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posted: 6/7/2013 5:00 AM

2012-2013 Northwest Suburban Academic Team

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  • Benjamin Brissette

    Benjamin Brissette

  • Darby Alise Dammeier

    Darby Alise Dammeier

  • Priyanka Kanal

    Priyanka Kanal

  • Sarah Merchant

    Sarah Merchant

  • Colleen O'Mahoney

    Colleen O'Mahoney

  • Thomas Palcheck

    Thomas Palcheck

  • Krush Patel

    Krush Patel

  • Maximilian Rohde

    Maximilian Rohde

  • Megan Rullo

    Megan Rullo

  • Vivek Shah

    Vivek Shah


Benjamin Brissette

Maine West High School

Hometown: Des Plaines

Parents: Constance Weil and Richard Brissette

Sponsor: Principal Audrey J. Haugan

Class rank: School does not rank

GPA: 4.6727 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 2400

Planned major: Biochemistry

Awards, honors: National Merit Scholar Finalist; National AP Scholar; Maine 207's Best: Academic Achievement

Personal statement: "I want to leave the world a better place than it was when I came into it. I don't know exactly how I'm going to do that, or what it entails, so I've been striving to make an impact on the world in every way possible."

Sponsor's endorsement: He made a perfect score on the ACT not just once, but twice! He has taken the most rigorous course load at our high school, plus Spanish for Spanish Speakers, Fashion 1, Chamber Choir, AP US Government, AP Chemistry, AP English Literature, and is a PE Senior Leader. He has a beautiful voice, is a talented actor and a talented athlete. He is a leader in his Scout troop, does many extracurricular activities, and is an amazing young man."

Darby Alise Dammeier

Wheeling High School

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Parents: Drew and Linda Dammeier

Sponsor: Richard Watson, counselor

Class rank: School does not rank

GPA: 5.67 on a weighted 5.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 34

Planned major: Biochemistry, molecular biology

Awards, honors: American Legion Scholarship Award; Spanish National Honor Society; Leader in the number of tutoring hours

Personal statement: "The student I tutored struggled in the beginning, barely passing. Later, her teacher came to speak with me. Not only did she have an A, she also frequently raised her hand. When I passed her in the hall she asked, 'Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?' 'Independence Hall,' I said. She laughed, and shouted over her shoulder, 'No, at the bottom!' My favorite joke."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Somehow she has balanced an incredible number of activities over four years and still maintains a perfect 'A' average. One of her greatest qualities is her positive outlook on life and finding the best in others rather than looking for faults."

Priyanka Kanal

William Fremd High School

Hometown: Palatine

Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Raj Kanal

Sponsor: Brigid Tileston, former English Department chairwoman

Class rank: School does not rank

GPA: 5.01 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 34

Planned major: English/journalism and psychology

Awards, honors: National Merit Commended Scholar; AP Scholar with Distinction; Published in "American High School Poets Topical Anthology"

Personal statement: "My passion, ethics and drive have been cultivated by my many high school experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. I am inspired by the idea that in the future my own research and writing as a medical correspondent could impact people's lives all around the world by informing them about medical practices."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Other students recognize that when Priyanka shares an insight, it is coming from a thoughtful and respected source. Students and staff alike know that her love for literature, writing, and the world around her is unique, even in a very competitive school."

Sarah Merchant

Barrington High School

Hometown: South Barrington

Parents: Hasan and Sheri Merchant

Sponsor: Jack Bowyer, AP Senior English teacher

Class rank: School does not rank

GPA: 4.760 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: SAT: 2250

Planned major: Biochemistry/global health double major; pre-med track

Awards, honors: AP National Scholar; Spanish Honor Society; American Legion Award

Personal statement: "My experiences have led me to conclude that this desire for purpose is fulfilled when I invest energy outside of myself, when I pursue academic discovery, and when I establish myself as an individual with the capacity to remedy my community. I hope to study medicine and global health, to influence the lives of my patients while also protecting developing populations from infectious diseases."

Sponsor's endorsement: "With Sarah, you have one of the very best, a rare gem of a student whose potential is extraordinary, who combines scholarship, maturity, and leadership with charisma, unfailing ethics, and a healthy sense of humor."

Colleen O'Mahoney

Palatine High School

Hometown: Palatine

Parents: Brian and Suzanne O'Mahoney

Sponsor: Michelle Calisch, counselor

Class rank: First out of 690

GPA: 4.0 on a traditional 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 34

Planned major: Double major in mathematics and secondary education; with minor in physics

Awards, honors: National Honor Society; Illinois State Scholar; AP Scholar

Personal statement: "I want nothing more in this life than to be a teacher ... Regardless of what subject I decide to teach, my accomplishments thus far in life have proved to me that I want to help future generations develop their own passions. Just as I have been aided on my path I want to help individuals like myself dream, explore, grow, and reach their goals."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Colleen is a uniquely talented student who excels in and out of the classroom. Her intelligence and work ethic has allowed her to succeed, but it is her desire to help that really sets her apart. Her maturity and character only add to her overall impressive nature."

Thomas Palcheck

Schaumburg High School

Hometown: Schaumburg

Parents: Julie and Tom Palcheck

Sponsor: Mary Lopez, AP history teacher

Class rank: Tied, first out of 625

GPA: 5.032 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35

Planned major: Mechanical engineering with an environmental minor or electrical engineering double major

Awards, honors: AP Scholar with Distinction; Illinois State Scholar; High School Academic Award (top 25)

Personal statement: "Academia isn't the only way that I have worked to plan ahead for my future. Through my involvement in Scouts, my church, the school wrestling team and other activities, I feel that I have picked up on many skills that others are unable to glean just in school."

Sponsor's endorsement: "His strong academic skills and impressive work ethic were clear, and his success was truly impressive. Even more impressive were the lengths to which he went to ensure the success of others. He was the first to volunteer to tutor in the science tutoring center, and other students would deliberately attend when he was there."

Krush Patel

Hoffman Estates High School

Hometown: Schaumburg

Parents: Surendra and Heena Patel

Sponsor: Suzanne Fetherling, science teacher

Class rank: School does not rank

GPA: 5.143 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 34

Planned major: Chemistry or biology

Awards, honors: University of Chicago Book Award; Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica; Future City Competition -- Best Safety Design

Personal statement: "More than anything, it is my love for science that has consumed me and driven me to study medicine. 15-page lab reports for AP Biology are rewarding journeys; weekly tests in AP Chemistry are something I look forward to. Learning about the world around me through scientific facts has become an adventure."

Sponsor's endorsement: "He sets himself apart with a passion for learning and a curiosity that can be kindled by many different facets of science. He finds excitement in the process of problem solving and finding new ways to cultivate his interests. His classmates are amazed by his talents and attracted to his humility."

Maximilian Rohde

Prospect High School

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Parents: Matthias and Jenny Rohde

Sponsor: Lynn Thornton, counselor

Class rank: School does not rank

GPA: 5.73 on a weighted 5.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35

Planned major: Physics

Awards, honors: AP Scholar with Distinction; National Merit Scholar Commended Student; National Honor Society member

Personal statement: "Physics fascinates me because it encompasses subjects as abstract as string theory or as concrete as structural engineering. Looking back on my accomplishments in high school, I see that they have aided me in both the abstract and concrete areas of my life. Some accomplishments have taught me useful skills that I will be able to use later on in a career, while others have aided me by making me a more well-rounded person."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Maximilian is one individual who has learned to work through adversity, face fears head-on, and come away stronger and more competent for it."

Megan Rullo

Buffalo Grove High School

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Parents: Frank and Mary Rullo

Sponsor: Maxine K. Levy, counselor

Class rank: School does not rank

GPA: 5.76 on a weighted 5.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 34

Planned major: Cell and molecular biology, pre-dentistry; double major or minor in music

Awards, honors: AP Scholar with Distinction; National Merit Commended Scholar; IMEA All-State Honors Band, January 2013

Personal statement: "Ever since sixth grade when I had braces, I have been determined to become an orthodontist. Making teeth more orderly appeals to me, along with running an office and having different patients pass through every day."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Nothing she did in high school was 'to get into college.' What she did was to learn about herself as she prepared herself for the challenges of her future. Megan possesses a voracious appetite in the pursuit of knowledge in multiple areas. Her desire: to be a well-rounded individual who understands the world in which she lives."

Vivek Shah

John Hersey High School

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Parents: Kamlesh and Varsha Shah

Sponsor: Jackie Ballarini, math teacher

Class rank: Second out of 469

GPA: 5.80 on a weighted 5.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 2350

Planned major: Biomedical engineering; medical school for oncology

Awards: Fifth place, 2013 Illinois State Debate Tournament and All State Team; Math Team, sixth place Calculator Team at State Tournament 2010; National Geography Challenge Finalist 2009

Personal statement: "High school has laid the foundations for achieving my lifelong goals with poise, awareness, and humility. It is these intangible traits that will help me be a biomedical engineer. However, it is my passion for knowledge that will elevate me to being a biomedical innovator."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Last fall, a student backed out of a Math Team competition the day before. The topic was Number Theory with a focus on Diophantine Equations, a college level course ... and we needed someone who could read and understand the text in one night. Vivek accepted this challenge -- and took third place at the meet.

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