Joliet, Ill. – For University of St. Francis (USF) senior Morayma Barron of Joliet, her college experience has been what a she had hoped it would be and more. She has been challenged to grow as a student, to serve those in need, and to prepare herself for life after graduation. Her own efforts are helping her achieve those goals and beyond, while also garnering her accolades some along the way, as Barron has recently been named 2019 Student Laureate by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Each year, the Lincoln Academy of Illinois honors one outstanding senior from each of the State’s four year, not-for-profit degree granting institutions and one outstanding senior from among all of the community college students who demonstrate leadership, service and academic excellence. Honorees were celebrated at the 45th Annual Convocation and Investiture of Student Laureates on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 at the Hall of Representatives of the Old State Capitol Historic Site in Springfield.

“Being selected as the Lincoln Laureate means everything to me. It means that I have been able to connect with so many different people who have gotten to know me well. It is also such a huge honor not only to be nominated, but also to actually be selected as a recipient. I work hard and have my hand in several cookie jars, but I do it because I want to. I never thought I would receive an award such as this. I am just really grateful,” said Barron, who was nominated for the award by Orlando Griego, dean of USF’s College of Business and Health Administration, and Jeff Chiapello, USF’s director of academic advising, and who is also Barron’s cross country and track coach.

Barron certainly maintains a full schedule at USF, both in and out of the classroom. In addition to her studies as a double major in accounting and management with a minor in marketing, Barron is a member of the USF Fighting Saints women’s cross country and track teams. She is also serves as a student worker for Student Enrollment and the Career Success Center, and is an active member of several organizations and honor societies, including: Arthur Schmitt Scholars, F.R.E.E. (finance club), S.C.A.L.E.S. (accounting club), University Success Scholars, S.T.A.T. (Student Today Alumni Tomorrow), San Alberto Hurtado Latino Honor Society, Duns Scotus Honors Program, Delta Mu Delta and Delta Epsilon Sigma.

Barron also values the ability to volunteer and give back to the community. Last spring, USF’s accounting department and its students offered free tax preparation services for qualifying community members through the organization of a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. The group’s efforts were impactful, as they filed close to 260 tax returns for Joliet area residents.

“Volunteering at the VITA site was a great experience and I plan on doing it again this year. I had the opportunity to help low-income individuals get their taxes prepared. The best part for me was when I was able to help an individual who did not speak English. Growing up, neither of my parents spoke English too well, so often I had to be their translator. I never liked seeing my parents, or any individual, struggle to communicate. I know that they feel uncertain and do not want to embarrass themselves, so being able to help those individuals feel comfortable and understood is extremely important to me,” she said.

Barron also understands the importance of service, especially when one has the capacity to answer that call. She hopes that her own actions inspire others to answer that call, as well.

“I volunteer because I can. If I am able to help someone, then I see no reason why I shouldn’t do just that. It makes me happy to know that I helped someone or made a difference. It’s important to me because maybe other people will do the same,” she added.

As she enters the final leg of her undergraduate career at USF, Barron can begin to reflect on her experience at Joliet’s only four-year university with pride, knowing that it prepared her well for life after graduation this spring.

“I’ve experienced so many good things at USF. I have had so many wonderful opportunities to grow as a servant leader. I have been able to learn and study something I truly enjoy. I am a part of a great and hardworking team, and I have been able to meet such kind, caring and genuine people who want to see me succeed. I think the best part of it is that I got to experience all this and I will be graduating with zero college debt,” Barron said.

In addition to her final semester of coursework, Barron will continue to study for the CPA exam that she anticipates taking this spring. In June, she will begin her professional career with Deloitte, one of the big four accounting firms, as a tax consultant.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

(image caption – University of St. Francis senior Morayma Barron of Joliet, Ill., pictured with her mother and father, was named a 2019 Student Laureate by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.)

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