DuPage County Leadership Team, 2017-2018
Giovanni Ahern, Benet Academy
Parents: John & Kristen Ahern
Sponsor: Amy Wesley, college counselor
Community service: East Suburban Tutoring Association, founded and served as the CFO of nonprofit group dedicated to donating supplies and academically assisting underprivileged children; KidsMatter Naperville, served on executive junior board and played a role in organizing community events; Transplant Village, helped organize volunteers and run a swim event; Service trip, helped build houses in Guatemala
Personal statement: "The family whose house we were building in Guatemala could barely sit still with excitement. Their gratitude and compassion have imparted on me a deep desire to advance the lives of the less fortunate and to use my resources to elevate those around me to the best of my abilities."
Sponsor's endorsement: "He is perhaps the strongest, most positive, charismatic role model that could possibly be chosen to represent this, or any other, organization. Gio is enthusiastic and engaging and handles his many obligations with a great deal of aplomb."
Jessica Angel, Lake Park High School
Parents: Nestor Angel and Mabel Angel
Sponsor: Elizabeth Bazukas
Community service: Spanish Honors Society, created an English as a Second Language program for parents; Fundación Hogar San Mauricio, conducted activities for orphan children and adults with special needs in Colombia; Spanish Honors Society, mentor and tutor middle school students; American Legion at Roselle Auxiliary Unit 1084, helps organize fundraisers and events
Personal statement: "As president of the Spanish Honors Society, I am creating an ESL program for Hispanic parents at my school. This is something I strongly believe in because I see that there is a disconnect between teachers and parents in terms of communication. So far, we have worked as translators for parents on curriculum night and have been able to show them how to access their child's grades."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I have encountered few students who are as altruistic, well-rounded, and as motivated to make a difference in the world. Jessica doesn't wait for things to happen, she leads by example and makes them happen."
Jaimeson Hamsho, Wheaton North High School
Parents: Eric and Stacia Hamsho
Sponsor: Stephanie Eaton, counselor
Community service: Student Support Military Service Club, organized events to raise funds and donations for troops overseas; Link Crew leader, designed activities to welcome freshmen; tutored freshmen; Operation Christmas Child, packaged gifts sent to kids in Third World countries; Urban Youth Outreach
Personal statement: "I have been blessed with many opportunities to volunteer at my school and in my community, allowing me the privilege of influencing the lives of those I have not met as well as those I interact with daily. Serving others brings me pleasure, whether as a tutor to my peers, leading as vice president of both the Student Council and Military Support Club, or coleading a small group of fellow students in my church youth group."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Jaimeson is an anomaly; he exhibits a maturity far beyond that of a typical high school student; and, yet, possesses the ability to effortlessly relate to and inspire his peers."
Cairo Lawrence, Naperville North High School
Parents: Inell Lawrence and Francis Lawrence
Sponsor: Tracy Goering, math teacher
Community service: Black History Month Showcase; co-director and producer of event for students and community members to share African American History and show their talents; Media-Smart Youth, helped implement the weeklong program for young people; Bridge the Gap, served as a mentor to help junior high students prepare for the transition to high school; World Chicago Youth Diplomats, active member of the youth program dedicated to promoting citizen diplomacy
Personal statement: "Helping others has always brought me a special feeling of happiness and fulfillment. Helping others learn to help themselves, however, has a longer-lasting impact and, therefore, amplifies that feeling of fulfillment immensely."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Cairo has a great work ethic and collaborates extremely well with her peers. In addition, she isn't afraid to get up in front of a room full of her peers and teach them how to do a challenging problem."
Dan McCann, IC Catholic Prep
Parents: Mary and Brian McCann
Sponsor: Donald Moore, theology teacher
Community service: Feed My Starving Children, helped lead an effort to have volunteers from school pack meals; Mission trip to Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota; Habitat for Humanity, traveled to Port Huron, Michigan, to help build a front porch and renovate the back porch of a home; TLC Camp, volunteer; Elmhurst Teen Peer Jury Program, participated in a panel of jurors
Personal statement: "More than anything, however, all of my volunteering and service has instilled in me an inescapable yearning to act with the interest of others in the forefront of my mind. Wanting to help others isn't always easy. However, I have made this my life goal, aligning with the career path I've chosen."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Dan is an outstanding young man. His ability to balance his different roles with his role within his family and community is exceptional. His strive for excellence, respect, and friendship is evident in everything that he does."
Trisha Prabhu, Neuqua Valley High School
Parents: Neel and Bhanu Prabhu
Sponsor: Christopher Ruffolo, counselor
Community service: ReThink, Inc., researched, invented and developed technology to detect and stop cyberbullying proactively and rolled it out as a free product; Invited TED speaker and global anti-cyberbullying advocate; We Are Family Foundation, global teen leader; Girls Who Code, teach and mentor girls to code and innovate; Tyler Clementi Foundation, board member
Personal statement: "I raise awareness about the silent pandemic of cyberbullying by forging partnerships with governmental and socially impactful organizations, while at the same time mastering advanced programming and technology skills. This experience and learning has made me an even better and effective leader. I've also learned to become a global advocate for the silent victims of cyberbullying and their families."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Trisha is a star, literally, among her classmates, and as a good friend of hers who has the highest GPA in the class and a 36 ACT said to me last spring, 'I'm no Trisha.'"
Sanjana Ramrajvel, Naperville Central High School
Parents: Ram Nanjun & Sasi Ramrajvel
Sponsor: Jason Booker, counselor
Community service: Two Girls and a Song, founded nonprofit organization to perform with her sister for free at events for nonprofits; Alive Center, Student Advisory Board member; Argonne National Laboratory, developed a web portal for climate scientists; DuPage Children's Museum play assistant; West Suburban Food Pantry volunteer
Personal statement: "For many high school students, volunteering is a requirement. They see it as a necessity forced upon them, another minimum they must fulfill before graduating. But, for me, community service is an opportunity not only to serve, but also for self-discovery. From libraries to parks and schools, my community has provided me with a lot, and it is my pride and joy to give back."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Sanjana has impressed me most by maintaining a healthy balance between her robust extracurricular schedule and demanding course load. She has flourished under intense pressure and evolved into a confident leader."
Stephanie Tran, Glenbard North High School
Parents: Alicia Lopez
Sponsor: Susanna Melón, dean's department
Community service: Organization of Latin American Students, helped organize fundraisers, meetings, activities for cultural exposure and service projects; Faith Formation in St. Isidore Parish, has led Confirmation retreats and planned activities and meetings for younger students; Link Crew, worked with students during their freshman year in high school
Personal statement: "I have a passion to support students because my own experiences have provided me with individual growth and knowledge that I would like to pass on to other students. I would like to serve as a mentor and example for students who may need support through tutoring, peer advising, and mentoring."
Sponsor's endorsement: "As her student organization sponsor, mentor, dean, and adviser for the past three years, I have had the opportunity and pleasure to see many examples of her talent and have long been impressed by her diligence and work ethic."
Nishant Vyas, Hinsdale Central High School
Hometown: Oak Brook
Parents: Trupti Vyas and Amit Vyas
Sponsor: Gia Georgeow-Maniscalco, counselor
Community service: Let's Play Sports, created nonprofit organization to collect sports equipment in the suburbs and donate them to children in Chicago; Mount Olive Baptist Church, food drive volunteer; Sports Club, hosts various sport tournaments; South Suburban Nursing Home volunteer; Advocate Trinity Hospital volunteer
Personal statement: "My goal for my future is to help others. Using knowledge from the classroom, and from my experiences with my own organization, I hope to continue my efforts in aiding the underserved children in Chicago, venture into new avenues and find other ways to continue to help the community."
Sponsor's endorsement: "A few adjectives that I would use to describe Nishant are determined, caring, observant, compassionate and kind. He will never give up on anything he pursues and is a natural born leader. Whenever he has the opportunity to make a difference in society to help the less fortunate, he does."
Michael Zima, Glenbard South High School
Hometown: Glen Ellyn
Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Tom Zima
Sponsor: Gloria Chapa-Resendez, director of school counseling
Community service: Wheaton Junior Women's Club Buddy Baseball, helped individuals with disabilities play organized sports; DuPage PADS, helped prepare sleeping areas, prepare food and serve food; Exodus World Service Welcome Pack Deliveries, helped collect and deliver items for newly arrived refugees; Kiwanis Key Club, various volunteer events; mission trips
Personal statement: "As I've grown and matured, I've become aware of how fortunate I am. Opportunities to volunteer through my church and schools have shown me a world outside of my privileged bubble. Focusing on compassion, empathetic awareness, and understanding while serving has given me a new outlook on the impact I can make."
Sponsor's endorsement: "He has impressed me with his dedication and work ethic. He is a self-directed and assertive young man who is willing to ask for help and always willing to help others."