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2020 Outstanding Grads: Salute Michigan’s top students

The Detroit News

For 34 years, The News has saluted a group of Michigan’s best and brightest high school students in the spring of their senior year.

Partnering with CATCH — Sparky Anderson’s Charity for Children — we call it the Outstanding Graduates program.

It is an honor to share the stories of these remarkable young people and to consider that Michigan will benefit from their future endeavors, and the endeavors of so many of their friends and classmates.

The top seniors were chosen from a field of outstanding nominees. Public and private high schools in Michigan were invited to nominate students in each of 11 categories. Students were selected on the basis of grades, test scores, honors, community involvement and a demonstrated ability in one of the academic areas. In a special category called “Against All Odds” students were recognized for succeeding despite a physical hardship or special, personal or family challenges.

Final selections were made by panels of judges that included teachers, counselors and other academic specialists. The judges told us of their high regard for the many nominees and the difficulty in narrowing their choices.

Our thanks go to all of the principals, counselors and teachers who took time to nominate these students. Thanks also go to the judges who spent many hours selecting the finalists.

This is the 35th class of outstanding high school graduates honored by The News. Many of our early nominees are now well established in successful careers and raising children who may well be honored themselves someday soon. We salute their special achievements and extend congratulations to all of Michigan’s graduating seniors in the class of 2020.

Sincerely,

Gary Miles

Editor and Publisher

Against all odds

Milisa Carter

Milisa Carter

High school: River Rouge

GPA: 4.0

Parents/guardians: Lisa Johnson

College I plan to attend: University of Michigan

Major: Neuroscience

Career plans: Neurosurgeon

Most influential teacher: I cannot choose one teacher because I have had several who were influential in my life.

Most important achievements:

  • 4.0 GPA throughout academic career
  • Graduating at the top of my class
  • Being accepted into University of Michigan
  • Being elected into the National Honor Society

A quote about myself: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi

Sponsor: Arrow Strategies

Immanuel Luster-Bey

Immanuel Luster-Bey

High school: Clintondale 

GPA: 4.18

Parents/guardians: Derrick Luster

College I plan to attend: Enlisting in the U.S. Navy

Major: Electrical engineering

Career plans: After my time in the Navy I would continue pursuing my career as an electrical engineer, or I would go to college to eventually become a school counselor.

Most influential teacher: Courtney Carroll

Most important achievements:

  • Graduating with over a 4.0 in the top 5% of my graduating class
  • Getting accepted to the National Honors Society
  • Enlisting in the U.S. Navy
  • Overcoming all of the obstacles life threw at me
  • 2019 MHSAA District Champions in basketball
  • Qualifying for the state track meet in 2019 for the 4x800 and 4x400 relays
  • Receiving Scholar Athlete Awards for basketball, football and baseball. (All four years of high school)
  • Winning best in robotics for the WDIV Fall Fan 4Frenzy
  • Chosen for Next Level Scholars

A quote about myself: “Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” — Unknown

Sponsor: Arrow Strategies

Daniel Nadolski

Daniel Nadolski

High school: North Branch

GPA: 3.9

Parents/guardians: Peggy Nadolski

College I plan to attend: Grand Valley State University

Major: Math

Career plans: Get a job at any grocery store

Most influential teacher: Mrs. Welling

Most important achievements:

  • Good grades
  • Coming to school every day
  • Helping people
  • Getting help from teachers
  • Being in peer-to-peer program
  • Making new friends
  • Improve my writing
  • Being on the high school bowling team
  • Doing things on my own

A quote about myself: “Take everything one step at a time”

Sponsor: Arrow Strategies

Angelina Zebari

Angelina Zebari

High school:_Henry Ford II

GPA: 3.18

Parents/guardians: George and Jamie Zebari

College I plan to attend: Oakland University

Major: Early childhood education

Career plans: Elementary education

Most influential teacher: Karen Chaffee

Most important achievements:

  • Teaching a full day by myself at a high school level
  • Helping to successfully run child care nights at elementary schools
  • Assisting in the hearing impaired classroom at Dresden Elementary
  • Head of Future Educators at Dresden Elementary
  • Accepted into Oakland University
  • Varsity soccer at Henry Ford II
  • Running Future Educators apparel for four high schools
  • Being able to return from homeschool to regular high school
  • Being able to completely turn my grades around from when I was sick
  • Pushing myself to receive proper treatment

A quote about myself: “I’m very thankful for the opportunities that I was given these last four years, as well as the challenges I experienced. I was very blessed to have the opportunity to work with such dedicated teachers over the past two years who have truly shown me the influence that teaching has on future generations.”

Sponsor: Arrow Strategies

Runners-up: Tyler Austin, Madeline Jagoda, Landon Young, Noora Tomi, Brianna Puffer, Kate Dawson, Ella Erskine, Isabel Wallace

Judges: Gail Strickland, director of special services, Westwood Community School District / Kimberly Sams-Smith, freelance journalist

Athletics

Hunter Assenmacher

Hunter Assenmacher

High school: Ida 

GPA: 3.97

Parents/guardians: Scott and Kari Assenmacher

College I plan to attend: Lawrence Technological University

Major: Architectural engineering

Career plans: Graduate with master’s degree and job through internships, eventually pass the Architect Registration Exam and possibly start own firm

Most influential teacher: Mr. Rathke — Physics, Physics 2 and calculus

Most important achievements:

  • MHSAA Scholar-Athlete Award/Scholarship Recipient
  • MHSAA Division 3 Wrestling state champion (2018, 2019, 2020)
  • MHSAA Division 3 Cross Country state qualifier (2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Monroe County 2020 Wrestler of the Year
  • Monroe County 2019 Runner of the Year
  • MHSAA Division 3 Cross Country regional champion (2019)
  • MHSAA First Team All League and District pitcher (2019)
  • Ida High School Class of 2020 Top Ten
  • National Honor Society member
  • MHSAA Division 3 Wrestling state runner-Up (2017)

A quote about myself: “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” — Pelé

Sponsor: Detroit Lions

Clare McNamara

Clare McNamara

High school: Northville 

GPA: 3.94

Parents/guardians: Jackie Agius and Michael McNamara

College I plan to attend: University of Michigan

Major: Psychology or sports medicine

Career plans: Go into physical therapy or athletic training

Most influential teacher: Mr. Kostrzewa

Most important achievements:

  • Long jump state champion (2018)
  • 400-meter dash state runner-up (2018)
  • Volleyball 3rd Team All-State (2018)
  • Field events MVP (2017)
  • Rookie of the year (2017)
  • Sprints MVP (2018)
  • Volleyball Honorable Mention All-State (2017)
  • 4x400-meter relay state runner-up (2018)
  • KLAA Scholar Athlete
  • Academic Excellence Award

A quote about myself: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Sponsor: Detroit Lions

Runners-up: Cedric Dortch, Dylan Rakoczy, Sarah Tyrrell, Eleanor Kendell

Judge: James Russ, sports editor, The Detroit News

Health

Tressa Parker

Tressa Parker

High school: Oakland Early College

GPA: 4.01

Parents/guardians: Sharon and Russ Parker

College I plan to attend: Grand Valley State University, Frederik Meijer Honors College

Major: Biomedical sciences

Career plans: Neurosurgeon or neonatal surgeon

Most influential teacher: Lisa Maddalena, 13th seminar

Most important achievements:

  • Graduating from Oakland Community College with two associate’s degrees with high honors
  • Highest honors at Oakland Early College
  • Vice president of service of Oakland Early College HOSA
  • Two-year Oakland Early College National Honor Society member
  • Four-year Oakland Early College student government member
  • Internship through the American Red Cross
  • Working as a volunteer researcher at Wayne State University School of Medicine
  • Awarded first place in Healthy Lifestyle event at the HOSA State Leadership Conference
  • Grand Valley State University Faculty scholarship and award for excellence
  • Caring for my mother through her leukemia treatment

A quote about myself: “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest to you.” — Mother Teresa

Sponsor: Henry Ford Health Systems

Lindsay Syma

Lindsay Syma

High school: Alpena 

GPA: 4.047

Parents/guardians: Thomas and Lisa Syma

College I plan to attend: Saginaw Valley State University

Major: Nursing

Career plans: Nurse practitioner

Most influential teacher: Jennifer Spomer

Most important achievements:

  • Top 10% of Alpena High School’s class of 2020
  • Senior Scholastic Award for health care occupations
  • Alpena Rotary Club Student of the Month
  • Freshman Direct Admit Student for Nursing at SVSU
  • Academic Excellence in AP Language and Composition, Peer to Peer, college prep writing, chemistry and economics
  • Top Cat Award
  • NHS member
  • Honor Roll for four years
  • Working with students who have autism in the Peer to Peer program
  • Volunteering for seven months in the Memory Care Unit at a local assisted living facility

A quote about myself: “A negative mind will never give you a positive life” — Unknown

Sponsor: Children's Hospital

Runners-up: Katherine Heath, Kate George, Suda Lynch, Kaylee Sutliff 

Judge: Dr. Van Momon, division head, pediatrics, Henry Ford Health System

Journalism

Shreya Chalasani

Shreya Chalasani

High school: Detroit Country Day 

GPA: 3.91

Parents/guardians: Sucharitha and Srikanth Chalasani

College I plan to attend: University of Michigan

Major: Biology

Career plans: Go to medical school and pursue a career as a pediatric oncologist

Most influential teacher: Jessica Salamin

Most important achievements:

  • Editor-in-chief of the Day Times, school newspaper
  • Recipient of the Princeton Book Award
  • Member of the National Cum Laude Society
  • Founder and president of my school’s GIDAS Chapter, a genetic research club.
  • Recognized by the State of Michigan Interscholastic Forensics Association as state champion
  • Runner-up in the category “Storytelling”
  • Recipient of the Regional Stockholm Junior Water Prize for “Water-Related Science Research Project”
  • Recognized by the District of Michigan School Choral Association as a First Division recipient at the district and state levels
  • Member of the varsity golf team that was recognized as the regional champion
  • Coordinated multiple fundraisers to get over 10,000 sanitary napkins for women in Detroit area homeless shelters
  • Recipient of the Michigan-India Talented Youth Award

A quote about myself: “I’ve learned how important it is to choose activities and classes you are passionate about. When you do this, it won’t feel like a burden; it will be fun, and you will automatically be more engaged.”

Sponsor: The Detroit News

Julie Heng

Julie Heng

High school: Huron 

GPA: 3.986

Parents/guardians: J. Christine Ye, Henry Heng

College I plan to attend: Harvard University

Major: Biology and philosophy

Career plans: Education

Most influential teacher: Sara-Beth Badalamente and Andrew Face

Most important achievements:

  • Journalist of the Year National Runner-Up, Michigan Journalist of the Year
  • Mock trial co-captain, led team to 2nd place Michigan Mock Trial tournament ranking
  • National Honor Society chapter president
  • Editor-in-chief of school newspaper, which won a 4th place national ranking
  • Wrote several pieces as a Detroit Free Press apprentice; one ran on front page
  • Several national journalism awards, including Scholastic Art and Writing National Gold Medal in Journalism and National Scholastic Press Association Sports Story of the Year Honorable Mention
  • M3 Math Modeling Challenge national finalist
  • National Merit finalist
  • Ann Arbor Community Foundation Youth Council member
  • Nominated as Freeman Environmental Center Committee member to develop new district environmental curriculum

A quote about myself: “I want to be a part of something good.”

Sponsor: Michigan.com

Runners-up: Syeda Rizvi, Imran Siddiqui, Victoranna Beels, Nathan Eccles 

Judge: Walter Middlebrook, freelance journalist

Language arts

Parker Alexander Mathena

Parker Alexander Mathena

High school: Summit Academy North 

GPA: 4.388

Parents/guardians: Russel A. and Shannon R. Mathena

College I plan to attend: University of Michigan

Major: Mechanical engineering

Career plans: Become a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur

Most influential teacher: Brian Charlefour

Most important achievements:

  • Three-year captain of school varsity soccer team
  • Graduating valedictorian of my class
  • Getting a 1480 on the SAT, with 790 in math
  • Traveling to seven other countries
  • Getting accepted to the University of Michigan and Georgia Tech
  • Getting accepted to the Honors College at Purdue
  • Participating in the SCEEP summer program at the University of Michigan
  • Head coach of the Lil’ Dragons soccer program
  • Making varsity soccer team as a freshman
  • Officer in both NHS and student council

A quote about myself: “I have found Parker to be a dynamic individual with an absolute zeal for life. He persistently seeks growth and takes the initiative as a student. He validates his adoration for education in his fashion of studies and also in his mannerisms. It is, in my opinion, that Parker is the ideal student, and it has been an honor to be his mentor.” — Angela Becker-Harmon

Sponsor: Gary Torgow

Natalie Boehmer

Natalie Boehmer

High school: Grosse Pointe South

GPA: 4.3658

Parents/guardians: Paul and Susan Boehmer

College I plan to attend: University of Toronto

Major: English literature

Career plans: High school teacher or college professor

Most influential teacher: Danielle Peck and Harry Campion

Most important achievements:

  • Founder and president of school’s Shakespeare Club.
  • Finalist at the ESU’s Shakespeare Monologue Contest regional competition in Cleveland, 2020.
  • Coordinated, abridged and acted in school’s production of “Twelfth Night” in 2019.
  • Member of Girl Scout Troop #327 Mackinac Island Governor’s Honor Guard
  • Placed third in the MSCI’s poetry slam event on Mackinac Island in 2019.
  • Had poetry published in variety of local, state and national publications.
  • Orchestra historian for school’s Tri-M Honors Society
  • Member of the National Honors Society and Spanish Honors Societyl
  • Earned a gold medal for the National Spanish Exam in 2018 and 2019.
  • GPA of a 4.0 or higher for all four years of high school.

A quote about myself: “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” — Hamlet IV.v.48-49, William Shakespeare

Sponsor: David Provost

Runners-up: Bryce Murray, Anushri Radhakrishman, Hannah Killingbeck, Elizabeth Hovest 

Judge: Mary M. Hall-Rayford, adjunct professor for WCCCD

Mathematics

Kevin Zhiyang Zhou

Kevin Zhiyang Zhou

High school: Troy

GPA: 4.3721

Parents/guardians: Xia Chen, Xiao Zhou

College I plan to attend: Undecided

Major: Computer science

Career plans: Undecided

Most influential teacher: Jennifer Opalewski (English) and Diane Loucks (Math)

Most important achievements:

  • Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2019 finalist
  • 3-time American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) qualifier
  • 4-time Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition (MMPC) Top 100
  • Various Top 3 placements at the Science Olympiad Michigan State Tournament
  • 2nd place in the Division 1 AAPT Physics Bowl
  • 6th place in Medical Math at the Michigan HOSA State Conference
  • Top 10 team in the Washington University in St. Louis Chemistry Tournament (WUCT)
  • 2019 President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) Silver (175+ hours)
  • Second chair cellist for the Troy High Symphony Orchestra with state recognition
  • University of Michigan — Ann Arbor Stamps Scholar

A quote about myself: “A man, though wise, should never be ashamed of learning more, and must not be too rigid.” — Antigone, Sophocles

Sponsor: TCF Bank

Jason Zeng

Jason Zeng

High school: Detroit Country Day

GPA: 3.96

Parents/guardians: Yiding Zeng and Kailian Lei

College I plan to attend: University of Michigan

Major: Electrical engineering

Career plans: Undecided

Most influential teacher: Mr. Arseneau

Most important achievements:

  • 4-time AIME Qualifier
  • Rensselaer Medal Award (2019)
  • Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award (2019)
  • Rho Khappa Inductee (2019)
  • MMPC Top 100 (2017-2019)
  • Science Olympiad Junta Member (2017-20): 1st Place in Fermi Questions, 2nd Place in Sounds of Music
  • International Music Competition “Paris and London” Grand Prize Virtuoso — First Prize winner (2020)
  • Metropolitan Detroit Musicians League — Honorable Mention (2019)
  • American Protégé — Honorable Winner (2020)

A quote about myself: “There is no greater path to mediocrity in life than trying to be realistic.” — Sean Plott

Sponsor: AAA

Runners-up: Immanuel Luster-Bey, Audry Rakozy, Elena Axinn, Madison Forstner 

Judge: Marianne Srock, mathematics consultant, Macomb Intermediate School District 

Performing arts

Melissa Haubert

Melissa Haubert

High school: Grosse Pointe North

GPA: 4.17

College I plan to attend: Western Michigan University

Major: Music education

Career plans: High school or collegiate choir director

Most influential teacher: Benjamin Henri

Most important achievements:

  • Mirabai Young Scholar 2019, attended the annual Choral Music Education Institute at Michigan State University, had the opportunity to conduct Michigan State’s Youth Choir (one of eight nationally selected)
  • MSVMA-perfect score (2020) (vocal solo)
  • Played Maria in Grosse Pointe North High School’s production of “The Sound of Music”
  •  MMF Grosse Pointe Piano Festival — received perfect (100) scores in piano solos in 2020, 2019, 2017, with superior ratings every year since 2010
  • Maintained a 4.0+ GPA every year of high school
  • Section leader of violas in Grosse Pointe North’s Symphony Orchestra
  • Received “Superior” (1) ratings at every MSVMA since 2017 for vocal solos
  • Member of Blue Lake Fine Art Camp’s Chamber Choir, summers of 2018 and 2019
  • NHS member

A quote about myself: “My goal in life is to show the world the power of music, and how it can positively impact the world in ways that we haven’t yet discovered.”

Sponsor: Sandy Kuohn

Ian Plansker

Ian Plansker

High school: Grosse Pointe South

GPA: 4.09

College I plan to attend: McGill University

Major: Harpsichord and baroque flute performance

Career plans: My primary career plan rests in the founding of a period opera company that specializes in the performance and promotion of newly composed operas in a synthesis of historical styles designed for a modern audience.

Most influential teacher: James Gross

Most important achievements:

  • Compositions performed across North America by groups such as the Toronto Chamber Choir and Grosse Pointe Symphony
  • Composition and performance of an English baroque style opera for Oberlin Conservatory in the summer of 2019
  • Achievement of first-degree black belt in the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do
  • Participation in the Michigan All-State Ensembles and the Michigan Youth Arts Festival Ensembles for two years on flute and piccolo
  • First prize in the Tuesday Musicale of Detroit’s Student League Competition for three consecutive years
  • Solo performances on flute and harpsichord with the Grosse Pointe and Macomb symphony orchestras
  • Work on the professional elementary syllabus of the Cecchetti ballet method
  • Participation in the Michigan Honors Composition Concert for four consecutive years
  • Ranking in the top 30 teams at the 2019 NAQT national championships for high school quiz bowl
  • Solo concerts and historical flute demonstrations at the Scarab Club of Detroit

A quote about myself: “In my career, I plan to do nothing less than convince a willing audience of a new kind of classical music built upon the successes of the past and the desires of the present.”

Sponsor: The Detroit News

Runners-up: Joshua Balogh, Monica Ruiz, Kendall Ash, Srihari Ganesh 

Judge: Charles Bullard, executive director, Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association

Science

Mya Manning

Mya Manning

High school: Churchill

GPA: 4.45

Parents/guardians: Trina Manning

College I plan to attend: Wayne State University

Major: Undecided

Career plans: Nursing

Most influential teacher: Andrew Jones

Most important achievements:

  • AP Scholar with Distinction
  • Made it to part two of the Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition
  • Earned an Academic Letter
  • Award of Excellence in AP Physics C: Mechanics
  • Award of Excellence in Accelerated Algebra 2
  • Award of Excellence in AP Calculus BC
  • Earned SAT Score in the 98th percentile
  • Reached Honor Roll for all of academic career
  • Made it into Churchill’s Math Science and Computer Program
  • Scored a 5 on the AP Computer Science A exam

A quote about myself: “I am the physical embodiment of Dory’s signature catchphrase: Just keep swimming.”

Sponsor: Delta Dental

Alexander Scovill

Alexander Scovill

High school: Perry

GPA: 3.698

Parents/guardians: Karen and Charles Scovill

College I plan to attend: Michigan State University, then transfer to Kansas State University

Major: Agriculture, food and natural resources education

Career plans: Work as a high school agriscience teacher and FFA adviser, and raise club lambs

Most influential teacher: My agriscience teacher and FFA adviser, Juliana Forbush

Most important achievements:

  • 2020-21 Michigan FFA state president
  • 2018 National FFA Agriscience Fair 3rd Place Gold
  • 2018 Michigan FFA Agriscience Fair state winner
  • 2019 Michigan FFA Agriscience Fair state winner
  • 2019 and 2020 Michigan Farm Bureau State Discussion Meet runner-Up
  • 2019 All American Jr. Sheep Show Intermediate Skill-a-thon winner
  • 2018 Shiawassee County Fair Grand Champion Pen of Market Lambs
  • 2018 Michigan State Block and Bridle Livestock Judging Contest 1st place senior team
  • 2019 Michigan FFA Prepared Public Speaking state runner-Up
  • 2020-21 Michigan Sheep Producers Association Board of Directors member

A quote about myself: “Anything worth doing is going to make you a little nervous.” — Daniel Kiesling

Sponsor: Wolverine Solutions Group

Runners-up: Nikhil Mantena, Alexander Bower, Claudia Phillips, Parker Mathena 

Judge: Michael Klein, president, Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA)

Visual arts

William Jones

William Jones

High school: Shrine Catholic

GPA: 4.4

Parents/guardians: Rick and Cathy Jones

College you plan to attend: Parsons School of Design

Major: Fashion design and environmental studies

Career plans: Work in the fashion industry, implementing sustainability in the way we manufacture clothing.

Most influential teacher: Mrs. Laidlaw (art)

Most important achievements:

  • 2020 National Scholastic Gold Medal for fashion
  • Top 18/Governor’s Traveling Show at Michigan Youth Arts Festival 2019 for photography
  • Featured Fashion Piece in MOCAD Applebaum Teen Exhibition: Pigsty
  • Featured Fashion Piece in Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center Teen Exhibition
  • First Place in Royal Oak Optimist Club photo/video competition
  • 2019 Regional Scholastic Gold Key for fashion
  • 2020 Regional Scholastic Gold Key for photography
  • 2020 Regional Scholastic Silver Key portfolio
  • 2020 Regional Scholastic Honorable Mention portfolio
  • 2020 Regional Scholastic Honorable Mention for sculpture

A quote about myself: “I choose to express myself through fashion design. I like to push the boundaries of fashion, exploring how certain clothing makes us feel. I am very passionate about environmental conservation and I try to implement sustainability into all of my designs.”

Sponsor: Greektown Casino

Jaylin Doresey-Mitchell

Jaylin Doresey-Mitchell

High school: Chandler Park Academy

GPA: 3.6

Parents/guardians: Keairah Stephens and Christopher Mitchell

College I plan to attend: Michigan State University

Major: Creative advertising

Career plans: Professional photographer

Most influential teacher: Terrel Dotson

Most important achievements:

  • Detroit Free Press Apprentice Award
  • Northwood Lab Camp Entrepreneur Award
  • Most Valuable Photographer of Athlazon Sports Media Group
  • Publication in Shein magazine
  • Publication In Fleek Model magazine
  • Published bylines in Detroit Free Press

A quote about myself: “I hate free time; it's the enemy of progression.”

Sponsor: R&J Manoogian

Runners-up: Eaman Ali, Gini Lawlis, Alexandria Y. Galicia Herendia, Heather Buchholz 

Judge: Antone Amye, deputy presentation editor, The Detroit News

Vocational-Technical

Addy Stuever Battel

Addy Stuever Battel

High school: Homeschool

GPA: 3.92

Parents/guardians: Sue Stuever and Bob Battel

College I plan to attend: Michigan State University

Major: Environmental studies and sustainability

Career plans: Public service

Most influential teacher: Heather Middleton

Most important achievements:

  • Co-founder of nationally recognized local hunger relief project Meating the Need for Our Village, personally involving 500 youth, providing $63,000 local impact
  • Coca-Cola Scholar, 2019
  • Bryan Cameron Education Foundation Impact Scholarship semifinalist, 2019
  • ELKS Most Valuable Student national semifinalist, 2019
  • National 4-H Youth in Action Award winner for agriculture and scholarship recipient, 2019
  • Michigan Governor’s Service Award, 2019
  • Tribute for community service from state Sen. Kevin Daley, state Rep. Phil Green and U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchel, 2019
  • Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes and scholarship recipient, 2019
  • Sodexo Stop Hunger Scholar and Stephen J. Brady scholarship recipient, 2018
  • T-Mobile Changemaker community manager, 2020

A quote about myself: “Sustainable agriculture is the cornerstone of a well-functioning society. American agriculture has the potential to become a net carbon sink, and I feel blessed to be part of getting us there.”

Sponsor: OneStream

Jennifer Won

Jennifer Won

High school: Troy

GPA: 4.3 (W), 3.98 (UW)

Parents/guardians: Hyung-min Won and Sun-young Choi

College I plan to attend: University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

Major: Business administration

Career plans: Business consultant with a focus on social impact

Most influential teacher: Elena Wollborg

Most important achievements:

  • Step on Poverty executive director: Organized a secondhand book drive that donated over 3,700 books to southeastern Michigan schools and California schools affected by wildfires, directed a collection drive that donated 1,930 pounds of food and hygiene donations to Neighborhood House, and promote environmental awareness
  • Step on Poverty Business Consulting Initiative board member: Provided free digital marketing consulting services to local businesses and nonprofits and led consultant groups
  • DECA: Troy High DECA chapter president, District Council member, four-time DECA State Champion and International Qualifier, 2019 DECA International Career Development Conference roleplay medalist, test medalist and finalist
  • 2020 Coca-Cola Scholar semifinalist
  • National Merit finalist
  • Skandalaris Business Plan Competition finalist
  • University of Michigan MPowered Entrepreneurship Startup High School finalist
  • Troy High Project LEAD: Relay for Life captain, Hemophilia Holiday Party sub-chair, vice president, fundraising officer, organized fundraisers for Gleaners
  • Troy High Entrepreneurship Club vice president
  • AP Scholar with Distinction

A quote about myself: “What matters most in life is improving the lives of others.”

Sponsor: TCF Bank

Runners-up: Ethan Alwardt,  Noah Dusseau, Alexander Scovill, Adlar Feldotte 

Judge: Rodney G. Thomas, principal, Lamphere High School

World studies

Abigail Collins-Carey

Abigail Collins-Carey

High school: Oakland Early College

GPA: 4.0

Parents/guardians: Ann and Bill Collins-Carey

College I plan to attend: University of Michigan

Major: Economics

Career plans: Work for the CIA/IMF, and conduct developing economics research.

Most influential teacher: Julie Seiler Ph.D. (college economics professor)

Most important achievements:

  • That I will transfer 54 free credits to the University of Michigan Ann Arbor with a 4.0 GPA (thanks to Oakland Early College)
  • Current position as a market analyst at Siemens DI (position is generally reserved for seniors in college)
  • Internship as a research assistant to Julie Seiler Ph.D. to develop course material on poverty for her Macroeconomics students.
  • Self-initiated internship in Tours, France, last summer for Youth for Understanding (with food and housing covered)
  • Phi Theta Kappa VP of Service for Oakland Community College Orchard Ridge
  • West Bloomfield Youth Assistance Award
  • Girl Scout Gold Award
  • La Familia Multicultural internship (tutored a woman from Honduras for citizenship test)
  • Shared Exchange program creation and implementation in YFU USA, Uruguay and France (www.SharedExchange.org)
  • Year abroad in Bella Unión, Uruguay — gained Spanish fluency

A quote about myself: “Life is more interesting when the trail has yet to be blazed.”

Sponsor: Hire Road

Jad Fawaz

Jad Fawaz

High school: Divine Child

GPA: 4.65

Parents/guardians: Moe and Mona Fawaz

College I plan to attend: University of Michigan

Major: Biological sciences

Career plans: Physician

Most influential teacher: Mr. Danielson-Francois and Mr. Nannini

Most important achievements:

  • Established relations with the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative in South Africa
  • Director of outreach for Ackwati Tutoring, an organization that tutors elementary kids
  • Co-founder of the Ministry of Presence, a club that promotes solidarity among all people
  • National Honor Society
  • Divine Child student ambassador
  • Top 3 percent of the Divine Child 2020 class
  • Awarded “Triple A” in the American Guild of Music Contest for piano
  • #2 singles for the varsity tennis team; placed 1st and 2nd in multiple tournaments
  • Earned scores of 5 in AP world history and AP English and language composition, and a 4 on AP U.S. history 
  • Divine Child Leadership Award

A quote about myself: “I’ve finally come to realize Michigan football is not worth all of that stress.”

Sponsor: R&J Manoogian

Runners-up: Grace Endrud, Henry Cantor, Genevieve Cabadas, Emiliya Smyk 

Judge: David Hales, social studies consultant, Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA)