Ella Crowley, Glenbard West High School
Hometown: Glen Ellyn
Parents: Brian and Amy Crowley
Sponsor: Mike Neberz, school counselor
GPA: 5.77 on a weighted 5.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1530
Planned major: Chemistry and physics
Awards, honors: National Merit finalist, Billy Michal Student Leadership Award, Illinois Math League Award, honor roll, National Honor Society, AP Scholar, Presidential Scholar candidate, Illinois State Scholar, student government
Personal statement: "One goal in my life is to expand the cache of knowledge that we have about our universe at the molecular and atomic levels. More specifically, research in chemistry and particle physics is my goal, fields in which further discovery will help us better understand systems from the unexplored regions of space to the much-scrutinized systems in our own bodies: cellular pathways, tumor growth mechanisms and the like."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She's an analyst, efficient, a good listener and incredibly active. She prides herself on never sitting down and knows she functions at her best when in motion, yet can take the time to just be Ella."
Benjamin Fefferman, Wheaton North High School
Parents: Robert and Joan Fefferman
Sponsor: Wendy Biggs, school counselor
Planned major: Chemistry
Awards, honors: New Philharmonic Symphony Young People's Competition winner, math team Certificate of Merit Superior Achievement Sophomore Division, honor roll, National Honor Society, AP Scholar, student government
Personal statement: "I hope that I can give back to society and make a contribution to science while serving my community in music, philanthropy, and charity. The combination of my goals with my achievements, and the support and guidance of my family, will hopefully set me up to give back and to contribute to society."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Ben's true interest is in the quest for knowledge. Good grades and a strong GPA are a byproduct of this work, but not his ultimate goal. Our focus has been to fulfill graduation requirements while allowing Ben to study at a level that is appropriate to him."
Noah Kamm, Willowbrook High School
Hometown: Villa Park
Parents: Eric and Lesli Kamm
Sponsor: Eastman Tiu, science teacher and Scholastic Bowl head coach
GPA: 4.81 on a 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1580
Planned major: Mathematics and physics
Awards, honors: Math Honor Society, National English Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, National Merit commended scholar, National Honor Society, AP Scholar with Distinction
Personal statement: "One of my next goals is to complete the gauntlet of college all the way through a master's degree, and quite possibly even a doctorate, before moving on to something even more exciting. My academic interests in mathematics and physics have helped me determine my goals as much as my goals have enhanced my love for mathematics and the sciences."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Noah has made himself extremely well-rounded in academic knowledge. More than that, he's always been an enthusiastic learner and seeks to understand and know more, and not necessarily just for competition. He loves to learn for the sake of learning."
Xinru Li, Hinsdale Central High School
Parent: Jing Li
Sponsor: Cindy Kasten
GPA: 5.97 on a weighted 5.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 1560
Planned major: Business, entrepreneurship and organizations
Awards, honors: National Merit finalist, honor roll, National Honor Society, AP Scholar, Illinois State Scholar
Personal statement: "For me, I want to learn as much as possible. Academic knowledge opens the mind to reading the book that is this universe, and only by understanding our world, however slightly, could we change it for the better. This is also why I want to study business and entrepreneurship, so I could take what I learned from the classroom and apply it into my community." Sponsor's endorsement: "Xinru is a creative, analytical and enthusiastic young student. She is naturally curious and has appreciated all the opportunities during high school to expand her knowledge of the world. Xinru has pursued art, music, cooking, badminton and a wide variety of clubs in her free time, and has gained valuable life lessons from each activity. Xinru is a passionate learner who is constantly seeking knowledge."
Yangyang Li, Naperville Central High School
Parents: June Zuo and Huachao Li
Sponsor: Michael Ulreich, social studies teacher
GPA: 4.70 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1570
Planned major: Neuroscience and economics
Awards, honors: State champion in forensic research, American Vision nominee, National Business Professionals of America ambassador, National Merit finalist, honor roll, National Honor Society, AP Scholar, Illinois State Scholar
Personal statement: "While my honors and awards are what shows on the surface, it is the fulfilling education underneath that I am grateful for. My real academic accomplishment is not the collection of accolades, but the learning experience -- it's the background I need to help me one day repair contemporary health care."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Outside of the classroom, Yangyang's achievements are also remarkable. The fact that she is actively involved in many extracurricular organizations and internships is a testament to her commitment to being a well-rounded student and lifelong learner."
Glenbard North High School
Hometown: Carol Stream
Parents: Martin and Jennifer O'Connell
Sponsor: Kim Munro, counselor
GPA: 5.5849 on a weighted 5.0 scale
Test scores: SAT: 1580
Planned major: History
Awards, honors: National Merit Scholar, Illinois State Scholar, AP Scholar, honor roll, National Honor Society, Presidential Scholar candidate
Personal statement: "Ever since my semi-obsession with Greek mythology and invested interest in my fifth-grade class re-enactment of the Oregon Trail, I've loved history. To me, in class, it's the most fascinating tale ever told with a never-ending plotline. It's an inspiring yet scary story that demands attention. And when faced with questions about why our society is the way it is or, most importantly, what certain societies have in common, history provides the answers."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I imagine that no matter what path she takes in life, someday I will be able to point out Sam's contributions to our community and country and tell my own two daughters that she is a wonderful role model to emulate."
St. Francis High School
Hometown: Glen Ellyn
Parents: Michael and Rosanne Rueth
Sponsor: Trudy Rigney, director of counseling
GPA: 5.38 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 36
Planned major: Chemical engineering
Awards, honors: Valedictorian, Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award, Graduate with Honors with Distinction, honor roll, National Honor Society, AP Scholar, Presidential Scholar candidate, Illinois State Scholar
Personal statement: "From working as a volunteer, leading my peers in various clubs, or gaining practical engineering and academic experience from teachers and extracurricular activities, I have tried to grow into someone who can and will dedicate myself to the betterment of others. This boils down to my ultimate life goal: to become someone who has committed himself to changing the world for the better in any capacity possible while remaining the best person I can be."
Sponsor's endorsement: "In the classroom, he is the perfect role model and every teacher's dream student. He listens, asks great questions, and helps those who struggle with the material."
Bayan Rabeh Salamah, Islamic Foundation School
Parents: Rabeh Salamah and Weam Salamah
Sponsor: Linda Qatanani, counselor
GPA: 5.0 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 33
Planned major: Biology
Awards, honors: Illinois State Scholar, AP Scholar, President's Award for Academic Excellence, honor roll, National Honor Society, student government
Personal statement: "I had to understand that a grade is just a letter. It does not define the person you are or your potential because you cannot expect one person to succeed in everything; what matters most is that you work hard with all of your effort."
Sponsor's endorsement: "What's unique about Bayan does not come from her grades, test scores, or even the leadership positions she has held in NHS, the student council, or anything else she has done during her high school experience. What's unique about Bayan is that she has pushed herself to succeed despite so many factors that could have held her back."
Jamie Zhang, Naperville Central High School
Parents: Lijuan Huang and Jintao Zhang
Sponsor: Anna Ma, school counselor
GPA: 4.765 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 36
Planned major: Biomedical engineering
Awards, honors: National Merit finalist, honor roll, National Honor Society, AP Scholar, Presidential Scholar candidate, Illinois State Scholar, student government member, third place in biology at the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering state competition
Personal statement: "Taken together, my experiences have paved a sturdy path toward my goal to serve as a member of either Doctors Without Borders or Partners in Health. My desire to take part in such organizations is inspired by my long-term dedication to volunteering and community service. ... In my future, I am inspired to not only use my knowledge as a doctor to effect change in my immediate surroundings, but also aid those in need across the globe."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Easily, Jamie is one of the most outstanding students in her class. Whichever college or university she attends next year will be very lucky to have her as a student."
Justin Zhao, Neuqua Valley High School
Parents: Xuan Zhao and Jianwei Yin
Sponsor: James Fox, math instructor
GPA: 4.69 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1600
Planned major: Economics
Awards, honors: U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad finalist, American International Mathematics Exam Qualifier, Business Professionals of America first place state leadership conference, National Merit finalist, honor roll, AP Scholar, Presidential Scholar candidate, Illinois State Scholar, student government
Personal statement: "This spring, I founded with four like-minded students the People Powered Community, a tutoring organization offering free ACT/SAT preparation services for underprivileged students. ... I aim to confront educational inequality and truly establish a 'people-powered community.' We may not fundamentally change the status of education, but we can chip away at the issue by helping one student at a time."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Justin is a very down-to-earth person who understands how fortunate he is, and is always looking to give back and help others who are not as fortunate."