DPCF Awarded Five Scholarships to Exceptional College-Bound Students
The Des Plaines Community Foundation awarded five $1,500 scholarships to 2023 Des Plaines college-bound students. This is the 11th year the foundation has offered these scholarships.
The Sadie Rose Argus College Scholarship Awards were named after a 2014 Maine West graduate -- Sadie Rose Argus -- who volunteered hundreds of hours to the Des Plaines Community Foundation.
According to Rosemary Argus, executive director of the foundation, the annual scholarships are available for both two-year and four-year college students starting school in the fall of 2023.
"The foundation is celebrating an 11-year effort helping young adults obtain a college education and we view it as a sincere investment, not only in the future of our youth, but also in the future of Des Plaines," said Rich Holke, president of the DPCF. "The scholarships will help bring a college degree within reach for students who need it most, especially those who have given back to the community."
The five 2023 Sadie Rose Argus College Scholarship Award winners are: Natalia Barna and Angel Ninan from Maine East High School; Zachary Brzezinski and Meghan Hadfield from Maine West High School; and Anthony Cardia from Elk Grove High School. Each will receive $1,500 toward their college tuition this fall.
The scholarship committee consists of five board members who read all the applications. The board members scored the applications one through five on the compositions and grades. The DPCF scholarship committee trustees who judged the student applications based on strict guidelines and required paperwork are: Rich Holke, Mark Lucaccioni, Chris Hassett, Sandra Hansen and Sherry Gardner.
"Students are required to be Des Plaines residents, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher," said Holke, president of the foundation, who helped the scholarship committee judge the 26 applications. "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 2023 to be eligible," Holke said.
To qualify, students must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. Graduate programs do not qualify.
Here are the details on the five scholarship winners the 2023 Sadie Rose Argus College Scholarship Awards:
• Natalia Barna is a recent graduate from Maine East High School. She will be attending Northwestern University in Evanston, this fall and will be studying chemical engineering and integrated science at the highly regarded university.
"My future plans are to further equitable research and development in pharma-centered biochemical engineering, and open a lab concentrating on tackling rare, neglected disorders," said Barna.
She founded the Maine Township Environmental Coalition (MTEC), an environmental alleviation group that hosts forest, park and campus cleanups. At the beginning MTEC was only at her school district, but now Barna has now expanded the organization to the entire high school district as well as members at sister schools.
"The expansion ensured everyone from the community can be included in the conservation efforts," said Barna. "To date we have collected more than 1,000 pounds of trash."
Barna is also a musician, and she and a friend founded the Cadmus Duo. As freelance musicians, they serve as guest musicians for local orchestras and perform for retirement homes.
"Our payment is not money, but rather the heartwarming feeling that we are brightening peoples' days and contributing to their meaningful memories," said Barna.
She also founded the String Peer Tutoring Program where they help orchestra students hone their skills with free lessons.
• Zachary Brzezinski is attending Oakton College in Des Plaines, this fall. He will be studying automotive mechanics. He is a recent graduate of Maine West High School.
"My personal goal is to have a profession within the trades," said Brzezinski. "I have taken several courses in high school to help me in those career paths like Auto Fundamentals, Auto Service and Building Trades. I hope to get a part-time job or an apprenticeship program."
Brzezinski has been volunteering since he was in grade school.
"I have learned from an early age about giving back to the community and helping others," said Brzezinski. "I also was very involved in elementary school with events like the Holiday Store, or the fall fun fair and even the talent show assisting in setting it up and the cleanup."
Recently, he assisted in the Friends Connect Basketball Tournament, a basketball game in which students with disabilities participate. He helped set up and take down the equipment in storage and cheered on the team.
Brzezinski also helped set up and clean up at the Orchard Place Elementary School Craft/Vendor Fair. He also sorted out parking and gave people information and directions at the fair.
"I have been helping older neighbors as well as my grandfather with yard work, shoveling snow and other chores," he said. "I think it is important to help our neighbors and my elders. My family has instilled in me to give back to the community."
• Anthony Cardia recently graduated from Elk Grove High School. He will attend Elmhurst University in Elmhurst. He plans to enter the cybersecurity bachelor's program.
"It has been my dream for as long as I can remember to become a cybersecurity technion and hopefully work for the National Security Administration one day," said Cardia.
Cardia is strongly connected to his community and his neighborhood. During the pandemic he became much more involved with his neighbors' known as the "It guy" helping families connect via the internet, order groceries, and even work from home.
He distributed masks, picked up and dropped off necessities at their door and helped anyway possible.
Cardia donates his time to many organizations in his community including school-organized community service opportunities such as the League of Women's voters, Feed My Starving Children, local pet shelters, and Garden for the Hungry.
He tutored younger classmen and was also a lifeguard for the Des Plaines Park District at Mystic Waters.
"My work and community service experience have been crucial to my character and people skills and will serve me throughout college and my career," he said.
• Meghan Hadfield is attending North Park University in Chicago, and will be studying pre-occupational therapy.
She graduated from Maine West High School a semester early.
"When I was little, I always knew I was going to make a difference in my community, especially among younger children," said Meghan Hadfield. "After shadowing an occupational therapist, I fell in love with the career and it's now my goal to become an OT within a therapeutic day school for people with intellectual disabilities," she said.
Hadfield also set personal goals for herself to achieve her undergraduate degree with little to no student debt. She worked three jobs during high school and achieved good grades.
She works as a receptionist at a salon in Park Ridge, the head cashier at Pesche's garden Center in Des Plaines and babysits in her spare time. It is important that she affords her own things and understand the value of every dollar, she said.
Hadfield volunteers at organizations like Border Tails Animal Rescue and Feed My Starving Children.
• Angel Ninan is attending DePaul University in Chicago. She plans to study health science, premed. She recently graduated from Maine East High School.
According to Ninan, she plans to prepare herself academically and professionally to be the best candidate for DePaul's 3+4 accelerated Allopathic Medicine Program.
"As a Pathway honors student at DePaul University, I will have the opportunity to have a head start on my medical degree journey, studying at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and soon medically serve and educate my community as a cardiologist," said Ninan.
Ninan is a National Community Service Ambassador Award recipient given by the United Nations Association of the USA. She has a total of 156.63 hours of community service.
Much of her service hours have been done through her high school's National Honors Society chapter. She volunteers at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Cardiac Telemetry Nurses Unit.
She also volunteers through her church, St. Mary's Syro Malankara Catholic Church, and is part of he Malankara Catholic Youth Movement (MCYM) since 2019. For the 2022-2023 term, she served as the treasurer on behalf of MCYM in the Chicago Diocese.
She oversaw expenses for many events including Easter bake sale, Youth Field Day, Malankara Madness Basketball Tournament, and a charity drive.
"My charitable acts have helped me to build the core values that a successful physician would need like empathy, good communication/listening, problem-solving, collaboration and persistence in advocating for others," said Ninan.
The Des Community 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 that live and work in Des Plaines. Some of the programs include Neighbors Helping Neighbors program committee; Healthy Community/Healthy Youth program committee; Intergenerational 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 the foundation website www.desplainescommunityfoundation.org, or call Rosemary Argus at (847) 525-5566.