SIU’s 2023 ‘diligent, unfailingly optimistic’ Lincoln Laureate aspires to be a physician
CARBONDALE, Ill. – A college senior and honors student from southeast Illinois majoring in physiology is the 2023 Lincoln Academy of Illinois student laureate for Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Alexis Hamon, of Aviston, Illinois, will receive the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award in October. The Lincoln Academy of Illinois will present the award along with a $1,000 stipend to one outstanding graduating senior from each of the state’s four-year colleges and universities, as well as one from the state’s community colleges.
Students are honored for their leadership and service in the pursuit of the betterment of humanity and for overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities. Hamon plans to pursue medical school and become a physician.
“Winning this award means the world to me,” Hamon said. “I am so grateful for this incredible nomination, and I’m honored to represent SIU.”
As SIU’s Lincoln Laureate for the year, Hamon said she hopes to inspire other students to take advantage of all SIU has to offer and to encourage them to put their passion to good use in the community.
“With such a supportive system and community, the sky is truly the limit,” Hamon said. “SIU gives students all of the necessary tools to achieve all they desire.”
At SIU, Hamon said she particularly enjoyed participating in the upper-level physiology courses, and working with Dale “Buck” Hales, professor of physiology with the SIU School of Medicine, and his work on understanding ovarian cancer. As a freshman, Hamon began working on Hales’ research into dietary intervention methods involving flaxseed for ovarian cancer.
“This gave me the opportunity to work in a professional research lab setting with many intelligent lab members,” she said. “Doing research as an undergraduate supplemented the strong educational background SIU provides with the many high-level courses taught by very accomplished and passionate professors.”
Hales said Hamon established herself as an expert in histotechnology, which involves using microscopic methods to detect and diagnose tissue abnormalities in the lab. Some of her observations led to the discovery that flaxseed feed has a major impact on ovarian tumors.
“Alexis is bright — a quick study and fast learner — and she has shown that she not only has good hands but is also diligent and not easily discouraged, which is important in research and clinical science,” Hales said. “Not only does she have a great work ethic and gets along very well with others in the lab, but she is unfailingly optimistic and always cheerful.”
A 2020 Chancellor’s Scholarship recipient and member of the University Honors Program, Hamon also received the Masonic Lodge Health Care Scholarship and made the high-honors dean’s list every semester. This year, she received the SIU undergraduate Distinguished Service Award for her dedication to the SIU campus and Carbondale community.
Hamon also served as president of Timmy Global Health, an SIU registered student organization that promotes global and local health by helping local people without homes acquire goods and services.
“Alexis’ demonstrated commitment to the support, advancement and achievement of her fellow students, their campus and the surrounding community exemplifies exactly the type of student the state’s Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois seeks to recognize and promote,” said Jyotsna Kapur, director of the University Honors Program.
With a projected May 2024 graduation date, Hamon currently is applying to medical schools. She said SIU has provided a comfortable, family-like environment that helped her thrive.
“Each faculty and staff member that I have encountered has been kind and genuine in their desire to help me succeed,” Hamon said. “All of these experiences together allow me to push forward in pursuit of my goals with full confidence and a team of supporters by my side.”