6 young Suburban Standouts: Where are they now?
One of our favorite things during the holiday season is catching up with the young men and women we have profiled over the years in our Suburban Standouts column.
And it never fails -- no matter how much time has passed, they always impress us with their hard work and successes in life.
Here's a look at six who continued to stand out in 2016:
When we profiled 22-year-old Wilbur You in 2013, his company, Youtech & Associates in Naperville, had two employees and occupied a small, 500-square-foot office on the top floor of a converted house.
The business since has grown to 28 people -- with a few more to be hired in the next few months -- and in January moved into a 6,000-square-foot modern space along the I-88 tech corridor in Naperville.
Wilbur, now 25, said he never thought the company would grow so fast. "My employees are amazing, and they have been huge support in every aspect of Youtech's growth."
The full-service marketing agency provides design, programming, social media, search engine optimization, sales and more to its more than 500 clients across the United States and even ones in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, he said.
And the business is still growing.
"Being 25 and managing 28 people is stressful at times, trust me, but at the end of the day, we have the same vision in mind, and we try to be the best we can be."
Jasmine Getz of Sleepy Hollow uses her one-hour, six-days-a-week Metra commute to Chicago to get stuff done or read books, but there are times when she can't help but take a nap. That's because she spends all day as a trainee at Joffrey Ballet and will take the stage as part of the "Winning Works" choreographic competition in March.
We profiled Jasmine in 2014, after she became the first American to win a world title in ballet/pointe in her age group at the International Dance Organization's World Danceweek, held in Poland.
She graduated this summer from Hampshire High School and received various scholarship offers before ultimately deciding to put all her energy into the Joffrey, she said.
"I've loved the Joffrey in Chicago since I was little," she said. "I was very nervous about getting ready to decide if I would do just college, or just dance, or college and dance. When I applied and when I got all my acceptances and my scholarships, I was over the moon. I was extremely happy and my parents were extremely proud. That was a great moment to see that I have all these opportunities."
Having Asperger syndrome -- with experts even telling his parents early on that he'd never be able to hold a job or truly function independently -- still isn't stopping Max McKeough from achieving his goals.
Now 18, Max is a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he carries a 4.0 GPA as a bioengineering major. When we met him in 2014, the Antioch teen had delivered the commencement speech at his Antioch Community High School graduation.
Adapting to college life wasn't easy, especially the first year, Max said. "It was a big jump to academics and also a whole new social scene. I am not that good at socializing or having conversations," he said. "Then I got used to interacting with roommates, interacting with others, professors, and got used to the academic rigor."
He initially thought he'd study neuroscience, but nearly fainting in the cadaver lab made him change his mind.
"I wanted to still be in the same vein where I could be part of the medical field and helping people," he said. "Making medical devices is a little more my speed."
Carpentersville police officer Ignacio "Nacho" Cervantes, 25, never thought of embarking on a career in law enforcement until former Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez suggested it to him when Cervantes was honored with one of the 2013 Phenomenal Men of the Year awards from the organization Boys II Men in Aurora.
"I love protecting and serving the community of Carpentersville," Nacho said. "I was lucky to get hired in a police department where the community is 50/50 (white and Hispanic) where I can use my language every day, helping people all the time."
When we met Nacho in 2012, he was a junior at Aurora University, serving as president of the Latin American Student Organization while helping his family run a catering business called Tacos Junior. He had been the youngest board of education member in the history of East Aurora School District 131.
Nacho said he lost 55 pounds by dieting and working out so he could be hired by the sheriff's office after graduating college in 2014. That ended up not working out, he said, and he was hired in 2015 by Carpentersville.
"Carpentersville decided to open their arms, and ever since then, I've been here and I love it."
We met Madeline "Maddie" Koldos of Elgin last year, just before she set off to study astroengineering at the University of Southern California after being named a Quest Scholar by the national organization QuestBridge.
"I find myself really happy there," said Maddie, now 20 and a sophomore. "I just feel like I fit in really well. I've made amazing friends, and I feel so honored to have the opportunity to have gone out there and experienced a whole new life and way of thinking."
This past summer Maddie spent two weeks in Moscow for an international student workshop through Rice University's Baker Institute Space Policy Program. "They had us tour around and see historical museums with spacecraft, space technologies. It was a cultural immersion experience and we also had a team project. It was really fun."
Now, she's deciding between doing a summer internship at the Jet Propulsion Lab, a federally funded center managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology, or one at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, also in California.
She plans to get a master's degree and do what she's wanted to do since she was a little girl: work in space flight.
Here is what 15-year-old Sheridan Archbold of Yorkville has been up to in the past year: He released his first CD, he performed at the 37th annual Young Artist awards in Los Angeles, he filmed a web series to be released in March, and he performed in productions at the New York Lyric Opera, the National Opera Center and Carnegie Hall.
All this while dealing with the frustrations of puberty's vocal changes, a nightmare for any young singer.
"When it hits you, it's like I can sing good today and tomorrow morning I can't sing anymore," said Sheridan, who started as a high soprano and is now a low bass baritone. "There is no foundation to build off because everything is constantly shifting."
The worst is finally over, he said, and now he is working on a creating a new solo show to showcase his new voice. His plans to audition for the TV show "The Voice" in 2018.
"Let's not get overconfident, but as of right now, and to where I am currently in the path I am heading down, I see definitely good things to come."