Finance Major Elyce Knudsen named Millikin University’s 2023 Lincoln Laureate

Each fall, an outstanding senior from each of Illinois’ four-year degree-granting institutions is awarded the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award.

DECATUR, Ill. – Millikin University’s Elyce Knudsen has added another honor to her impressive resume. 

The senior Finance Major was named Millikin’s recipient of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois’ Student Laureate Award for 2023. The senior from Philo, Ill., received a monetary prize, a Lincoln medallion and a certificate of merit signed by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. 

Each fall, an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award and becomes a Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. In the spirit of Lincoln, student laureates are honored for their leadership and service in the pursuit of the betterment of humanity and overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities. 

Elyce Knudsen
Elyce Knudsen (middle) is Millikin’s recipient of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois’ Student Laureate Award for 2023. 

“The Lincoln Laureate Award is quite an honor to go along with Elyce’s other well-deserved recognition, awards, and honors during her time here,” Dean of the Tabor School of Business RJ Podeschi said. “The way she carries herself with grace and humility in the classroom and on the basketball court is inspiring to others. Elyce continues to be a model representative for Millikin. It’s a joy to lift up these accomplishments of our talented students.”

The award ceremony brought together the respective Lincoln Laureates from across the state, including some fellow CCIW athletes. 

Elyce Knudsen
Millikin's Elyce Knudsen (second from right) celebrates her honor with other Lincoln Laureates. 

“The award ceremony was a tremendous experience. Luckily, I stood right next to female student-athletes in the CCIW of all different majors and sports,” she said. “It was cool to hear about their experiences as a student-athlete for their respective universities. A sense of gratefulness came over me when I walked into the ceremony next to some of the greatest leaders from each university in Illinois.”

Elyce began her Millikin experience as an Accounting major but switched to Finance and appreciates the guidance the Tabor School of Business faculty and staff provided her. 

“The Tabor School of Business and Millikin faculty has been amazing in encouraging, aiding my learning and leadership qualities, as well as guiding me towards success to prepare me for future endeavors in my career,” Elyce said. “It was truly an honor to be nominated as the student to represent the excellence of Millikin University.”

Elyce Knudsen

During her three seasons as a standout player for the Big Blue Women’s Basketball Team, Knudsen has earned the CCIW Lori Kerans Student-Athlete of the Year Award twice as well as two unanimous CCIW First Team selections. She became the first Millikin basketball player to win the Jostens Trophy, a national award recognizing the most outstanding men's and women's Division III basketball players of the year.

“This award was very important to me, aside from athletic awards that I have received, because of the importance of leadership qualities in the recipient,” Elyce said. “I want to be a great student and a great athlete, but I also want to be a great leader for my peers and those who look up to me. The ceremony was motivational in that being a great leader with the right motivation will allow you to achieve any dream.”

The Big Blue have started 7-0 this season and defeated Augustana College on Wednesday in their CCIW opener, 85-48. Knudsen scored 36 points against the Vikings and has averaged 27.9 points per game this season. The team is ranked No. 16 nationally in NCAA DIII in the most recent poll by 

“Managing my time and staying organized has been my top priority. That has gotten easier in my years at Millikin, which has made balancing both being a successful student and an athlete much easier,” Elyce said. “Additionally, my peers keep me motivated, and professors and coaches guide me on a path to success.”