Parents show their love for their children in different ways, and for Liberty University senior Magdalene (Lynn) Thomas, Liberty’s fourth annual Family Weekend Banquet taking place Friday, Oct. 19 was a chance to honor her parents for all they have done for her.
Lynn’s parents, Paul and Lori Thomas, were chosen as this year’s Outstanding Parents of the Year after their daughter submitted an essay explaining why they should be chosen.
Lynn said that she decided to enter the contest because “(she) truly (loves her) parents and wanted to give back to them in some way.”
Her essay was selected as the winner out of 118 total submissions, according to Director of Parent and Family Connections Theresa Dunbar.
“All essays were submitted to a SharePoint site, and all the names were kept anonymous,” Dunbar said.
Lynn’s essay tells the story of her early childhood as a “hopeless orphan.” In the essay, Lynn refers to herself as “abused, overworked, starved and rejected.” She then continues to tell the story of her adoption from Korea at the age of 6.
The story of Lynn’s adoption particularly stood out to the judges.
“It was the favorite of the essays by a majority vote of our judges,” Dunbar said.
Lynn’s difficult childhood and the impact that her adoption has had on her life also played a role in the judges’ decision. From her essay, it was evident that Lynn “rose above her difficult first six years of life and grew from the love and spiritual strength her family provided to her,” Dunbar said.
Coming to Liberty was a direct result of the love and encouragement of Lynn’s parents.
“They encouraged me to attend Liberty University and excel in academic and leadership opportunities here,” she said.
Winning the contest was also an exciting moment for both Lynn and her parents.
“As soon as I heard the news, I went to call my parents,” Lynn said. “My parents were so proud of me and they were so honored.”
Paul and Lori Thomas are not only outstanding parents for Lynn, but for six other children as well.
“(I have) four brothers and two sisters,” Lynn said. “Three are birth and the rest are adopted.”
In addition to the presentation of the award at the Family Weekend Banquet, the Thomas family won a prize package including a two-night stay at the Wingate and free tickets to the football game among many other things, Dunbar said. Lynn was also recognized for her essay with 200 meal points and a gift certificate to the Liberty Bookstore.
In addition to the presentation of the Outstanding Parent of the Year award, the banquet included a performance from Sounds of Liberty and guest speaker Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr.
Lynn will be graduating with a degree in health promotions and plans to use it to help those facing the same desperate situations that she once did.
“My dream is to start a program that would provide resources and provide health education to orphans,” Lynn said. “When I was an orphan, I didn’t have the resources or know anything about health promotions, and I’d love to give back in some way.”