Katya Bezugla, Illinois Math and Science Academy
Parents: Yan Bezugliy & Svitlana Bezugla
Sponsor: Suzanne Speulda
Community service: Counselor/teacher at The Innovation Hub, Robotics team captain, peer tutor, Hesed House volunteer
Personal statement: "My favorite thing is to make someone passionate about a field they would have never considered before. Seeing their eyes widen in wonder as an entire world of knowledge unlocks before them fulfills me. This might not be something you expect from your typical computer science major, often stereotyped as sitting in a dark room, isolated while clacking away at their keyboard, but it is because of my love for computer science, and other STEM fields, that I want to share my knowledge and passion with others."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Katya has many passions that range from computer science, to art and outer space. Consequently, she participates in a wide variety of clubs and organizations. What is remarkable is the amount of attention she is able to devote to each activity. "
AnnaLeah Esp, Rosary High School
Hometown: Sugar Grove
Parents: Douglas and Lynn Esp
Sponsor: Lisa Sustersic, counselor
Community service: Volleyball camp coach; mission trip to Peru; founder of Live Mobile Foundation, which provides money, equipment, therapy, blankets and toys to children in Piura, Peru
Personal statement: "The charity I started, called Live Mobile, formed me into a leader. People began to look to me to find ways to better their community. This gave me a sense of purpose. It also shaped a new family for me because of the people that were contributing to the cause and the bond I had made with the families in Peru."
Sponsor's endorsement: "In her role as the founder of the Live Mobile Foundation benefiting children in Peru who have, for all intents and purposes, been medically neglected, I have found her to be one of the finest students that I have worked with in my career. She thinks on her feet, is articulate, energetic, passionate, and can organize and invigorate a large group of students of all levels to work together to achieve a common goal. As a result, for the past three years, the Live Mobile Foundation has collected tens of thousands of dollars."
Ryan Fletcher, Marmion Academy
Parents: Brad and Kristine Fletcher
Sponsor: Mark Malkowski, Director of Campus Ministry
Community service: Habitat for Humanity 10-day mission trip to Guatemala; Campus Outreach, leading youth and adults in faith and leadership retreats; assisting and leading athletes at five Special Olympics events; organizing and assisting in field days for special-needs students at Hope D. Wall School in Aurora
Personal statement: "For Campus Outreach, I lead retreats that are faith based or leadership based. I will talk about my experiences, my faith and how I use both in my everyday life. I lead small groups consisting of either students or adults and help them feel comfortable with sharing their faith life and life experiences. I believe my involvement has helped others to be comfortable in the retreat and that they can be themselves."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Ryan's leadership has been displayed through his work within Campus Ministry in which he has demonstrated his deep-seated passion for service and willingness to step outside of his comfort zone."
Teagan Jones, Cary-Grove High School
Parents: Dan and Erin Jones
Sponsor: Jim Kelly, dean
Community service: Link Crew, organizing Freshman Orientation; Girls Learn International; student council Letters to Santa, NISRA holiday dance
Personal statement: "While the girl I was tutoring thought she was the only one learning as she studied how to conjugate verbs, she was actually giving me the invisible gift of patience as I watched her struggle over and over again. I came up with activity after activity for her to try: I drew pictures and diagrams, until one time it all clicked. Her expression and joy as it suddenly all made sense was exhilarating. Her newfound knowledge of Spanish verbs was valuable, however, nothing was more valuable than what I had learned. Patience. "
Sponsor's endorsement: "In every aspect of her life, Teagan makes excellent decisions, works hard, achieves her goals and sets an example for others to follow. She is humble, unassuming and open minded. Teagan is one of the most thoughtful, caring and compassionate individuals I have ever met."
Jack Jordan, St. Charles East High School
Hometown: St. Charles
Parents: Maureen Jordan
Sponsor: Jeff Bialeschki, counselor
Community service: Helping Others Protect Each Other (suicide and depression prevention), Peer Leadership, Orange Fever Leader, National Honor Society vice president
Personal statement: "When my dad unexpectedly drowned on a family vacation in August of 2009, a great number of people came to our aid. My family and I would not be in the place we are today had it not been for the help from our family and from members of our community. Because of this, giving back takes on a very personal tone with me. I owe a great deal to our community, and it is my goal to give back as much as possible, both now and in the future."
Sponsor's endorsement: "In addition to Peer Leadership, Jack is one of two boys chosen to be one of the four emcees to host every all-school assembly. … Emceeing multiple school assemblies of more than 2,500 students, some of whom don't want to be there, requires the earned respect and support of the student body, all of which Jack has."
Alec V. Salyards, St. Charles North High School
Hometown: St. Charles
Parents: Vince and Ellen Salyards
Sponsor: Robert Freitag, guidance counselor
Community service: Northern Illinois Food Bank student liaison, Key Club International, Feed My Starving Children, Boy Scouts haunted hike
Personal statement: "In the past two years, I have helped pack over 207,000 pounds of food, in turn providing 173,094 meals to hungry families in local counties. Together, the Northern Illinois Food Bank volunteers fulfill 74 full-time positions, producing an army of workers that wouldn't be possible with the current budget. The end result: more families receive food in not only my own county, but surrounding counties as well."
Sponsor's endorsement: "For two years Alec has been involved in Peer Leadership. This program pairs an incoming freshman with an upper classman. These pairs eat lunch together and conduct meetings that develop student leadership and group dynamics while addressing topics ranging from personal issues and academics to extracurricular involvement."
Caitlin Sharma, Elgin Academy
Parents: Dianne and Shashi Sharma
Sponsor: Doug Sept, director of Upper School
Community service: National Honor Society, PADS volunteer, Student Ambassadors, Soup Kitchen volunteer, Big Brothers Big Sisters
Personal statement: "As a student fellow for Raja Krishnamoorthi for Congress, I learned the importance of a different kind of community service. During this past election year, I met so many constituents who had not realized the importance of their vote. Whether I got a door slammed in my face, a dial tone immediately after I greeted the person, or an earful of swears and insults, I never lost hope that somehow the work I was doing would make a difference."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Another co-curricular endeavor through which Caitlin has demonstrated tremendous initiative in is our school's student newspaper. This fall Caitlin and a close friend recently took it upon themselves to reboot the newspaper as co-editors-in-chief by developing a new publication format and implementing a more organized structure of delegation and deadlines."
Vongai Tizora, Huntley High School
Parents: Ralph and Elizabeth Tizora
Sponsor: Rebecca Davison, student council adviser
Community service: Student council, Habitat for Humanity, volleyball tournament for UNICEF, Huntley Historical Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters
Personal statement: "In addition to serving my school, I serve more than 20 other schools through the North Central District of Student Councils (NCD). As Convention Secretary, I am in charge of planning a Spring Convention with a budget of $15,000 for high school students in student council. This convention is designed to teach these students the importance of participating and taking leadership roles in their school activities."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Vongai exudes so many great personal traits, such as having a positive outlook on life, being an extremely hard worker, and she has a great sense of humor that is infectious to those around her. Other students flock to her at school because she is such a genuine and pure person. She can always be counted on to provide kind, motivational and/or supportive words for others."
Ashley Treiber, St. Edward High School
Hometown: Sleepy Hollow
Parents: Nancy and Richard Treiber
Sponsor: AnnMarie Dufelmeier, English department chairwoman
Community service: Rotary Interact Club, National Honor Society president, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Bartlett Little League Challenger volunteer
Personal statement: "I believe volunteering is the reason why I am such a strong leader. Volunteering has given me the courage to stand up for what is wrong, like someone bullying another at lunch, and the confidence that has others believing in me as their president, like in NHS or Rotary Interact. I will carry with me the experiences that made me this woman today as I continue to make a difference as a young leader of tomorrow."
Sponsor's endorsement: "What sets Ashley apart from other students is her personal commitment to our school and local communities. She has been a member of various clubs and organizations since her freshman year of high school and has been elected president, as an upperclassman, to several of those clubs by faculty and peers. "
Casey Wells, Marian Central Catholic
Parents: Blaine and Tom Wells
Sponsor: Rebecca Reed, guidance director
Community service: National Honor Society president, Chicago Marathon charity runner/finisher for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, Mentor Program co-president
Personal statement: "My life goal came from a book. When I first read 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens,' I was captured by the idea of proactivity. The book explains that to be proactive, I must see myself as the agent of change in my own life. Everything is within my own control and I cannot wait for others to make things happen. After reading the book, I could think of no better way to live."
Sponsor's endorsement: "On a personal basis, this young man is the epitome of a gentleman. He is always welcoming to everyone he encounters and has one of those magnetic personalities that immediately puts one at ease. He is a dedicated, caring, conscientious, well-rounded young man. He has garnered the respect of both his classmates and the faculty at our school for who he is."