2013-2014 Northwest suburban Leadership Team
Ian Fitzgerald, Rolling Meadows High School
Hometown: Arlington Heights
Parents: Patrick & Donna Fitzgerald
Sponsor: Liz Kirby, English teacher
Community service: Helps coordinate the Frontier Days' Teen Team, handling numerous events, from delivering food items to supervising sporting events. Member of the Arlington Heights Youth Commission, Rotary Interact Club and Students Committed to Service and the National Honor Society. Freshman mentor at RMHS.
Personal statement: "After 3 months of work and collaboration with the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, we hosted the first Teen Job Fair. We had more than 12 employers present and over 300 teens. Launching the teen job fair was a remarkable experience, where I learned that helping other people achieve their goals is almost more rewarding than achieving your own."
Sponsor's endorsement: "An exemplary student with an impeccable character and an honest zeal for service. (He has) innate abilities for implementation planning, organizational development, and business building. All students look up to him because he knows the economics of leadership: Kindness costs nothing."
Emily Hernandez, Buffalo Grove High School
Hometown: Buffalo Grove
Parents: Jacquelyn Romero
Sponsor: Jeanne Shin-Cooper, teacher and Interact sponsor
Community service: One of the organizers for the District 214 Intergenerational Prom; volunteers to mentor/tutor middle schoolers once or twice a week after school; has worked at a soup kitchen for four years; a main leader for Relay For Life, including organizing a dinner honoring cancer survivors.
Personal statement: "My first lifegoal: improving the supply of necessities for people in less-fortunate areas. My most treasured lifegoal: to spread the beauty of volunteering. Changing a community is the first step to changing the world, and it cannot be done without the dedicated hearts of many."
Sponsor's endorsement: "As the senior leader and president of Interact, Emily manages our school's volunteer organization with charisma, intelligence and dedication. Emily oversees multiple activities, including soup kitchens, middle school tutoring, outreach events, and fundraisers. Most impressive of all, Emily effortlessly leads a group of 80 students during our weekly meetings."
Marki Kaim, Elk Grove High School
Hometown: Elk Grove Village
Parents: Beth & Rick Kaim
Sponsor: Deb Ohler, counselor
Community service: Co-founded of the Elk Grove Leo Club, a Lions Club branch for ages 12-18, where she organizes and leads every charitable activity. Is director of youth volunteers for Almost Home animal rescue, where she has raised thousands of dollars, works at adoption shows, socializes animals.
Personal statement: "I am still not sure if it's a gift that I thrive in front of the camera, but I do know that it led me to my lifelong goal of being a talk-show host. Being a news anchor or talk-show host would give me a platform for continued volunteering achievement, as soliciting support for each cause would be on a global level and could prosper on a whole new level."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She is not only an outstanding student, but a truly remarkable young woman. It has been a privilege to know and work with her and words cannot adequately express her tremendous attributes. Marki has been a phenomenal asset to her school and will continue to be an invaluable asset in the community, in college, and beyond."
Alicia Leja, St. Viator High School
Hometown: Mount Prospect
Parents: Mr. & Mrs. Walter Leja
Sponsor: Principal Eileen Manno
Community service: Started "All Children Deserve Clean Water" at St. Emily's in Mount Prospect, collecting money for filtration systems in Bolivia; made get-well cards for patients at Glenbrook Hospital; tutors for Catholic Charities in Des Plaines; in Guatemala, part of a team that installed 160 stoves and more than 60 water filtration systems; member of Leadership In Training.
Personal statement: "Throughout my life, I have always set personal and educational goals. Although they constantly change, they keep me motivated to accomplish the next task. Goals help a person keep a positive attitude in life. Many of my life goals are ideal, yet they lead me to situations and experiences I never would have had if I had never attempted them."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Alicia is one of those quiet leaders who serves those most in need from her heart and because it is the right thing to do. She opens her eyes to the real needs in our society and looks for ways she can serve."
Brian Loomis, John Hersey High School
Hometown: Arlington Heights
Parents: Larry & Kelly Loomis
Sponsor: Janet Levin, journalism adviser
Community service: Deeply involved with Erika's Lighthouse, recruiting members and speaking to others, spreading understanding of teen depression; National Honor Society service club; captain of the soccer team.
Personal statement: "Before I lost my friend, I never knew much about depression. After her death, Erika's Lighthouse was started ... to help erase the stigma that surrounds teen depression. We have spoken in health classes and freshman gym classes about depression in an effort to inform students and educate students. This has been a rewarding experience."
Sponsor's endorsement: "As an editor-in-chief his senior year, he has learned what it means to be a leader. Through his love of garbage trucks, he has become passionate about the environment. Through suicide and cancer, he has learned to make positives out of the loss of two friends. He has learned how to coax his peers into doing work as it needs to be done."
Syed Matin, Maine East High School
Hometown: Des Plaines
Parents: Rafat Matin & Syed Matinullah
Sponsor: John Schwan, teacher; DECA and Rotary Interact Club adviser
Community service: As president/founder of the Rotary Interact Club at Maine East, he organized raffles and a clothes drive, raised money to eradicate polio and buy gifts for orphans. Organized and led DECA Club fundraiser for the school health center; built homes in New Orleans; assisted in organizing and serving daily dinners during Ramadan; projects for Schuler Scholars program.
Personal statement: "The accomplishments I value the most are the ones that have profoundly changed my mindset on life, the ones that have changed me as a person, the ones that may not appear on my transcript or resume."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Syed has been one of those rare students who has distinguished himself as a true leader who places service above self. (Due to) his leadership, Rotary International recognized him as a Paul Harris Fellow. This award is usually reserved for Rotary International members who have provided exemplary service to the community."
Allison Oakes, Wm. Fremd High School
Parents: Mary Kay Oakes and (the late) Roger K. Oakes Jr.
Sponsor: John Baima, college counselor
Community service: Relay For Life team member since age 6, team captain, board member and youth committee chair, raising more than $50,000. Multiple projects through Service Over Self Club; student director of an all-girl a cappella chorus; church mission trips.
Personal statement: "I've been extremely blessed with the resources and support that my family, school and community has given to me the past few years, and I hope to take the skills that I have learned to make a difference in the world. I'm so excited for the future and feel as though I've built a strong base of skills and knowledge to be able to accomplish my life goals."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Allison's main interest of study is public relations. I cannot imagine a better prepared student, as she is ready right now to dive into the many avenues this field has to offer. Her emotional maturity, natural charm, and driven work ethic will propel her to succeed in school and in life."
Courtney Quigley, Barrington High School
Parents: Jim & Jennifer Quigley
Sponsor: Jill Bauer, student volunteer program coordinator
Community service: Interned for Potter's House, which serves people living in the Guatemala City dump; fundraised $16,000 for Guatemalan family that bought them their first house; co-founded special needs cheerleading team for GiGi's Playhouse; coaches Special Olympics athletes.
Personal statement: "Loving others is the most important responsibility in life. Action filled with love can be transformed into the powerful force of hope. Love is the inspiration, action is the evidence, and hope is the promise for change. Through love I have discovered purpose."
Sponsor's endorsement: "This student comes up with significant BIG ideas to help those she feels compassion for. Through her talent for leadership and communication, she creates an energy that inspires not only her peers, but also adults, to give up their time and empty their pockets to bring those ideas to reality."
Kshama Shah, Conant High School
Parents: Hiren & Manisha Shah
Sponsor: Kim Wiley, college and career counselor
Community service: Volunteers in the oncology department at Alexian Brothers Medical Center; a teaching assistant at Dr. Rubin's Mini Medical School for high school students; in Morocco, helped clean up an area for sub-Sahara African immigrants and turn it into a small park; tutors other students.
Personal statement: "As a grade-school student, I often traveled to India, where I volunteered at a traveling soup kitchen. I witnessed firsthand the extreme poverty -- most of the guests owned nothing more than the clothes on their backs, yet were so happy to receive a simple meal. These experiences instilled in me a deep sense of gratitude for my blessings and an awareness of the need to fight hunger."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I have never encountered a student who has been more focused on her future. Kshama sets very high goals for herself. She impresses everyone with her positive, caring attitude and will undoubtedly change the world one day."
Nick Vucovich, Wm. Fremd High School
Parents: David & Veronica Vucovich
Sponsor: Laura Marsh, English teacher
Community service: Since age 7, volunteered at HAVE (Helping Autistic Voices Emerge) Dreams, an after-school program for kids with autism, spoke at the group's fundraiser, volunteered in the office. Board member for Fremd's Service Over Self Club; school organizer for Share Your Soles project.
Personal statement: "With all the opportunities available to me, I feel obligated to take advantage of every single one for me and my brother. Wherever my career path takes me, I know I will do whatever I can to try and help autistic voices be heard."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Most AP students are smart, hardworking, involved and polite. He is all of these, but with extra intensity. He is more than smart; he is original, thoughtful and creative. He is more than hardworking; he is prepared, self-motivated and reflective. He is more than involved; he is passionate and dedicated. He is more than polite; he is humble, genuine and honest."