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updated: 6/7/2013 9:17 AM

2012-2013 Fox Valley Academic Team

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  • Emily Alessio

    Emily Alessio

  • Anuj Chokshi

    Anuj Chokshi

  • Victoria Cooley

    Victoria Cooley

  • Andrew Koltun

    Andrew Koltun

  • Kevin Peterson

    Kevin Peterson

  • Miranda Peterson

    Miranda Peterson

  • Jacob Palecki

    Jacob Palecki

  • Samayra Siddiqui

    Samayra Siddiqui

  • Nathan Suek

    Nathan Suek

  • Arjun Tambe

    Arjun Tambe


Emily Alessio

Jacobs High School

Hometown: Algonquin

Parents: David and Laura Alessio

Sponsor: Michael Bregy, superintendent

Class rank: First out of 515

GPA: 5.96

Test scores: ACT: 33

Planned major: Electrical engineering

Awards, honors: AP Scholar, National Merit commended scholar, Illinois State Scholar, Presidential Scholar

Personal statement: "I have tried to gain experiences, knowledge and skills I will require to attend college and pursue a career that will allow me to help meet society's future needs and play a part in solving its problems. I plan to study engineering, a field that helps shape the world in so many ways and has the potential to improve people's lives and the planet."

Sponsor's endorsement: "The nominee leads by example, whether it is with her peers or volunteering for events such as Buddy Baseball or Special Olympics. She continually models what it means to be a lifelong learner, a person of good character and a considerate individual."

Anuj Chokshi

Elgin High School

School: Elgin High School

Hometown: Bartlett

Parents: Kalpesh and Rupal Chokshi

Sponsor: Cristina Cabrera

Class rank: First out of 510

GPA: 5.0 based on 4.0

Test scores: ACT: 35

Planned major: Biological sciences

Awards, honors: Valedictorian, AP Scholar with Distinction, 14 Health Occupations Students of America state medals

Personal statement: "My dad had a heart attack four years ago, and I saw firsthand how much value doctors and the medical team have, especially when it comes to helping others by alleviating suffering. I admire those people and strive to become like them, to be there for patients and lend a hand to others in their time of need."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Anuj has been a part of the Gifted and Talented programs of the school district since elementary school, and has proven his academic prowess in these rigorous curricula. He has consistently challenged himself to take the most demanding courses offered in the district."

Victoria Cooley

Geneva High School

Hometown: Geneva

Parents: Lance and Nancy Cooley

Sponsor: Cathy M. Pool, counselor

Class rank: First out of 4.80

GPA: 4.8 on a 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 2280

Planned major: Chemistry

Awards, honors: Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society, German National Honor Society, English Honor Society, Illinois State Scholar, National Merit finalist, AP Scholar

Personal statement: "When I ask myself what my life goal is, the best answer isn't quantitative -- it isn't making a certain paycheck, for example -- and it isn't static -- some achievement that I will one day reach. I seek to be the kind of person who constantly improves her knowledge of the world around her and uses that to improve her surroundings."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Intelligent, articulate and compassionate, Victoria Cooley will undoubtedly experience great success after high school. She aspires to be a manuscript conservationist, a career that will allow her to incorporate her passions in the fields of chemistry, language studies and history."

Andrew Joseph Koltun

Crystal Lake South High School

Hometown: Crystal Lake

Parents: Philip and Patricia Koltun

Sponsor: Kyle McCaughn, counselor

Class rank: Second out of 457

GPA: 4.560, traditional 4.0

Test scores: ACT 35; SAT 2280

Planned major: Environmental public health

Awards, honors: National Merit Scholar, AP Scholar, Illinois State Scholar, National Merit finalist, president of National Honor Society

Personal statement: "I wanted a life that made me encounter people and the world in a profound, emotional way, and a life that would allow me to improve upon that world. Eventually, I decided to pursue a career in public health, which combines cutting-edge science and community outreach."

Sponsor's endorsement: "(Andrew) has been a true joy to work with over the past four years. It is a true breath of fresh air to work with a quality student and person such as this. (He) has proved over the past four years that (he) has the character that others gravitate toward and want to emulate."

Kevin Peterson

South Elgin High School

Hometown: Bartlett

Parents: Susan Kerr and Bruce Peterson

Sponsor: Matt Sheahan, counselor

Class rank: Third out of 631

GPA: 4.747 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 33

Planned major: International studies, political science

Awards, honors: High Honor Roll, Elgin Rotary Club Straight A Award (four years), AP Scholar, Illinois State Scholar

Personal statement: "Real life is going to present challenges that are going to force me to deal with unfamiliar variables. I realize this, but I also realize that I am able to deal with these challenges. I thrived in high school when I knew very few people to begin with. I have a drive to succeed in unfamiliar surroundings, and that drive is what I will use to thrive in the real world."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Kevin came to South Elgin High School after being home schooled for his entire primary education. Even for very bright students this culture shock could be unnerving and overwhelming. While Kevin did feel the pressure of this transition ... he did not let his discomfort impact his achievement."

Miranda Peterson

Huntley High School

Hometown: Huntley

Parents: Seth and Cassandra Peterson

Sponsor: Pat Olson-McGee, counselor

Class rank: First out of 526

GPA: 4.554 on a 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35

Planned major: Aerospace engineering

Awards, honors: Valedictorian, IHSA All-State Academic Team Nominee, Illinois State Scholar, AP Scholar, National Merit Commended Scholar

Personal statement: "I never specifically strived for top grades or test scores. Rather, I looked at my goal, knowing what it would take to get there, and worked hard and tried my best every single day. As a result of my determination, I have enjoyed some academic achievements, which though I appreciate, came as a result of my steps toward my goal."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Let me put this bluntly: razor sharp smart, stellar core values, unending work ethic and a global approach to caring for others."

Jacob Palecki

Huntley High School

Hometown: Huntley

Parents: Paul and Susan Palecki

Sponsor: Pat Olson-McGee, counselor

Class rank: Fourth out of 526

GPA: 4.48 on a 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 2290

Planned major: Electrical and computer engineering

Awards, honors: National Merit Scholarship Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, Illinois State Scholar

Personal statement: "I did so well in my math classes that I was able to take AP Calculus BC, the most advanced math class offered by my high school, my sophomore year, and I have since been taking math courses from the Netmath program at the University of Illinois."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Jacob Palecki. Whew. Scary smart and the most responsible, unassuming student I have ever worked with. Jacob's peers mention his name with awe: 'a math genius.' When talking about ACT results they will say, 'What did Jacob get?' 'What math is Palecki taking this year?'"

Samayra Siddiqui

Elgin Academy

Hometown: Elgin

Parents: Erika and Fariq Siddiqui

Sponsor: Sharon Williams, counselor

Class rank: Not given

GPA: 4.07 on a traditional 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 32

Planned major: Neuroscience

Awards, honors: Greg Eastman Young Leaders Award, Illinois State Scholar, AP Scholar, Quill & Scroll Award

Personal statement: "At this time, I plan to become a physician. Having become aware of the health needs throughout the world, I hope to use my skills on an international scale. My goal is to live a life that exemplifies the words of Shirley Chisholm: 'Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this Earth.'"

Sponsor's endorsement: "While she has consistently earned strong grades, what has changed considerably over the years is her approach to learning. She began high school as the typical high achiever who sought to memorize information. She has since developed into a consummate intellectual. She looks for connections, explores tangents, and seeks to create new knowledge for herself and her classmates."

Nathan Suek

Illinois Math and Science Academy

Hometown: Oak Brook

Parents: Ringo and Monica Suek

Sponsor: Julia Husen

Class rank: Not given

GPA: Not given

Test scores: ACT: 35

Planned major: Molecular biology

Awards, honors: National Merit finalist and scholarship winner, AP Scholar, Illinois State Scholar

Personal statement: "The funny thing is, I did not start out determined to go into medicine. When I grew up, my parents always asked me "What do you want to be?" Trying to break the confines of Asian stereotypes, I actually tried to deviate as far as possible from medicine, switching career choices several times before entering high school. I first wanted to be a teacher, then a pianist, then a swimmer. However, my vision for the future began to solidify as I entered high school. Gradually, I began to consider a career in medicine more seriously."

Sponsor's endorsement: "A leader, a scholar, an athlete and a musician -- Nathan stands out as a student with vision and drive. He decides what he wants to accomplish and does it."

Arjun Tambe

Illinois Math and Science Academy

Hometown: Crystal Lake

Parents: Prakash and Dinaz Tambe

Sponsor: Julia Husen

Class rank: Not given

GPA: Not given

Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 2250

College: University of Michigan

Planned major: Biology

Awards, honors: National Merit Finalist, Academic Awards/Honors, Eagle Scout, first place in Fox Valley Tournament of Scholastic Bowl

Personal statement: "Instead of selfishly devoting my efforts toward my own accomplishments, my goal is to improve the quality of life around me -- to use my education and leadership to make a difference to others, not only to myself. Success is not about how much money we make or how many square feet our houses are, but rather how many lives we can improve by helping others."

Sponsor's endorsement: "I would describe Arjun as a passionate learner. Success is not the primary motivating factor in Arjun's life -- he simply loves to learn. Helping others is important to Arjun -- he loves to serve. Residential life is fun for Arjun -- he values friendship."

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