Posted by Jeremy Pittenger on May 2, 2014
If art major Kayle Rieger was to create a collage representing her time at Aurora University, it would symbolize the qualities of leadership, academic excellence, citizenship, imagination and incredible character. It would also represent the reasons that she was the recipient of the 2014 Spartan Award, AU’s highest honor for graduating seniors.
“Receiving the Spartan Award means that not only did my professors have an immense influence on my time at AU, but that I had a positive impact on them as well,” said Rieger. “That’s very important to me. I always want to leave a positive impact on the people with whom I interact. Being nominated by my instructors for this award tells me that I am being that positive change I want to see in the world.”
Rieger made numerous contributions during her four years at AU. She participated in the Activities Programming Board and the LEAD program, including helping to coordinate the “A Day Without Shoes” and “Sleep Out on the Quad” events to raise awareness of homelessness. She also took a leadership role in the inaugural spring break mission trip with the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge program.
A naturally curious and energetic student, Rieger served as a curatorial assistant in the Schingoethe Museum and Art Gallery. She contributed to the award-winning exhibit Unraveling Revelations: Decoding the Prophetic Charts. Most recently, she curated the on-campus exhibit Exploitation: Portraits of Humanity, which featured her own art that focused on her passion for saving the environment.
“I think my outlook on life has changed throughout my time at AU,” she said. “I no longer feel the need to have everything figured out because somehow, I know it will all work out. And maybe that’s due to new confidence in myself and in my capabilities. I’ve really discovered my strengths and weaknesses through experiences as an undergrad, and my experience at AU gave me a better understanding of myself and what I want in the future, including the skills to achieve my goals.”
Rieger will be attending the University of Kansas this fall to pursue a master’s degree in museum studies with emphases in collections management and nonprofit leadership. “I’ve had my sights set on working as a collections manager at a museum,” she said. “However, after the Habitat for Humanity trip, I’ve really wanted to continue serving people—so I may lean toward working at a nonprofit somewhere.”