presence on the Dean’s List or President’s List every semester. She is graduating summa cum laude with degrees in Theology and Philosophy and will go on to be a missionary and speaker for the Culture Project, an initiative of young people set out to restore culture through virtue.

Ultimately, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in theology or psychology and eventually offer counseling services and classes integrating psychology with philosophy and Theology of the Body.

Jeff FennewaldFennewald is Mathematics and Theology major from Troy, Missouri. He, too, has been deeply involved in all aspects of the community, faith and scholarship mission of Benedictine College. Br. Leven Harton of St. Benedict’s Abbey described him as a natural leader with a real desire to serve others.

And he has done just that. In addition to being a member of the men’s Track & Field team as a pole-vaulter, for example, he started a men’s Bible study for the track team.

He is the only student to have gone on the Haiti mission trip all four years of his college career. He worked hard to raise money each year for the trip, and actually raised more than $15,000 over the four years for the people of Haiti.

In addition to that, he helped others in their fundraising efforts so they could do the same thing. For the last two years, he led that mission trip. He also helped spread the word about the situation in Haiti by presenting a Discovery Project on ‘Poverty in Haiti.’

Another example of his desire to serve others came just recently during Senior Week. He reached out to his classmates and the Residence Life staff to prepare a special lunch for the Campus Dining staff. The students cooked, served and cleaned as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to the staff. This is the first time this has ever been done and demonstrates his humility and love for others.

Finally, he has been a lead Admission Office tour guide, where he has affected hundreds of potential new students.

After graduation, Fennewald will be attending Kenrick Glennen Seminary in St. Louis. The seminary has produced both Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and the college’s 2016 Commencement Speaker.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.