DuPage County Academic Team, 2018-2019

  • The 10 members of the 2018-19 DuPage County Academic Team are, from left: Ashwin Saxena, Metea Valley High School; Soomin Kim, Waubonsie Valley High School; Karen Ge, Naperville North High School; Sulaiman Sajed, College Preparatory School of America; Emily Mao, Lisle High School; Sarah Kulkarni, Wheaton Warrenville South High School; Ahalya Lettenberger, Glenbard West High School; Gino Kozel, Benet Academy; Akshay Dugar, Neuqua Valley High School and Alex Trickey, Naperville Central High School.

      The 10 members of the 2018-19 DuPage County Academic Team are, from left: Ashwin Saxena, Metea Valley High School; Soomin Kim, Waubonsie Valley High School; Karen Ge, Naperville North High School; Sulaiman Sajed, College Preparatory School of America; Emily Mao, Lisle High School; Sarah Kulkarni, Wheaton Warrenville South High School; Ahalya Lettenberger, Glenbard West High School; Gino Kozel, Benet Academy; Akshay Dugar, Neuqua Valley High School and Alex Trickey, Naperville Central High School. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 

Akshay Dugar, Neuqua Valley High School
Akshay Dugar, Neuqua Valley High School
Akshay Dugar, Neuqua Valley High School

Hometown: Naperville

Parents: Amit and Meera Dugar

Sponsor: James Fox, math instructor

GPA: 4.40 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1550

Planned major: Mechanical engineering, statistics

Awards, honors: National Merit finalist, honor roll, AP Scholar, Illinois State Scholar, student government/class officer, Indian Prairie Scholar, Mu Alpha Theta inductee, 2017 Summer Illinois Mathematics Program - Problem Solving Award

Personal statement: "My goals for my future career include securing a position as a financial executive while spending extra time using my knowledge to assist my local community. One of my clearest career goals is to start a business that specializes in creating mathematical models for markets that are untapped in the financial world. I know that I would utilize my experience in college to learn everything I need in order to make this dream become a reality."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Akshay has been a leader and role model in the classroom and on the math team. Students look to him for help and Akshay always goes above expectations."

Karen Ge, Naperville North High School
Karen Ge, Naperville North High School -
Karen Ge, Naperville North High School

Hometown: Lisle

Parents: Yi Ge

Sponsor: Vanessa Ramos, teacher

GPA: 4.771 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36

Planned major: Mathematics or computer science

Awards, honors: National Merit finalist, honor roll, National Honor Society, AP Scholar, Presidential Scholar candidate, Illinois State Scholar, 2018 Research Science Institute participant, 2017 Mathematical Olympiad Program

Personal statement: "On a very high level, I want to make the world a better place, just like many other people. While America has grown into a country of thriving businesses and prestigious universities, it is also a country of politically misinformed citizens and rampant inequality. I believe there is still hope, but it rests on our education system, on igniting the passion to learn and discover and create in each person."

Sponsor's endorsement: "I am most certain that Karen will have a significant impact on society. Her diverse interests, her desire to help others, her uncanny ability to interpret others' meaning, and her knowledge strongly suggest that she will create something that will better this world."

Soomin Kim, Waubonsie Valley High School
Soomin Kim, Waubonsie Valley High School
Soomin Kim, Waubonsie Valley High School

Hometown: Aurora

Parents: Sungrae Kim, Hyemee Lee

Sponsor: Karen Kuhlman, counselor

GPA: 4.65 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1570

Planned major: Aerospace engineering

Awards, honors: Honorable Mention at Model United Nations at University of Chicago, National Merit finalist, AP Scholar with Honors, honor roll, Illinois State Scholar, student government

Personal statement: "As Thomas Edison said, 'Failure is the mother of success.' There will be times that I fail to achieve a particular goal in mind, but I will never let them deter me from achieving success. I hope to always come back to what I have learned throughout my years in school and look back at the lessons that I value in order to strive to be a more successful individual."

Sponsor's endorsement: "He is a kind, respectful and organized young man. Soomin has goals for his future endeavors and has reached out to me when needing support or asking questions. He is a dedicated individual who strives to do his best and complete the task at hand."

Gino Kozel, Benet Academy
Gino Kozel, Benet Academy
Gino Kozel, Benet Academy

Hometown: Orland Park

Parents: Edward and Elizabeth Kozel

Sponsor: Laura Lundstrom, counselor

GPA: 4.527 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36

Planned major: Pre-med, chemistry

Awards, honors: National Merit commended scholar, honor roll, National Honor Society, AP Scholar, Presidential Scholar candidate, Illinois State Scholar

Personal statement: "I underwent three corrective eye surgeries in order to have my vision restored ... They (doctors) saved me in every possible sense of the word, and that is what I would like to do for another child like me. My entire life has been oriented around this goal, this desire to one day stand as my doctors did in front of a hurt patient, a person in need of care and comfort, and say to them, 'I can help you.' As a result, my entire academic career has been designed to secure this goal."

Sponsor's endorsement: "At 2 and a half, Gino was already losing his sight. Three surgeries later, Gino sees perfectly with glasses, but takes special steps not to strain his eyes. The silver lining in this is that every time he falls, it makes him want that much more to rise back up and do better."

Sarah Kulkarni, Wheaton Warrenville South High School
Sarah Kulkarni, Wheaton Warrenville South High School
Sarah Kulkarni, Wheaton Warrenville South

Hometown: Wheaton

Parents: Robert and Cynthia Kulkarni

Sponsor: Jillian Nowicki, counselor

GPA: 4.77083 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36

Planned major: Biomedical engineering

Awards, honors: National AP Scholar, Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award, National Merit commended scholar, honor roll, National Honor Society, Illinois State Scholar

Personal statement: "I want to contribute to what I believe will be the most innovative, beneficial, and controversial technologies of this century -- genetic engineering tools like CRISPR-Cas9 -- through research and clinical trials. I cannot wait to explore the complexity of the cellular and genetic worlds in more depth, which I believe can best be accomplished by combining clinical and laboratory work."

Sponsor's endorsement: "I look forward to Sarah's next journey of college. I have seen Sarah grow so much over the past several years, and know she will continue to excel academically as well as giving back to the campus and community. Sarah sets goals high for herself and works hard to make sure she attains those goals."

Ahalya Lettenberger, Glenbard West High School
Ahalya Lettenberger, Glenbard West High School
Ahalya Lettenberger, Glenbard West High School

Hometown: Glen Ellyn

Parents: Thomas & Anna Lettenberger

Sponsor: Chris Lubinecki, retired school counselor

GPA: 5.87 on a weighted 5.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 1580

Planned major: Biomedical engineering

Awards, honors: National Merit finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, Illinois State Scholar, honor roll, National Honor Society, student government

Personal statement: "Traveling the world competing on the U.S. Paralympic Swimming National Team, I have met incredible people who have overcome unimaginable obstacles to reach their goals. Engineering helps my community of people with disabilities to redefine challenges. The notion of developing medical devices that help people with disabilities become more independent and see their impairments as less restrictive makes the future extremely exciting."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Ahalya has an incomparable zest for life and abounding courage to conquer her physical hindrances on a daily basis."

Emily Mao, Lisle High School
Emily Mao, Lisle High School
Emily Mao, Lisle High School

Hometown: Lisle

Parents: Jun Mao and Fan Li

Sponsor: Mark Lascala, science teacher

GPA: 4.5 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1590

Planned major: Double major in business economics and biochemistry

Awards, honors: Presidential Scholar candidate, AP Scholar with Distinction, Scholastic Art Awards, National Merit commended scholar, honor roll, National Honor Society, Illinois State Scholar

Personal statement: "While one of my life goals is to improve myself, my other is to improve the life of others. More specifically, I hope to enhance others' life through a career in the health care industry. To achieve this goal, I have placed an emphasis on mathematics and science, especially biology and chemistry, in high school. My participation and accomplishment in math and science-related competitions has also crafted a strong foundation for my career aspirations."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Emily's academic record speaks for itself, but behind all those high marks is a woman of character and kindness who, at her core, wants to help others. I am giving her my highest recommendation."

Sulaiman Sajed, College Preparatory School of America
Sulaiman Sajed, College Preparatory School of America
Sulaiman Mohammad Sajed, College Preparatory School of America

Hometown: Glen Ellyn

Parents: Dr. Mohammad Sajed and Dr. Naoshiba Sajid

Sponsor: Samah Elzahdan

GPA: 4.44 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 35; SAT: 1550

Planned major: Medical science

Awards, honors: Best Student of the Year, National Merit finalist, Gold Honor Roll, National Honor Society, AP Scholar, Illinois State Scholar

Personal statement: "When I was younger, my parents, who are both doctors, would take me to the hospital to watch them work. While their jargon went over my head, I could see the passion they had for treating patients."

Sponsor's endorsement: "He is focused, reliable, humble, and a true humanitarian, and he is only a high school student. I cannot begin to imagine the greatness that will come from him as an adult. He knows what he wants in life and is working very hard to achieve his goals."

Ashwin Saxena, Metea Valley High School
Ashwin Saxena, Metea Valley High School
Ashwin Saxena, Metea Valley High School

Hometown: Aurora

Parents: Alind Saxena and Priya Saxena

Sponsor: John Riddle, teacher

GPA: 4.57 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1560

Planned major: Computer science

Awards, honors: National Merit commended scholar, honor roll, AP Scholar, Illinois State Scholar, USA Computing Olympiad gold division finalist (2017), USA Chemistry Olympiad national finalist (2018)

Personal statement: "The world is much larger than we realize, and many of its people are struggling to combat complex problems that require complex solutions. The service- and green-based approach to engineering that I have worked to cultivate through these experiences will compel me to think from multiple perspectives, ensuring that I approach tasks at hand not only through an engineer's lens, but also with an environmentalist's eye and a humanitarian's point of view."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Ashwin is going to be successful wherever he goes to college and will continue that success afterward. Indeed, his resume already shows that he has had success in upper-level college math classes."

Alex Trickey, Naperville Central High School
Alex Trickey, Naperville Central High School
Alex Trickey, Naperville Central High School

Hometown: Naperville

Parents: Aaron Trickey and Hemi Trickey

Sponsor: Michelle Kirincich, counselor

GPA: 4.714 on a weighted 4.0 scale

Test scores: ACT: 36; SAT: 1560

Planned major: Biology

Awards, honors: National AP Scholar, National Merit finalist, honor roll, National Honor Society, Illinois State Scholar

Personal statement: "As I look toward college, I know that I want to major in biology. Allergies haven't had a major impact on my life for the 18 years I've lived it, but they have impacted my grandmother's for the majority of hers. Although so far I've spent my school years doing classwork and joining clubs that are not entirely focused on microbiology, they have all given me the tools I'll need to take the next step forward in the subject."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Alex is a mature and kind young man. He carries himself with integrity and confidence. Alex appreciates challenge as opportunity. Alex has a strong sense of self and is ready to move on to the opportunities of a university so that he may pursue his visions of himself for the future."

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