Fox Valley Academic Team, 2017-2018

Vidya Babu, Illinois Math and Science Academy

Hometown: Naperville

Parents: Sathuraman Babu and Siva Geetha

Sponsor: Suzanna Spedula

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1580

Planned major: Nueroscience

Awards, honors: National Merit Finalist, Illinois State Scholar, Chicago Brain Bee Winner

Personal statement: "I am positive that I am headed in the right direction. After five conference presentations at the annual meetings of the Chicago Society for Neuroscience and the American Association of Anatomists, I have gained priceless exposure to the field and have only grown more and more firm in my desire to pursue both neuroscience and medicine as a career."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Vidya had her first 'aha' moment at the age of 7. She saw an episode of Ruff Ruffman's Fetch where kids visited a neurologist and learned how ice cream can cause brain freeze. Vidya knew then she wanted to become neurologist, and a lot has happened in the past 10 years to affirm her conviction. Vidya is dedicated to her goals ... she is a joy to work with."

Anjali Bhatt, Huntley High School

Anjali Bhatt, Huntley High School

Hometown: Lake in the Hills

Parents: Anupama and Naren Bhatt

Sponsor: Angie Daurer, counselor

GPA: 4.6 on weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: SAT: 1530

Planned major: Economics and business analytics

Awards, honors: Valedictorian, AP Scholar, Silver Cord Recipient

Personal statement: "Ultimately, I plan to pursue business consulting and corporate law. I do so because I love being the connecting junction, which is what a business does. Business is the uniting force of the world. Business supersedes borders, overcomes social and economic barriers, and connects different occupations. After all, we are not qualified in every field, but we strive to become the jack of all trades. Likewise, as a business consultant, I am a scholar. Each consulting project I work on, I will have the gift of scholarship as I learn more about the diverse problems companies strive to solve."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Anjali lives to learn. In my 11 years as a counselor I really don't think I have ever met someone quite like Anjali. Quintessential is the word I use to describe her; she has every single quality that will make her a success in any challenge."

Richard C. Demert III, Cary-Grove High School

Richard C. Demert III, Cary-Grove High School

Hometown: Cary

Parents: Richard and Laura Demert

Sponsor: Susan Nelligan, English teacher

GPA: 4.9 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 1500

Planned major: Pre-medicine

Awards, honors: Valedictorian, AP Capstone Diploma, Illinois State Scholar,

Personal statement: "From AP biology dissections of pigs, sharks, and cats to AP literature book analyses, the skills that I have developed from my classes during high school have already begun to shape me toward my ultimate goal of becoming a doctor."

Sponsor's endorsement: "His test scores suggest to anyone that he is smart; his class rank and course work confirm he is a hard worker; as his teacher who's worked him the last two years, I can tell you he is the real deal. ... To elaborate, I have seen him help his classmates when they need it, either by editing their work or guiding them through challenges when stuck in their research. I have seen him as a leader in group work and presenting of material."

Sharene Gould Dulabaum, Elgin Academy

Sharene Gould Dulabaum, Elgin Academy

Hometown: Elgin

Parents: Harry Gould and Nina Dulabaum

Sponsor: Doug Sept, Upper School Director

GPA: 4.19 on traditional 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 32

Planned major: Chemistry or biology

Awards, honors: Cum Laude Society, George Eastman Young's Leadership Award, AP Scholar

Personal statement: "I realized that, throughout high school, I have invested my time in so many different disciplines and have appreciated what every single one of them has offered me; it became clear that an integrative major like environmental studies would be for me. In the future, I hope to be employed by a nonprofit or the government, protecting and preserving ecosystems."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Sharene is truly an exceptional student and a pillar of our school community. She is widely regarded at our school for her diverse interests, her enthusiasm for learning, her environmental activism, and her genuine decency. One of Sharene's talents is to recognize problems and then proceed to galvanize support for solving those problems."

Karan Gowda, Elgin Academy

Karan Gowda, Elgin Academy

Hometown: Algonquin

Parents: Manjula Ramaiah and Mahesh Parvathi

Sponsor: Doug Sept, Upper School Director

GPA: 4.14 on a traditional 4.0

Test scores: ACT: 35

Planned major: Public health, biology

Awards, honors: Cum Laude Society, AP Scholar, Elgin Noon Rotary Club Straight A Award

Personal statement: "This fall I will attend Northwestern University. I am going to be a pre-med student with no indication right now of what I want to major in. Once I get there, I want to use the platform of interests I have already built and develop my goals. If I become a doctor, I want to make sure that I am utilizing knowledge from all subjects to be a better doctor."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Having taught Karan in World Cultures I his freshman year and serving as an adviser to his current independent endeavor, I can say that he possesses an excellent work ethic and exceptional intellectual curiosity. He wrote a great research paper as a freshman concerning the Ebola virus, in which he proposed solutions for studying and containing it."

Sheehwa Darius Hong, Illinois Math & Science Academy

Sheehwa Darius Hong, Illinois Math and Science Academy

Hometown: Naperville

Parents: Robert and Sue Hong

Sponsor: Julia Husen, counselor

GPA: 4.0 on traditional 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36

Planned major: Economics and biomedical engineering

Awards, honors: Biology Olympiad Semifinalist, Siemens Competition in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Semifinalist, National Merit Finalist

Personal statement: "My first true passion was science, and I have driven this love for knowledge and research to the farthest level that I know how. I took all the most challenging biology courses in my school while also studying for the USA Biology Olympiad."

Sponsor's endorsement: "How do I write a letter of recommendation for a 17-year-old who thinks like a graduate student? Raised by two hard-working immigrant parents, Darius learned the importance of a strong work ethic early. Even at our high school, one of the most rigorous high schools in the nation, Darius meets every deadline and finishes every project with the highest quality."

Keith Mokry, Marmion Academy

Keith Mokry, Marmion Academy

Hometown: Somonauk

Parents: William and Mary Mokry

Sponsor: Mary Strand

GPA: 4.877 on weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 1560

Planned major: Physics or nuclear engineering

Awards, honors: Rensselaer Medal - Top math/science junior student; National Latin Honor Society; Superior Cadet Award, yearly JROTC award recognizing the best Cadet per year and level; National Merit Finalist, valedictorian.

Personal statement: "From a young age, I have always been intrigued by the 'hows' and 'whys' of the world around me. A fascination with the forces of nature and the laws that describe them has always surrounded my everyday life. I remember fondly my days as a child spent watching Bill Nye the Science Guy, 'Modern Marvels,' and, most especially, the inspiring science television series 'Cosmos.' I am quite plainly a curious person. That is precisely why I have been in love with physics since I was a fifth-grader."

Sponsor's endorsement: "I first met this student as a freshman and he immediately stood out as one of the most intelligent, inquisitive, talented, responsible and passionate students, but even more impressive was his noncondescending manner, generosity ... and his willingness to help his classmates."

Jacqueline Oh, St. Charles North High School

Jacqueline Oh, St. Charles North High School

Hometown: St. Charles

Parents: Ellen and Andrew Oh

Sponsor: Karen Porter

GPA: 5.756 on weighted 6.0 scale

Test scores: SAT: 1570

Planned major: Computer science

Awards, honors: National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar, Semifinalist in Technovation Competition

Personal statement: "My love for math is now inextricably intertwined with my love for programming. Both will help prepare me for whichever computer science path I choose. At the moment, I am most interested in pursuing a career in machine learning, a field that I explored in depth the summer after my junior year during an internship at the Athinoula Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging."

Sponsor's endorsement: "It is not just her academic record that makes her stand out among the crowd. Her interest in research, innovation, and learning have led her to opportunities that have forever changed her life. As a team leader, she created an app in a Technovation competition, took summer college courses at Brown and Yale and spent this past summer as an intern at a lab that focuses on MRI research and methods."

Liam Ryan, Crystal Lake South High School

Liam Ryan, Crystal Lake South High School

Hometown: Crystal Lake

Parents: Eamon and Linda Ryan

Sponsor: Michael Collins, counselor

GPA: 4.859 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 34; SAT: 1430

Planned major: Pre-medicine

Awards, honors: AP Scholar, National Merit Commended Scholar, Nominee of Illinois Principal's Leadership Award

Personal statement: "In AP Chemistry, I loved learning how complicated molecules form and interact with each other. My fascination with the science behind the human body, a desire to help others, and a personal understanding from shadowing my own doctor of the importance of positive interpersonal relationships, makes becoming a doctor a natural fit for me."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Spend any amount of time around Liam, and one will quickly discover an intelligent, responsible, and self-driven young man. Liam possesses an inquisitive and curious nature and an absolute passion for medicine. When Liam discovered there was no medical or future physicians club, he took it upon himself to consult with the activities director, find a faculty sponsor, and create the organization."

Natalie Sweeney, Batavia High School

Natalie Sweeney, Batavia High School

Hometown: Batavia

Parents: Kristin and Roger Sweeney

Sponsor: Corey Bernard

GPA: 4.375 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 1520

Planned major: Civil engineering, music

Awards, honors: AP Scholar with Distinction, WYSE Regional 1st Place in English, National Merit Finalist

Personal statement: "As a high-achieving math and science student, my potential as a future engineer has always excited my parents and relatives. From a young age I was encouraged over Thanksgiving dinners and Easter brunches to follow in my Uncle Steve's footsteps and become a civil engineer. Fast-forward some years, and it turns out civil engineering really does interest and excite me."

Sponsor's endorsement: "To say that Natalie is a well-rounded student is an understatement. On top of managing a rigorous course load, she is extremely active in our theater department, where she has earned several leading and supporting roles in our school productions. Natalie's excellent public speaking and communication skills make her stand above the rest."

Fox Valley Academic Team honorable mentions

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