Kendall Ciesemier, Wheaton North High School
Parents: Mike and Ellery Ciesemier
Sponsor: Carol McCallum, counselor
Community service: Founded Kids Caring 4 Kids; Children's Memorial Hospital Kids Advisory Board member; Founder of the Dance 4 Lifesong campaign; Participates in FLOCK, a peer mentoring group for special-needs students
Personal statement: "I have experienced, first hand, the power of a story to inspire, educate, motivate and change lives. I desire to create stories that evoke this kind of change in others. In learning how to be an effective communicator, I can empower my audience with knowledge to go out into the world and address our greatest societal struggles."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She is warm, caring and compassionate. Her qualities exemplify those that are shown to her from others. She has been active in student council, an officer, a leader for FLOCK and Adaptive PE, helping students with special needs, and serving on many committees. She is one of the most successful young women I know and she has not yet stepped foot on a campus to begin her collegiate experience.
Rachael Holland, Waubonsie Valley High School
Parents: Stephanie Holland
Sponsor: Andrew Krueger, Spanish teacher
Community service: President of the school's Key Club; participates in regular volunteer events; Peer Ministry Team member; Girl Scouts, served as a program leader at a summer camp; tutoring and community service projects through Spanish Honor Society
Personal statement: "For some people, volunteering is an obligation, a necessity for a college application. Fortunately, I have found quite the opposite. Even though I expect to assist people in need, they usually help me more. With each new event, I learn something new, and my eyes are opened to see a new aspect of life."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I had the distinct pleasure of having Rachael as an active leader of Waubonsie Valley Key Club since I have been a sponsor. Rachael was more than the ideal student member, as she always demonstrated outstanding organizational and leadership skills. She is currently the most active member of the executive board and has earned my deepest respect."
Kirsten Keller, Downers Grove North High School
Hometown: Downers Grove
Parents: Ken and Sue Keller
Sponsor: Ken Sorensen, assistant principal
Community service: Volunteered time to promote and raise money for the Invisible Children organization; "Haiti's Lunchbox" planning committee member; organized a school supply drive for needy schools in New Orleans; West Suburban Humane Society volunteer; Hinsdale Community Service volunteer
Personal statement: "I would like other teens to know and realize that starting and organizing events isn't something only initiated by adults; You can start anything you want to. We are the future, and we can and need to start taking action as soon as possible in order to hope for a better future. It may be intimidating and stressful to plan everything on your own and make that first call about securing a venue for your event, but it is doable. And many times, student-initiated projects have a bigger effect and impact on others."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I have had the pleasure of working with her for three years as she has led several school initiatives to help those in need: locally, nationally and globally. She has a genuine desire and motivation to help others."
Tahseen Khaleel, College Preparatory School of America
Hometown: Oak Brook
Parents: Mohemad Rizwan Khaleel and Shahida Tanveer
Sponsor: Nafe M. Hussein, counselor
Community service: Worked as a volunteer surveyor for the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Helping Hands USA volunteer; Feedy for the Needy; DuPage County Election Commission's First Judge Program; chamber judge for Illinois Congressional Debate Association student debate tournaments
Personal statement: "I want to always be able to lend a hand to those in need of assistance in whatever way I can, whether it be by taking part in a medicine and blanket drive or working at a soup kitchen. I want to continue doing humanitarian work by taking up a profession in which I am always giving back to society."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She is an exceptional student, with great character and excellent leadership qualities. She is really a tremendous role model."
Joey Kim, Neuqua Valley High School
Parents: Taek Kyum Kim and Young Kim
Sponsor: Chad Allen, counselor
Community service: Founded, produced, directed and performed in a benefit recital in 2009 and 2010; provided free violin lessons to young musicians; South Dakota mission trip; DuPage Children's Museum
Personal statement: "To start out with a small flicker of my own dream and to let it shine brilliantly enough to convince others to follow were perhaps the most challenging tasks I had ever experienced in my life. There were no textbooks, no formulas, no step-by-step recipe books to cook up a dream into a reality. Instead, I had to rely on my vision of planning, leadership and people skills, and a firm faith that what I believed in was a worthy cause."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Out of our entire senior class in our school, he is the unique student that takes on the initiative to make our school a better place. He seems to be involved in all aspects at our school and when he gets involved, he gives everything he has and represents our school well. This is the student that staff and administration often call up when help is needed."
Elizabeth S. Lee, Lake Park High School
Parents: Sangmin Gilbert and Larry Gilbert
Sponsor: Christine Ward, counselor
Community service: Volunteers with World Relief DuPage as a ESL tutor for refugees; initiated a dental awareness program for refugee children and their parents through World Relief and for students at her high school; wrote and published two children's dental books; created a website for children's dental awareness (tinytoothbrush.com)
Personal statement: "Helping the community has always been a very crucial issue for me. Since my freshman year, I have been volunteering through World Relief and tutoring an Iranian refugee family. I have immigrated twice in my life already, once from South Korea to Germany and then from Germany to the United States. I understand fully how hard it can be to be integrated into a society as a stranger."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I'm really in awe of this young (woman) because she is so humble and not aware at all of what a huge impact she has on those around her. She appreciates anything and everything you do and doesn't take anything for granted."
Michelle Quinn, St. Francis High School
Parents: Monica and William J. Quinn
Sponsor: Trudy Rigney, director of guidance
Community service: Week of Hope mission trips; tutoring and visiting underprivileged children; Hope for Haiti fundraising; religious education teaching assistant; Student Ministry Team
Personal statement: "'We can do no great things, only small things with great love.' This quote by Mother Teresa sums up my life goals. She says that her accomplishments are nothing great compared to the love she feels for others. Her famous quote has become my mantra, words I live by. I look at my accomplishments not as great acts that change the world, but as great acts of love that change someone's world. My experience in community service and leadership have taught me many things, they have shaped my life goal into a very simple concept, love the people in front of you and never miss the opportunity to help someone in need."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She leads by example both inside and outside the classroom. No job is too small for her -- she will pitch in without seeking recognition for herself."
Brittany Ruhland, Naperville Central High
Parents: Sue and Jim Ruhland
Sponsor: Matt Gresk and Becky Swiontek, sponsors of Rotary Interact Club
Community service: Rotary Interact Service Club; Ready, Set, Ride volunteer; Safety Town instructor; Naper Boulevard Library summer reading program teen leader; Naper Settlement volunteer
Personal statement: "I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life. I vacillate between biology, business, astrophysics, Spanish and journalism. I don't even know what I'm going to eat for lunch tomorrow. I do know, however, how I'm going to unleash myself on the world, shown by every project I take on. They all require passion. Not just a love of helping people, but real passion; the kind that isn't satisfied by clocking in with tunnel vision and not going above and beyond."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She always has a positive attitude, good sense of humor, and is a very responsible young woman. The Rotary Interact Club motto is 'Service Above Self,' and we believe that she has done an outstanding job embodying the club's motto."
Irving Ruiz, Glenbard West High School
Hometown: Glen Ellyn
Parent: Inocencia Escobar
Sponsor: Kate Culloton, counselor
Community service: Multi-Cultural Achievement Club; Church of the Resurrection youth group leader; Paths group founder; volunteer translator; tutors neighborhood children
Personal statement: "My next step in life is to go to college and study sociology and psychology. Since I had such a difficult childhood, I want to give back to kids with similar situations as mine growing up. I have numerous people to thank for where I am now, but the most important person would have to be my mother. She never gave up on me when other people did. She reminds me every day: 'Keep working hard, and never let anyone tell you that you can't make it because you're almost there.' These words are with me always."
Sponsor's endorsement: "His relationship with his mother is an incredible testament to love and service as well. He sees the sacrifices of his mother as a motivator for all he will do in his own life. Perhaps this is the single aspect that sets him apart from other leaders within our school."
Caroline Sterr, Downers Grove North High
Hometown: Downers Grove
Parents: Martin and Chris Sterr
Sponsor: Ken Sorensen, assistant principal
Community service: Initiated and organized an effort to raise more than $20,000 to pack 108,000 meals sent to Haiti; Community Christian Church small group leader and camp counselor; helped plan and performed in an Invisible Children benefit concert
Personal statement: "I believe that the only important things a person can do are the things that improve the lives of others. It is my greatest dream to continue to do just that; to change lives even in the smallest ways. I dream of yearly events similar to Haiti's Lunchbox, because I have already seen the way it transforms a community. ... I dream of using my life to change lives and hopefully the world."
Sponsor's endorsement: "As a result of her leadership abilities and positive rapport with her peers, hundreds of students, staff and community members were offered service opportunities that they wouldn't have had without her initiative, effort and leadership. Her global concern and heart for volunteering is truly admirable."