‘Mom of the Year’ winner continues Illinois tradition


Photo Courtesy of Maura Carr

Maura Carr alongside her mom, Maureen Carr, after Moms Association award ceremony.

By Olivia Bienvenue, Staff writer

On the morning of April 8, Maureen Carr sat with her three daughters in the Illini Union Ballroom, full of excitement and anticipation, enjoying their company and happy to be back at the school she loves.

According to the University’s student union website, the Amelia Alpiner Stern Mom of the Year Award is given annually by the University Moms Association on Moms Weekend to an outstanding mother for her support, encouragement and inspiration to her student.

Maureen Carr has done that for not one, but all four of her children that attended the University. That is why this year, her daughter, Maura Carr, senior in Music, decided to nominate her for the award.

After submitting the nomination form, which consisted of several essay questions about the nominee’s best qualities and community work, Maura received a call over spring break notifying her that her mom was one of the three finalists for the Mom of the Year Award.  

Finally, at the annual Moms Association Meeting & Awards Presentation, Maureen Carr was announced as the Mom of the Year.

Maura Carr said she had been more than happy to nominate her mom for the award.

“The essay was just incredibly easy to write because there were just so many stories and so many wonderful things that I had to share about her,” Maura Carr said.

Maureen Carr wrote in an email that even when she was young she wanted a family, and being a mom has been better than she ever thought it could.

“Being a Mom is the absolute most important job and title I could ever have. I have loved and enjoyed every single stage of my children’s lives. I loved teaching them to be responsible and hard-working people,” Maureen Carr wrote. “I am so proud of each and every one of them. We are together often and so enjoy being with one another.”

Mary Fran Farrell, Maureen’s younger sister, said Maureen is very deserving of the award. She said she believes Maureen is a good example of what a mom should be.

“Her parenting is about what’s best for her kids, and she always wants them to be successful but yet wants to make sure that they’re enjoying their life,” Farrell said.  “It’s about success that makes them feel good about the person that they are and that they are enjoying what they do. I think that’s an important thing in a parent.”

What made this award so special, though, is the love for the University that this family has shared for 40 years.

Although Maura will be the last family member — at least for now — to graduate from the University, both of her parents, her four siblings and many of her extended family members have attended the University.

Maureen comes from a family of eight children. Five of her siblings also attended the University and several married University alumni.

Maura said the University is a part of her family’s identity and has become a way for them to connect.

“Our family Christmas parties are just people passing Illini sweaters around, honestly. It’s just something that connects us all. It’s helped us to grow and find careers and things we love and it’s led us to new passions and new friends,” Maura Carr said. “But it’s something that we can all go home and talk about together and we’ve gotten to experience as an extended family.”

Moms Weekend has always been a special time for the Carr family. When Maureen visits the University, she and her children visit each other’s favorite spots on campus and enjoy Illinois traditions like going to KAM’S and laying out on the quad.

Maureen Carr believes that events like Moms Weekend are important because they can strengthen the connection mothers have with their children.

“Mothers love their children so much, no matter if they are small or older. Acknowledging a job well done can only encourage more good things,” Maureen Carr wrote. “I have always loved Moms weekend not only for me and my children but all Moms. It is so wonderful have a special time to come to campus and experience what our children do and experience on campus.”

Maureen Carr wrote that after being an Illini for so long, receiving this award has been a true honor.

“I have been an Illini for over 40 years. This award is just the icing on the cake after all my years being an Illini. I will hold it dear always,” she wrote.

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