Des Plaines Community Foundation awards scholarships
The Des Plaines Community Foundation awarded four $1,500 scholarships and a $1,000 scholarship to 2020 Des Plaines college-bound students. This is the eighth year the foundation has offered scholarships.
According to Rosemary Argus, executive director of the, Des Plaines Community Foundation, the annual scholarships are available for both two-year and four-year college students starting school in 2020.
"We believe that helping our young adults obtain a college education is an investment, not only in the future of our youth, but also in the future of Des Plaines," said Argus. "The scholarships will help bring a college degree within reach for students who need it most."
This year, all of the Des Plaines Community Foundation scholarships were renamed by the foundation board. Henceforth, all scholarships will be Sadie Rose Argus College Scholarship Awards, named after a 2014 Maine West graduate, Sadie Rose Argus, who volunteered hundreds of hours to the Des Plaines Community Foundation.
The four 2020 Sadie Rose Argus College Scholarship Award winners are: Ashley Cruz from Maine West High School; Isabella Garcia from Maine East High School; David Villegas from Elk Grove High School; and Michael Jekot of Notre Dame College Prep High School.
Each will receive $1,500 toward their college tuition.
The scholarship committee consists of five board members who read all 19 applications. The board members scored the applications one through five on the compositions and grades. Scores are tabulated and the top four scores win scholarships.
In addition, a fifth and special award called the Sadie Rose Argus Leadership Award was given to Lacey Belle Argus. It is a distinctive award in that it is not given every year.
The winner receives $1,000 toward college tuition. It recognizes a student who has given many volunteer hours to Des Plaines Community Foundation programs.
Lacey has volunteered more than six years of service to the foundation's programs in an effort to support the city's elderly, disabled and poor. She has helped in different ways to assist elderly people in need of household and community support by working on intergenerational programs.
Lacey has worked several times with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the United Airlines' Fantasy Flight at O'Hare International Airport, helping to construct and serve within a winter wonderland for children afflicted by illness, poverty and special needs.
For the past several years, Lacey has also helped to pack, organize and deliver Thanksgiving Day meals for the homebound. She has served with Habitat for Humanity six times over the past 12 years.
At Maine West High School, Lacey has mentored students, helped to plan and host Special Education proms and rallied teams of students to write thank-you letters to our military for USA Help Troops and more.
She also has worked with the Youth Commission on motivational/leadership meetings for Maine West students, as well as planning and hosting family nights at Prairie Lakes. She has spent countless hours working with the Des Plaines Community Foundation to help unite and support the residents of Des Plaines.
Lacey attended Maine West High School and has been accepted to Loyola Marymount University in California, where she will major in English studies with a minor in high school education. The $1,000 will be applied to her tuition.
The 2020 Sadie Rose Argus College Scholarship Award winners:
• Ashley Cruz, a Maine West High School graduate, plans to attend University of Illinois at Chicago and major in pre-nursing with the intention of becoming a neonatal/pediatric nurse and later applying for physician assistant school, specializing in child care. In addition, she will minor in Spanish to expand her learning vocabulary and learn medical terms to simplify them for patients.
Service to others and volunteerism has been a part of Ashley's life from a very young age. Her sister helped her to sign up to volunteer at the Des Plaines Public Library when she graduated eighth grade.
Speaking and explaining in Spanish at the library brought a sense of confidence and she discovered a passion for translating. At Maine West High School, she accepted a position her senior year to be an ESL tutor in the mornings. Both volunteering positions prepared her for the future. She wanted to make a bigger impact by learning more languages in college in order to extend her help toward others and bring the same relief to parents in a hospital setting.
• Isabella Garcia, a Maine East High School graduate, will be attending Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington and will be studying nursing.
"Nursing will not only allow me to make meaningful connections, but will also allow me to leave a positive impact on those I meet, which is the greatest goal and reward," she said.
Some of Isabella's community service experiences include volunteering at Hephzibah Children's Home in Oak Park, preparing and serving dinners for the kids. She also spent many hours at the library for the annual Maker Fest organizing books in the Teen Underground and setting up literature displays. She also organized books at Bernie's Book Bank.
She enjoys volunteering at Bessie's Table, where they serve dinners to the local community. She also assisted with the Community Garage Sale at Maine Township Hall and worked with her peers organizing the food pantry. She also volunteered at Feed My Starving Children with her school and family.
Isabella also volunteered at the concession stand at school, helping the Athletic Boosters as well as the National Honor Society with events such as RAK week, Haunted Hallways, Food Drive and Battle of the Brains. She also volunteered within Maine East at the Kids' Closet, a program that offers students free clothes.
• David Villegas, an Elk Grove High School graduate, will be attending Michigan State University and pursuing a degree in biology.
"I am really excited about attending Michigan State University for several reasons, one of which being that I was named a Mowbray Scholar, which encourages international enrichment," said Villegas. "The Mowbray Scholars Program at Michigan State University helps prepare some of the nation's finest undergraduate students for successful lives and careers."
At a young age, David started a nonprofit organization alongside his sister setting up clubs like Student Ambassador and Best Buddies. The organization his sister and he founded raised money for Shriners Hospital Chicago.
"The idea to fundraise for Shriners Hospital came from my young sister who has been diagnosed with an extremely rare medical condition, which has resulted in her being wheelchair bound with chronic pain," said Villegas. "My sister wanted to help those that were less fortunate than her. Shriners Hospital recognized our efforts by inscribing our nonprofit in the Gold Book at the Chicago location."
Recently, David was interviewed for a short film documentary on his sister's condition.
David also participated in the Student Ambassador program at his school, which involves helping transfer students in their transition to a new school and, oftentimes, it involves communicating in a different language.
Best Buddies is a program that aims to be more inclusive and foster one to one relationships with physically and mentally disabled students.
Biology has piqued David's interest from large mammals to the complexity of microorganisms. He would like to pursue a career in microbiology because of his sister's condition. It has inspired him to learn more about cells and cell structures and how DNA works.
• Michael Jekot plans to attend Notre Dame University in Indiana to study economics and business. He recently graduated from Notre Dame College Prep High School.
Michael has been involved in a multitude of service opportunities that have opened his eyes to the needs of the world. He has been involved in his school's Burkes Buddy Program, where the students assist classmates with severe cognitive disabilities. He also volunteered as president of the National Honor Society and ran a schoolwide collection of toys for the Adopt-A-Kid program that benefited low-income families with extra Christmas presents.
Michael is most proud of his service project from last year through his AP Language class. He was the project manager. He proposed a schoolwide canned food drive to stock the shelves of the Catholic Charities Food Pantry in Des Plaines. They also coordinated with local businesses who provided a small reward for the top donating homeroom for each school.
"We were able to donate 1,200 food items to the Catholic Charities Food Pantry," he said.
Michael plans to study economics and business, but his overreaching goal is to continue to be a positive instrument for change in the world by improving the lives around him.
The Des Plaines Community Foundation scholarship committee trustees are Rich Holke, Mark Lucaccioni, Chris Hassett, Sandra Hansen and Sherry Gardner. They judged the student applications based on strict guidelines and required paperwork.
"Students are required to be Des Plaines residents, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher," said Lucaccioni, vice president of the foundation. "High school seniors must be in the process of applying to or enrolled in an accredited undergraduate program at college, university, or vocational/technical institution during the fall semester of 2020 to be eligible."
To qualify, students must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. Graduate programs do not qualify.
The foundation raises funds to identify, link and mobilize assets to support the service programs of the Des Plaines Healthy Community Partnership Programs whose activities improve the lives of those who live and work in Des Plaines. Some of the programs include: Neighbors Helping Neighbors Program committee; Healthy Community/Healthy Youth Program committee; Inter generational Program committee; and Seasons of Service Program committee.
The foundation has no paid employees and is 100-percent volunteer. The foundation is a 501c3 organization and funds are obtained from individuals, businesses and corporate tax-deductible contributions, as well as from other foundations. For information, visit www.desplainescommunityfoundation.org or call (847) 525-5566.