Lyndsey Bassett, Grayslake Central High School
Parents: Mary and Chris Bassett
Sponsor: Adrijana Bisevac, AP U.S. History Teacher
GPA: 4.602 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 32; SAT: 1400
Planned major: Biomedical sciences
Awards, honors: VFW Voice of Democracy Essay Winner (2017); Good Shepherd Hospital Future Healthcare Professionals Program Certificate of Distinction (2017); National Honor Society
Personal statement: "Although I was able to transform my illness into a powerful motivator to work hard to succeed, I am aware there are others who do not have the physical health or emotional support to do the same. This realization influenced my decision to pursue a biomedical sciences degree, with the intent of becoming a physician's assistant, so I am able to help others who are struggling with medical issues."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She is a true intellect who has a keen sense of scholarship and the skills necessary to excel in whatever endeavors she chooses to pursue. More importantly, she genuinely cares about making a difference and positively impacting the world around her."
Shirley Cao, Stevenson High School
Hometown: Buffalo Grove
Parents: Minling Qiu and Zhengsong Cao
Sponsor: Denise Foster, AP English Teacher
GPA: 4.82 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: SAT: 1570
Planned major: Mechanical engineering and computer science
Awards, honors: ABRSM Piano Grade 8 Passed with Distinction; National Merit Finalist; National AP Scholar
Personal statement: "During my junior year, I became drawn to engineering, particularly to mechanics. At first, a part of me doubted that I could pursue such a career -- perhaps I didn't think I had the capability to keep up with the work or continue my passion for it. However, after taking classes like Calculus 3 and Linear Algebra and competing in Vex Robotics challenges, I learned to embrace my fears of failure and simply try."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I can't gush enough about Shirley. Shirley has given to our school, the student body, and the area community in numerous ways. Shirley reflects the kind of integrity and work ethic that will shepherd this next generation to a finer existence."
Grace Kinsey, Lake Zurich High School
Hometown: Hawthorn Woods
Parents: Jeff and Heather Kinsey
Sponsor: Laura Beata, school counselor
GPA: 5.25 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 1550
Planned major: Economics
Awards, honors: FBLA State First Place in Organizational Leadership, 2017; FBLA State Third Place in Economics, 2018; FBLA State Fifth Place Introduction to Communications, 2016
Personal statement: "As much as I try to deny it, I'm a deeply competitive person. During high school, Future Business Leaders of America provided an outlet for my competitive nature and a way to explore business topics more thoroughly. Through FBLA, I have increased my knowledge of business principles that I can apply to the real world after graduation to help me achieve my goal of someday owning my own business."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Grace has a very calm demeanor, and I would describe her as a 'quiet leader.' She serves in a variety of leadership roles, and is well respected by her peers and staff alike. She does not back down from a challenge and she is a great problem solver."
Kathleen Lund, Libertyville High School
Parents: Michael and Jennifer Lund
Sponsor: Amy Belstra, college counselor
GPA: 4.591 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 1590
Planned major: Computer science
Awards, honors: National Merit Finalist; 2018 National Honorable Mention of the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing; Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award (junior science student of the year)
Personal statement: "It was an eighth-grade HTML course that piqued my interest in computer science -- a simple 'about me' website comprised of less than a hundred total lines of code set the route for my future. Following the creation of my website, I went on to take two computer science classes in high school, where I learned logical foundations and Java. In these lectures, the foggy concept of computer science morphed into an understanding and then a passion."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She finds ways to give back, and one of the most notable is 'The Noteables,' a string ensemble she formed that performs at local retirement communities."
Anmol Parande, Vernon Hills High School
Hometown: Vernon Hills
Parents: Rajendra Parande and Sangita Parande
Sponsor: DeAnn Firnbach, counselor
GPA: 4.681 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1570
Planned major: Electrical engineering and computer science
Awards, honors: Congressional App Challenge Winner of Illinois District 10; Finalist in Illinois State History Fair; Future Business Leaders of America (10th place at national competition, three First Place finishes at state competition)
Personal statement: "I began my foray into entrepreneurship when I found myself learning iOS mobile application development in sixth grade. I have since released four applications to the Apple app store and built several websites. My most recent iPhone app, GoGreen, helps households monitor their energy consumption."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I think most teachers would happily teach for nothing if all students were like Anmol. He is a gem. He welcomes people, conversation, and pushes his classmates to do more, all the while encouraging them when they struggle."
Valerie Pokorny, Antioch Community High School
Parents: Nicolas and Madeleine Pokorny
Sponsor: Robert Schrader, teacher
GPA: 4.667 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: SAT: 1310
Planned major: Environmental science
Awards, honors: State Seal of Biliteracy/German; Illinois State Scholar; "You Make a Difference" Award for Academic Excellence, May 2015, April 2015, and March 2016
Personal statement: "My academic accomplishments stem from my seeming innate drive to exceed in my education. From the very beginning, I had a sort of impulse to try my best, and it would be impossible to shut off. Imagine my parents' amusement when I needed to try everything myself and know the answer to every question I had immediately. I learned throughout my school years that this is just the way I am, the way my mind works."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Valerie is the kind of person that comes around maybe once in a decade or longer. Over the past eight years, Valerie has lived in five different cities in three different countries. She is bilingual, German being her native tongue, and also speaks flawless English."
Suraj Rajendran, Libertyville High School
Hometown: Lake Bluff
Parents: Silja & Anidil Rajendran
Sponsor: John Mortillaro, counselor
GPA: 4.65 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 1590
Planned major: Biomedical engineering, Minors: Computing and intelligence, computational data analysis
Awards, honors: National Merit Scholar; Emperor Science Award Winner; Illinois Science Teacher Association Award
Personal statement: "Every moment we are the setting for a perpetual war. A war in which the fate of our health and well-being are at stake. A war where good can turn evil and evil can be good. A war where the smallest of actions could result in horrible consequences. I'm talking, of course, about the battle that our immune system wages with foreign elements that have intruded our body."
Sponsor's endorsement: "What I find to be most endearing about Suraj is his maturity and detailed planning. When we discuss his future, our conversations are information rich and have just about every conceivable option put out on the table. I wonder sometimes if he puts way too much on his plate, but every time I think that, he manages to complete the task at hand in very impressive fashion."
Rafael Torres, Grant Community High School
Parents: Luis Torres, Maricruz Torres
Sponsor: Angela Balanag, AP English teacher
GPA: 5.251 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 31; SAT: 1370
Planned major: Biology, pre-med track
Awards, honors: Scholar's List (top 10) all four years; All Conference NLCC Student Athlete Academic Team; February Student of the Month
Personal statement: "Science fascinates me. I can sit for hours reading information about chemistry, biology, and physics. It seems natural to pursue a career in such a field. I want to be a physician's assistant, or PA, specifically. A physician's assistant can prescribe medication, recommend specialists, and do anything a doctor can except own a private practice."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Rafa joined my AP English Language and Composition course in August 2016 and added a knowledgeable, political dimension to the class discussion. Rafa welcomes intelligent debate with his peers and teachers, conducts himself with poise, and entertains in the process, for he is as charismatic as he is intelligent."
Coral Wang, Carmel Catholic High School
Hometown: Lake Villa
Sponsor: John Titterton, AP calculus teacher
GPA: 4.53 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 35
Planned major: Biological/biomedical engineering
Awards, honors: National Merit Finalist; two-time NSML State Math Team qualifier in Individual, Oral, Calculator, and Relay competitions; two-time first place team Mundelein Mayor's Math Contest
Personal statement: "Through applying an extensive knowledge of biology, chemistry, and physics, bioengineers can manipulate biological and chemical systems to solve many different problems. I hope that I can help create inventive solutions for global health issues and make new breakthroughs in oncology through the synthesis of my knowledge of biology with the analytical processes of engineering."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Coral is a superb student. In Algebra II Honors, she worked hard and aced every assignment. In Summer Geometry, Coral provided more of the same, again acing the class while also helping her fellow students."
Daniel Wieczorek, Lakes Community High School
Hometown: Lake Villa
Parents: Gary and Sylvia Wieczorek
Sponsor: Tyler Reimer, school counselor
GPA: 4.6 on a weighted 4.0 scale
Test scores: ACT: 34; SAT: 1530
Planned major: Biomedical engineering
Awards, honors: AP Scholar with Honor Award; National Hispanic Recognition Program; High Academic Achievement Awards
Personal statement: "My grandfather fell to Alzheimer's disease when I was only 6 years old. Visiting him in the hospital as he deteriorated made me feel helpless, so I innocently started researching how to become a doctor in an attempt to cure him. This was how my enthusiasm for medicine emerged, and it continued to flourish as I matured."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Daniel often listens to others' ideas and thoughts before speaking; he is always taking in information to make the best decision. He makes classes better because he is able to listen and create a unique viewpoint. It is not all books and sports with Daniel. He has spent many hours volunteering with Bernie's Book Bank, Lake County Cares and Feed My Starving Children."