NCC senior has college ‘paying attention’
When President Hal Wilde announced that Peter Bulandr Jr., ’12, was honored as Outstanding Senior Man during honors convocation on Tuesday, Wilde made a bold statement about Bulandr.
“If you don’t know him now,” Wilde said, “let me tell you, you haven’t been paying attention.”
At six-foot-four and 270 pounds, Bulandr is hard to miss, but what Wilde was referring to is the fact that Bulandr is the recipient of one of the college’s two highest honors for graduating students. The Outstanding Senior Man and Outstanding Senior Woman awards recognize seniors for their overall contributions to campus life through academic achievement (a minimum 3.0 GPA is required) and extracurricular involvement. The Outstanding Senior Woman Award recipient of this year’s graduating class is Mary Caron, ’12.
“This past school year has been an unforgettable way to close out my four-year career at North Central College,” Bulandr said. “It is a very special feeling to have four years of hard work pay off in such an outstanding way.”
In addition to the Outstanding Senior Man Award, Bulandr received the Wall Street Journal Award given to the most exemplary student in the college’s Division of Economics and Business as decided upon collectively by faculty in the division.
The recipient of the award must possess academic ability, strong character and willingness to go above and beyond, according to Andrew Whitaker, Grantman professor in business and economics and professor of economics.
It would appear that the process of choosing Bulandr for the Wall Street Journal Award was hardly an arduous task.
“It was a quick consensus,” Whitaker said. “We immediately thought of Peter, and his name rose to the top of the pool.”
As a student athlete, Bulandr is also a four-year defensive lineman of the football team, where he served as captain and garnered many athletic and academic accolades. He was recently a top-10 finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy that recognizes the outstanding division III college football player in areas of athletics, academics and community service. Off the field, he maintains strong academic performance, and his name has appeared frequently on the college’s Dean’s List.
Bulandr considers Whitaker and Pat Gray, associate professor of finance, to be his two mentors at North Central.
“They both have taught me so much in the classroom, but also lifelong lessons that I will never forget,” Bulandr said. “The care and love they have for each student makes me proud to call myself a soon-to-be alumnus of North Central College, because it is people like Professor Whitaker and Gray who made this journey one which I will never forget. Not only that, but I am happy to say that I have made two lifelong friends.”
Whitaker established a relationship with Bulandr over the last two years as an instructor in four classes that Bulandr has taken with him.
“It was in a wealth management class I taught that I really got to know him,” Whitaker said. “Peter started asking questions after class, and that’s when I started to take notice. He asked great questions. I could tell that Peter was truly a great student, and I slowly found out more.”
Whitaker soon became aware of Bulandr’s academic ability. However, it was not until Bulandr approached him to write a recommendation letter that Whitaker realized the extent of Bulandr’s dedication to service.
“Peter doesn’t make a big deal out of it,” Whitaker said. “He just quietly does it and has a sense that he wants to be someone who gives back.”
A press release from North Central’s sports information office on Bulandr’s Gagliardi finalist status provides a long list of community service activities, including volunteering with the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Feed My Starving Children, the Greater Chicago Food Depository and a number of other organizations.
Bulandr has also been inducted into a number of honor societies such as the student-athlete honor society, the economics honor society and the finance honor society.
Whitaker says that when Bulandr puts on his glasses, a transformation takes place. He goes from looking like a big football player to a scholar who speaks with eloquence and intelligence in the classroom. Outside of the classroom, he gives back to the community through service and acts as a role model to other students.
Bulandr was grateful for the support of faculty who voted for him to receive the Outstanding Senior Man recognition, which he says is his most memorable moment from his time at North Central.
“I felt so honored to have faculty members from departments all over the college vote for me to represent the senior class,” Bulandr said. “It was even more rewarding to hear that several teachers within the economics and finance departments were crossing their fingers that the award would go to me. Knowing that I have so many people at North Central College that truly care about me and my future is a feeling that cannot be put into words.”
After graduating, Bulandr will begin work in July for a Chicago-based bank as part of a two-year rotational credit-training program.
With the end of Bulandr’s North Central career only a few weeks away, Whitaker acknowledges he will be losing one of his best students.
“Every year, there are a lot of students you will miss,” Whitaker said. “All of them are special, but some rise to a higher level. Peter is one of those students.”