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Senior Wins Henry Award
June 8, 2006

A Calvin senior recently won the Congressman Paul Henry Integrity Award scholarship from the Founding Values Initiative.

Nathan Tonlaar, a biology major from Tamaly, Ghana, received a $500 scholarship, a plaque and an engraved pen from the organization at a May luncheon at the Peninsular Club.

The theme of the luncheon, which Tonlaar attended with Calvin president Gaylen Byker and Jeff Bouman, director of the college’s service-learning center, was “Celebrating the Era of Gerald R. Ford,” a time when individuals of high integrity “came to aid in re-instilling trust in public servants.”

“I was very honored,” Tonlaar says. “It was definitely nice to be recognized.”

The initiative recognized three individuals with awards named for local public servants. State Senator Bill Hardiman was given the Congressman Paul Henry Integrity Award. Mike Jandernoa garnered the Ambassador Peter Secchia Heartfelt Commitment Award and Grand Rapids Police Chief Harry Dolan was recognized with the Congressman Hal Sawyer Justice Award.

Along with Tonlaar, students from Aquinas College, Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University were each given $500 scholarships in those major award categories.

Tonlaar was nominated for the scholarship by the Office of the President at Calvin for his work in service-learning — notably his ACT test preparation program at Ottawa Hills High School. Tonlaar pioneered the program, which matched Calvin biology, chemistry, physics and math students with juniors and seniors from Ottawa Hills High School to prepare the former for the science and math sections of the ACT test. The program served 27 Ottawa students.

“Nathan typifies some of the best things about Calvin College,” Byker says. “His creativity and desire to be engaged in improving the community with a specific high-impact program are good examples of what Calvin is trying to instill in its students.”

“I didn’t know it was going to result in so many things happening,” Tonlaar says of the recognition he has received following the success of the program. “I try not to dwell on it too much and just go on with my work — try to improve what I did last year.”

Tonlaar, who is currently serving an internship in cardiovascular pharmaceutical research at Pfizer, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri, hopes to expand the tutoring program next year to include students who are not taking the ACT but who are weak in the natural sciences.

“We talk about training leaders for renewal of all things,” says Byker, “and Nathan certainly got the message.”

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson