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Academic Spotlight: Benet grad earns Senior 100 award from U of I

University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Alexander Senetar at the Senior 100 awards ceremony on May 8.  |  Submitted
Alexander Senetar, 22, was selected by the faculty at the Urbana-Champaign campus as a member of the prestigious Senior 100.  |  Submitted

In a graduating class of about 8,000 students, it might be hard to stand out. But that wasn’t the case for Naperville resident and 2014 University of Illinois graduate Alexander Senetar.

Senetar, 22, was selected by the faculty at the Urbana-Champaign campus as a member of the prestigious Senior 100. The award recognizes top members of the graduating class for their academic achievement, community service, and demonstrated leadership on campus and in the community.

“I am thrilled to be receiving the University of Illinois Senior 100 award, and to be placed in such a distinguished rank as past honorees,” said Senetar, a 2010 graduate of Benet Academy. “Every Senior 100 member has made tremendous and significant contributions; I am honored to represent Naperville, Benet Academy and University of Illinois as a local and national leader.”

The Naperville resident was nominated for the Senior 100 by University of Illinois faculty member Julie Kumar.

“I have waited two years to write this recommendation,” Kumar said. “Academically exceptional, altruistic and community oriented would best describe him.”

Kumar said as a student in her class at University of Illinois, Senetar “wrote the best undergraduate paper I have seen in my teaching career, both at Illinois and other institutions.”

“As my teaching assistant, I have seen his desire to help his fellow classmates reach that same level of competency,” she said. “He appears to measure his value in his ability to help others, as is evidenced by his time spent volunteering with the Special Olympics and Global Health Care. He is the student you wish to have in your class, the peer you wish to serve beside you at work, and hopefully, the friend we would all like to have.”

The award, Kumar said, says a lot about Senetar and his fellow honorees.

“This university is an exceptional place on a worldwide level; we attract some of the best young talent there is,” she said. “To be part of that a group, and to be at the top of it is really incredible to achieve. He deserves it; he worked hard.”

Senetar said his Benet education provided a solid foundation that he was able to build on in college.

“I have had tremendous support from two wonderful and amazing teachers at Benet Academy: Lisa Di Marco and John Taska,” he said. “Both inspired me daily to do my best and strive for my goals. They taught me that hard work does pay off, and they both made a huge difference in my life.”

He also had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Ira Rubin, of Naperville Pediatrics and founder of Mini Med School in Naperville. The community service program provides a hands-on experience for high school students serious about pursuing medicine as a career.

“Dr. Rubin has been my mentor, teacher, adviser, doctor and friend, and had unwavering support and faith in me,” said the 22-year-old. “He allowed me to be his teaching assistant at Mini Medical School for years, and has guided me every step of the way.”

Senetar graduated May 17 with a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience. In the fall, he plans to attend the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University in Downers Grove.

“Many people have encouraged me and supported me along the way,” Senetar said. “I know I would not be going to medical school or receiving the Senior 100 award without their incredible support.”

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