Kate Berens, Timothy Christian High School
Hometown: Glen Ellyn
Parents: Bruce and Michelle Berens
Sponsor: Frances David, school counselor
Community service: DuPage Convalescent Center volunteer; Willowbrook Wildlife Center volunteer; Canticle Place volunteer; El Salvador mission trip
Personal statement: "I take advantage of as many volunteer opportunities as I can. Through volunteering I have been blessed with a knowledge of world needs, an understanding of who I am, personal fulfillment, and the joy of knowing that I could make someone's day better. Whether it's a smile, a kind word, or a hug, I know that I have given a gift and there is nothing more beautiful or special to me than that."
Sponsor's endorsement: "One cannot even list all of her volunteer activities since she has volunteered over 1,000 hours in the past three years. She has gone to Iowa to help flood victims, El Salvador to dig a well, and Washington, D.C., to care for at-risk children. While at home she has served in her church, at an HIV/AIDS residence, and at a convalescent center."
William B. Dawes, Montini Catholic High School
Parents: Barbara and William Dawes
Sponsor: Maryann O'Neill, principal
Community service: Hines VA Fisher House, Eagle Scout service project; Our Lady of Peace Church Food Pantry volunteer; Woodridge Public Library volunteer; Boy Scouts of America
Personal statement: "I look forward to continuing to demonstrate leadership and service in my life. As an Eagle Scout I have a certain standard to uphold. I also have a duty to uphold the standards of being an Eagle Scout. I also plan to continue my service to others. I plan to continue to be involved with as many service projects as possible, not only through my troop, but also through my school, my church and the community. I will volunteer my time and talents for the good of others."
Sponsor's endorsement: "He is one of the most hard working, selfless individuals I have ever met. He is always looking to pitch in, working for those less fortunate, bringing injustices and causes to our attention and truly making a difference."
Adam Graham Erickson, Wheaton Warrenville South
Parents: Randall and Laurel Erickson
Sponsor: Phillip Culcasi, AP Chemistry teacher, science department chairman
Community service: American Cancer Society, Illinois Division Relay For Life Leadership Summit; Relay For Life, coordinated event at Wheaton Warrenville South; Student Council Executive Board; Key Club
Personal statement: "Whether moving boxes for an elementary school function or fighting pro-bono law cases for those that don't have the means, volunteers are prized not for the abilities they have, but for their willingness to give. In our continually ego-driven society, it's important to remember that the greatest gift we can give or receive is a helping hand."
Sponsor's endorsement: "He has already done a great deal of work for the American Cancer Society (ACS) through the Relay For Life program. He coordinates the event at our high school. He is so successful in this position that he mentors students at other high schools who want to build a similar program."
Sarah Huddleston, St. Francis High School
Hometown: Glen Ellyn
Parents: Karen Coley
Sponsor: Trudy Rigney, guidance
Community service: Created, planned, and carried out Building Leadership and Skills Together, a six-week summer enrichment program for 7- to 10-year-old students; Peacebuilders Initiative; after-school tutoring coordinator; participated in three summer mission trips; Student Ministry Team
Personal statement: "I believe that my service accomplishments throughout high school not only relate to my life goals but also give me the motivation to achieve my goals. Most of the service I have done has been centered on children and education. I feel that this central theme is appropriate because I want to be a teacher. I have seen how education can change lives."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I do not know how she juggles all of her many responsibilities, but she always gets things done and does them superbly. In addition, she never gives the aura of being burdened. On the contrary, she brings her cheerful attitude and enthusiasm to every endeavor."
Kelsey McDonnell, Neuqua Valley High School
Parents: Patrick McDonnell, and the late Laura McDonnell
Sponsor: Shawna Stanley, counselor
Community service: Organized, directed and performed in two benefit concerts, including a 2011 show that raised more than $36,000 for the American Brain Tumor Association and the Northwestern Memorial Foundation
Personal statement: "Throughout her illness, my mom showed me a whole new meaning to life, and continued to motivate my brothers and me with our academics and activities. ... She had given me the world, and she was slowly being taken away from me. Just three weeks after the show, she fell into a coma and passed away. However, an hour after she passed, I was suddenly calmed and reminded by my guardian angel that she was not really gone, as she would forever be in my heart."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I witnessed Kelsey maximize the time she had left with her mother ... The strength, dignity, grace, and compassion that she showed during this time were remarkable. Kelsey, like her mother, is a doer."
Emily Aysha Rohman, Glenbard West High School
Hometown: Glendale Heights
Parents: Mina Yoeu and Ly Rohman
Sponsor: Gilda Ross, counselor
Community service: Students for Students; Operation One World, tutors and helps English as a learning language students; Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, physical therapist assistant volunteer and pediatrics assistant volunteer; The Global Dream Project founder; Sunday school volunteer
Personal statement: "I hope to someday raise enough money to build a library for the impoverished children in Cambodia, someone I could have been. Skin tone, ethnic background, religious affiliation, and location of residence should not dictate the quality of an education."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She craves responsibility and never disappoints. I don't know how she manages to do so much -- except that her sincerity, energy (she is electric!), happiness, and genuine love for others is truly overwhelming. She seeks out leadership opportunities; she puts in the hard work; she energies others with her excitement, dedication, and can-do spirit."
Alex Senak, Benet Academy
Hometown: Glen Ellyn
Parents: Mark and Laura Senak
Sponsor: Stephen Marth, principal
Community service: Misericordia volunteer; Campus Ministries Assistance Team student board leader; National Honor Society administrative liaison; Senior Leadership Core Team
Personal statement: "Out of the numerous service projects I've worked on, none makes me feel like I am having a more direct positive impact on the lives of people who need it most than working at Misericordia. I know the work I do there with the developmentally disabled has the greatest positive impact on those who are the most in need. I know this to be true because I can see it in their smiles and I can feel it in their laughter."
Sponsor's endorsement: "He has learned well already that great leaders go out of their way to meet the needs of others, especially those who are most needy and vulnerable. And he recognizes that leadership also entails setting a good example for fellow participants when it comes to contributing to worthy causes."
Venkata Surapaneni, Neuqua Valley High School
Parents: Haribabu and Sreelatha Surapaneni
Sponsor: Daniel J. Stadt, counselor
Community service: Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital volunteer; science tutor; senior adviser program at school; Model United Nations president; organized a diabetes walk at school
Personal statement: "While a leader is put up on a pedestal they need to know the needs and wants of their peers. They need to have compassion. Compassion is what connects us to our fellow people. Compassion is what truly inspires others. Compassion is an exclusively human quality."
Sponsor's endorsement: "He spends his extra time outside of school volunteering at one of our local hospitals, where he has so impressed them that they have him training the new volunteers. He even spends his lunch period volunteering to tutor other students in our Science Resource Center. He does many 'little things' that might not show up on a resume, but that contribute to the school atmosphere."
Tara M. Tsaparis, Wheaton North High School
Parents: George and Karen Tsaparis
Sponsor: Wendy Biggs, guidance counselor
Community service: Girl Scouts of America, Gold Award Service Project; Girls' World Forum planning team; Cosley Zoo volunteer; American Cancer Society Relay For Life; vacation Bible school team leader
Personal statement: "Over my 12-year Girl Scout career, I have come to realize that the Girl Scouts of America (GSA) is more than just a service organization. It also places a high value on developing leadership skills in young women. At a young age, I began doing service projects with Scouting friends and, after advancing through the ranks, I completed my Gold Award Project -- equivalent to the Boy Scout Eagle Project. It was exciting to know that at 16 years old, I could change the world around me."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Tara has a firmly integrated sense of self that allows her to be outwardly focused toward others. She has a true desire to serve others and make positive change locally, nationally, and globally."
Christine Young, Lisle Senior High School
Parents: Karen and Stuart Young
Sponsor: Kendra Meyers, school counselor
Community service: Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center, summer camp counselor; Lisle Teens with Character, elected teen leader; Operation Snowball; Student Ambassadors
Personal statement: "Every little girl dreams about being a ballerina, an astronaut, or the president; and I was not an exception. But I realized as time went by that what I wanted for my life was much simpler than that. I didn't need a fancy title or overwhelming income, because the internal satisfaction that is a direct result of helping others is worth so much more. I have a burning desire to impact others' lives."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She is trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, caring, and shows superb citizenship. The leader gave back to the community while volunteering for events like Relay For Life, Sleep Out Saturday, Feed My Starving Children, various runs and walks, and the West Suburban Food Pantry to name a few."