Indiana State University Newsroom

Alumni Association honors two with GOLD Award

February 14, 2011

The Indiana State University Alumni Association has presented recent graduates Jessica Robertson Benell and Melanie Zeck with the Graduate of the Last Decade Award.

The award recognizes graduates who are outstanding in their professions; have made significant contributions to their communities, states or nation; and have exhibited interest in the university and/or the ISU Alumni Association since leaving the campus.

The 2011 awards were presented Friday (Feb. 11) during a celebration in ISU's Heritage Lounge.

Robertson Benell is deputy commissioner of the Indiana Department of Administration, the latest in a series of state government positions she has held following her 2005 graduation from Indiana State's Scott College of Business with a bachelor of science in finance. She previously served in the strategic sourcing division of the Department of Administration and worked with the Family and Social Services Administration and Department of Child Services. She has also served as a Governor's Fellow.

While a student, Robertson Benell served as treasurer and chief of staff for the Student Government Association and represented the student body on the ISU Board of Trustees during her junior and senior years. She was one of three former student trustees to return to campus in 2007 in support of groundbreaking for the new Student Recreation Center and in recognition of her leadership in helping to make the project a reality.

She was also a member of the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, class of 2008-09. Her parents and sister are also ISU alumni.

Zeck, A 2000 magna cum laude graduate with a bachelor of music (bassoon performance) and a bachelor of arts in music theory, is completing doctoral studies in historical musicology at the University of Chicago. She is also serving as a research assistant in the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College-Chicago. She previously completed a master's degree in library and information science from Dominican University and a master of music with a focus in musicology from Northwestern University.

While at Indiana State, Melanie received numerous awards and scholarships. She was one of the university's first Presidents Scholars and received the Psi Iota Xi Music Scholarship, Alan C. Rankin Memorial Distinguished Senior Award, and Pi Kappa Lambda (Delta Mu) Outstanding Senior Award. She was also a three-time winner of the ISU Research Showcase, Humanities Division.

She also held many student leadership positions, serving as president of the Iota Eta chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity, a member of the music department's student advisory board, and the American Chemical Society-Student Affiliates. Since graduating from Indiana State, Zeck has remained involved with ISU both as a lecturer for the University Honors Program and as an English as a Second Language tutor.

Photos: - Jessica Robertson Benell - Melanie Zeck

Contact: Jennifer Lewellyn, associate director, Indiana State University Alumni Association,