Northwest Suburban Academic Team, 2016-2017

Kayla Beckley, John Hersey High School

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Parents: John and Susan Beckley

Sponsor: Kent Borghoff

GPA: 5.57 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 34

Planned major: Psychology, secondary education

Awards, honors: National Merit Commended Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction, 'A' Honor Roll all semesters

Personal statement: "Beyond the numbers and titles which often come to define a student, I am most satisfied with the person education shaped me into. I consider my greatest academic achievement to be my development into a confident and hardworking leader. I aspire to continue leading others toward success so that they too discover their own gifts and passions."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Over the course of my career, I have written hundreds of letters of recommendation for talented students with promising futures. But introducing Kayla is an especially daunting task because her academic and personal qualities far exceed my descriptive abilities. No letter can possibly capture her positive spirit, her enjoyment of learning, or her consideration for others."

Ruchi Chitgopekar

Ruchi Chitgopekar, William Fremd High School

Hometown: Hoffman Estates

Parents: Nitin and Sucheta Chitgopekar

Sponsor: Colene Brockman, asst. principal

GPA: 5.096 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35

Planned major: Chemical engineering

Awards, honors: National Merit Finalist; Illinois State Scholar; National Honor Society

Personal statement: "When I began thinking about my future, all I knew was that I wanted to make the world a better place. I knew that was what poets did, and I knew that was what doctors did. So I focused on finding a middle ground. In pursuing chemical engineering in my undergraduate studies, I plan to minor in environmental engineering and sociology, and work on developing environmentally sustainable products targeted toward marginalized groups in lower socioeconomic classes."

Sponsor's endorsement: "It is very rare to find a person at any age who exhibits the maturity, empathy and understanding of the world the way she did when she was in my class. Her contributions to our classroom discussion gave students a greater insight of society's complexities beyond our high school bubble."

Kevin Eberhardt

Kevin Eberhardt, Schaumburg High School

Hometown: Schaumburg

Parents: Michael and Andrea Eberhardt

Sponsor: Lichien Chan, Chinese teacher

GPA: 5.207 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 2370

Planned major: Computer science

Awards, honors: U.S. Department of State NSLI-Y Student Ambassador (summer study in China); Math Team: ICTM State Competition 2014, 2016, 2017; Math Team: Harvard-MIT Math Tournament November 2016

Personal statement: "My mother was born in Taiwan, and she grew up in Argentina. She showed me that excellence is a journey which continues throughout life, for she faced many challenges pursuing her dream of becoming an electrical engineer. As I pursue a career in computer science, I know there will be many challenges that I will face, and I will need to work with others to solve them."

Sponsor's endorsement: "In past summers, he received scholarships to study in China and in the Startalk Chinese program. These opportunities allowed him to experience another culture, to apply what he has learned in the classroom, and to be immersed completely in the Chinese language."

Amanda Jarosik

Amanda Jarosik, Rolling Meadows High School

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Parents: Keith and Rachel Jarosik

Sponsor: Mona Hansra, counselor

GPA: 5.54 on a weighted 5.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1500

Planned major: Biology

Awards, honors: Presidential Scholarship Candidate; National Merit Finalist; National Honor Society president

Personal statement: "Academics and extracurriculars have been the yin and yang of my high school experience, blending and building off of each other to make me who I am today. Academics has given me the knowledge I need to be a doctor, but it is my activities that have given me the skills and passion to pursue my dream. My fascination with biology continues, and as I face the new challenge of college, I know with certainty that I want to put all my high school experiences to good use by dedicating my life to serving those who need medical care."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Amanda is one of the most well-rounded students that I know. Amanda can be described as kind, intelligent, friendly, studious, responsible, inquisitive, determined and talented."

Paulina Piwowarczyk

Paulina Piwowarczyk, St. Viator High School

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Parents: Grace and Marian Piwowarczyk

Sponsor: Vicky Giusti, science teacher

GPA: 107.15 on a weighted 100 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35

Planned major: Biology or linguistics

Awards, honors: AP Scholar with Distinction; class valedictorian; Commended National Merit Scholar

Personal statement: "I am certainly not a typical teenager; I stay home and read Emily Dickinson poems more often than I go to parties, and I listen to musical soundtracks rather than EDM playlists. I enjoy school, and if all goes according to plan, I still have another eight years of education ahead of me as I go on to Harvard University and then medical school. I am drawn toward intellectual experiences that enrich my life."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Paulina is full of enthusiasm. She is enthusiastic about learning and improving herself, growing, exploring and setting out on new adventures. She does not sit on the sidelines, but makes things happen; she gets involved and takes risks. She has the spirit to meet any challenge and the intellectual ability to contribute significantly."

Parin Shah

Parin Shah, Hoffman Estates High School

Hometown: Streamwood

Parents: Upen and Rekha Shah

Sponsor: Suzanne Fetherling, science teacher

GPA: 5.016 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 1500 (critical reading, 750; mathematics, 750)

Planned major: Biology

Awards, honors: State Athletic Scholar Award; Robert Creek Excellence Award; Academic Scholar Award

Personal statement: "I learned that to be successful I wasn't supposed to run after success, but capability. If I was capable in my classes, if I was able to absorb, comprehend and share the teachings given to me, I could be successful. My distinctions were the result of my efforts, not my pride, and I hope to carry that lesson with me."

Sponsor's endorsement: "She is bold and adventurous. Others feel empowered around her. She experiences success by freely making mistakes and encourages others to join her in that journey. Learning becomes fun, like a game, and her peers feel their confidence build as her playful attitude becomes contagious. Her excitement has amplified the learning of other students to an exponential degree."

Katie Solarz

Katie Solarz, St. Viator High School

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Parents: Rachel and Todd Mortellaro, and Mike Solarz

Sponsor: Joe Majkowski

GPA: 106.27 on a 100 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1550

Planned major: Applied and computational mathematics and statistics

Awards, honors: Salutatorian of the Class of 2017; National Merit Finalist; AP Scholar with Distinction

Personal statement: "Over four years, an appreciation for mathematics has become deeply rooted within my being. I have had the privilege to explore the unit circle in trigonometry, take derivatives and triple integrals in calculus and analyze data in statistics. I find myself continuously intrigued by problems that pose the largest challenge, be it in complexity or in difficulty, as these perplexities often yield the largest growth in knowledge."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Kaitlyn is an outstanding young lady, and one of the best students I have encountered in 40 years as an educator. She is the epitome of a well-rounded student, excelling both academically and in activities. She is a leader, a role model and one of the most respected students in our community."

Emily Steinebrey

Emily Steinebrey, Palatine High School

Hometown: Palatine

Parents: James and Heather Steinebrey

Sponsor: Craig W. Barnes Jr., mathematics department chairman

GPA: 5.191 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1560

Planned major: Computer science and mathematics

Awards, honors: Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award; Math Team regionals third place individual written contest; National AP Scholar

Personal statement: "Math is a great passion of mine, and I have competed on the math team each year. At regionals, I was third in the individual written competition and third in the two-person competition as a junior and senior. I have also progressed to state with the team each year, where we placed in the top 15."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Emily consistently masters new topics on a deep conceptual level. She makes sure every nook and cranny of a concept is explored to its fullest extent. No rock will be unturned and every layer will be discovered. She demonstrates a great ability to form connections intuitively, and always tackles new topics from a conceptual point of view."

Kshitij Vashi

Kshitij Vashi, Schaumburg High School

Hometown: Hoffman Estates

Parents: Digant and Rupendu Vashi

Sponsor: Erika Werlein, counselor

GPA: 5.037 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 2400

Planned major: Economics, government/political science

Awards, honors: National Merit Finalist; National AP Scholar; Presidential Scholars Nominee

Personal statement: "The ideal of the impact investor is something I wish to live up to, utilizing what I learn to assist rather than exploit marginalized communities globally. I seek an economics degree to convert my dreams into praxis, by learning to make wise investments guided by my normative ethical beliefs, while also joining social impact investing groups and nonprofit consulting groups in college to have immediate impact and learn experientially."

Sponsor's endorsement: "According to every teacher I interviewed, they consider Kshitij to be THE most intelligent student they have ever worked with during their careers, ranging from 10-20 years. On a daily basis, Kshitij makes incredibly insightful contributions to discussions and displays great leadership in the classroom."

Grant Whitebloom

Grant Whitebloom, Prospect High School

Hometown: Arlington Heights

Parents: Myles and Karen Whitebloom

Sponsor: Nicholas Olson, counselor

GPA: 5.58 on a weighted 5.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 33

Planned major: Biology, pre-med track

Awards, honors: Nominated for IHSA All-Academic Team, AP Scholar, National Merit commended scholar

Personal statement: "Time management is a critical skill for all students, but especially for those invested in demanding schedules and classes. Coming into high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue my passion for sports while maintaining academic success. Habits that I have developed now will continue to serve me well in future academic endeavors."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Grant is in the top five students that I have ever met. When you meet Grant for the first time, you will immediately notice his humble nature and care for others. Additionally, another side you would see is his competitive nature within academics and athletics. He is a rare student that is remarkable academically, character-wise, and athletically."

Honorable mentions: Northwest Suburban Academic Team, 2016-2017

A big thank you to this year’s Academic Team judges ...

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