Leona J. Ablah Award bestowed upon Courtney Klaus

The 2020 Ablah Award winners were announced during the virtual commencement ceremony held on May 8, 2020.

Courtney Klaus was awarded the Leona J Ablah Award and Jose Rojas the Harvey J. Ablah Award.

The Ablah Awards, established by Fran and Geri (Ablah) Jabara, honor the memory of Geri’s parents, Harvey J. and Leona J. Ablah, and perpetuate their vision of entrepreneurialism and the American dream.

Award recipients must have completed at least 62 credit hours at Newman University and graduate with a grade point average of 3.2 or higher. Each student receives a $2,500 award.

This award is kept a surprise until its announcement during the graduation ceremony.

Klaus spent the day of virtual commencement with her family. As she watched the ceremony on her dad’s television, the award announcement left her speechless she said.

“I was blown away by the announcement and subsequent video footage of me that they had compiled. It was sort of like I got to see my whole Newman experience flash before my eyes one last time.”

Provost Kim Long announced the award winners. She said, “Courtney walked onto campus with enormous shoes to fill as a multiple-legacy student. She immediately began to forge a path that was uniquely her own.”

Long drew attention to Klaus’s seemingly endless list of achievements and involvement while on campus. Klaus was a member of the Honors Program, a member and officer of the Student Government Association, a resident assistant, editor of the student newspaper, an officer of multiple clubs, a student ambassador, a volunteer and so much more.

Klaus graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in Communication and History – Summa Cum Laude. She entered Newman as a Cardinal Newman Scholar, found a place on the Dean’s list every semester and was inducted into multiple honor societies throughout her four years on campus.

Klaus (front right) poses with the staff of the student newspaper – The Vantage – along with all of the awards they won for their work.

However, none of those things would have been so special if it weren’t for the people who encouraged her and guided her along the way.

“As cliche as it sounds, the thing I enjoyed the most about Newman was the people. Both the professors and staff encouraged me to explore my interests and talents. They made me want to get involved on campus and put my best effort into everything that I did. I also loved working with the other students here. From the newspaper editors to the residence life staff, every student group I ever worked with here was full of capable, mature, and inspiring people,” she said.

Klaus poses with her father, Board Chair J.T. Klaus, at 2019 Party on the Plaza

Klaus has plans to move to Indianapolis in August to pursue a law degree at the University of Notre Dame.

She thanks her Newman experience for the ambition she now finds in herself, a trait she believes will help her succeed in law school.

“This ambition extends into both what I believe I can personally get out of life, and into how I believe I can effect change in my community. That’s the attitude I’m entering law school with now,” she said. “I think having that perspective will motivate me to continue to try and make a positive difference wherever I’m at.

“I want to thank everyone who got me this far. My Newman experience would not have been as great as it was without the love and support I got from my family back home, or without the mentors and friends I met here along the way.”

Watch the video HERE.



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