Twenty-five high school seniors in McLennan County are being recognized for their volunteerism and service in the 40th annual Youth Citizenship Awards sponsored by the Rotary Club of Waco and the Tribune-Herald.
The students are usually honored at a spring luncheon held by the Rotary Club, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled those plans.
Each nominee was chosen by his or her high school. Students submitted a detailed application listing their school achievements and volunteer activities.
A letter of recommendation from someone familiar with their volunteer efforts is part of the application.
Judges use the Rotary Club’s motto of “Service Above Self” in selecting five finalists and from those, one is chosen the winner.
Parents: Elisabeth and Thomas Kalka
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Super Centex softball and volleyball; senior class president; Business Professionals of America state qualifier; Student Council (projects to help Guatemalan refugees, pack food for students in need); Adding Grace to Gospel Committee to assist Grace Gospel Church.
Plans: Study international business at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and become an international sales/account manager.
Parents: Jessica and Jose Amaro
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society president; FFA vice president; marching band drum major; tennis; volunteered with Red Cross and delivered school supplies to Austwell-Tivoli ISD schools after Hurricane Harvey.
Plans: Attend University of Texas at Austin and major in astronomy, minor in physics. Wants to work at and run a planetarium, doing research on the universe.
Parents: Cherime Greenman and Richard Lary
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: FFA president; UIL One-Act Play; Student Council; varsity mascot; collected trash along adopted highway, volunteered at soup kitchens and animal shelters with FFA chapter.
Plans: Attend Tarleton State University and major in agriculture education with teacher certification. Wants to teach agriculture science at high school, later at university.
China Spring High
Parents: Niki and Jon Edwards
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: UIL choir Solo & Ensemble state qualifier; PALS; Student Council; baseball; basketball; volunteered with China Spring ISD Education Foundation, Waco Challenger Little League, and mission trips to San Estevan, Belize and La Grulla, Texas.
Plans: Attend Texas A&M University and major in atmospheric science/meteorology. Wants to become a meteorologist.
Parents: Sejal and Umeshkumar Gandhi
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Valedictorian; National Honor Society president; color guard captain; Future Health Professionals; Rotary Challenge team; Upward Bound; VOICE Inc.; dual-credit courses at MCC; volunteered at The Atrium in Bellmead, Really Big Fishing Event for Very Special People, Communities in Schools.
Plans: Attend University of Texas at Austin and major in pre-med. Wants to become a doctor and sponsor medical mission trips to India and Africa.
Parent: Amy Maddox
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Salutatorian; UIL academics; volleyball; basketball; class president; Beta Club; PALS; member of pastor search committee for First Baptist Church of Crawford; volunteered at church nursery and Vacation Bible School, nursing home.
Plans: Attend Baylor University and major in geriatrics. Wants to become a geriatric physical therapist or a geriatric nurse.
Eagle Christian Academy
Parents: Karen and Patrick Eason
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society; academic all-state track and field; baseball; basketball; instrumental ensemble; Regal Eagle; volunteered with International Hoops for Hope, Zoo Crew at Cameron Park Zoo, Caritas, Meals on Wheels.
Plans: Attend either Baylor University to study biology or Texas A&M University to study animal science. Wants to work with animals, which may include caretaking or research.
Harmony School of Innovation
Parents: Kayla and Steven Rosas
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Eagle Scout with Troop 453; UIL state robotics championships; FIRST robotics; Student Council; National Honor Society; volunteered with Food for Families, H-E-B Feast of Sharing.
Plans: Attend Texas A&M University and major in architecture. Wants to pursue a career in architecture and design.
La Vega High
Parents: Shanon and Juan Mendoza
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Top 20 student; dual-credit courses with MCC; Student Council; marching and concert bands; culinary; theater; tutored and mentored peers for classes; volunteered with school-related functions.
Plans: Attend Tarleton State University through McLennan Community College in Waco and major in criminal justice. Wants to have a career in criminal justice.
Live Oak Classical
Parents: Holly and Richard Helmer
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society president; St. Catherine of Sienna Service Award; track; cross country; cheer; Honor Council; volunteered with Adopt-a-School partnership with J.H. Hines Elementary, summer mission trips, maintenance at Salem-Irene Cemetery.
Plans: Attend Baylor University, where she received a Provost Gold Scholarship.
Parents: Lori and Thomas Dickson
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Band president; National Honor Society treasurer; State History Fair qualifier; football captain (all-district, all-state academic); volunteered with Waco-McLennan County Fire Corps, Lorena athletics, Journey Lorena church, 100 Club Heart of Texas.
Plans: Attend either Baylor University or Texas A&M University to major in computer science, then continue with graduate school.
Parents: Rhonda and B.C. Vanek
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: FFA president; Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo Sweetheart; Student Activities Government president; National Honor Society secretary; softball; cheerleader; volunteered with Mart Little League, National Night Out, Vacation Bible School, Food for Families.
Plans: Attend Tarleton State University in Stephenville and major in agricultural services and development. Wants to be agriculture teacher at a high school.
Parent: Randi Williams
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society; UIL academics; Academic Excellence Award; marching band drum major; tuba section leader; Go Girls CyberStart Club; volunteered with Interact Club projects, Vacation Bible School, Rotary Club pancake supper.
Plans: Attend Tarleton State University and major in music education. Wants to be a band director at a high school.
Methodist Children’s Home
Parents: Linda and Leland Clark
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Takes dual-credit courses; lettered in FFA (junior year); marching band (freshman, sophomore years); athletics; choir; volunteered at Salvation Army Community Kitchen, as Red Kettle bell ringer and with Habitat for Humanity.
Plans: Attend Tarleton State University. Wants to be a school counselor in underprivileged communities.
Parents: Fiona Bond and Bruce Longenecker
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Business Professionals of America; CyberPatriot competitions; National Spanish Exam silver medalist; AP Scholar with honors; swim instructor, lifeguard at Waco Family YMCA; volunteered with Vacation Bible School, Waco Cultural Arts Fest; designed interactive map for Creative Waco.
Plans: Attend University of Texas at Austin with a concentration on artificial intelligence . Wants to research potential of AI to solve sanitation issues in developing countries.
Parents: Terri Turley and James Turley
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Valedictorian; associate’s degree from MCC; National Honor Society president; Student Council vice president; Beta Club; UIL; Ignite Dance Company; volunteered with Caritas, Food for Families, Veterans Day memorials.
Plans: Attend Texas State University and major in dance performance/choreography. Wants to become a professor in dance or establish a dance studio.
Parents: Francis and Chad Tharp
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Communities in Schools; A-B honor roll for three years; volunteered at Child Protective Services to help sort clothes and unload and organize Toys for Tots donations; assisted with PALS back-to-school event.
Plans: Attend McLennan Communty College to begin studies to become a radiology technologist.
Rapoport Meyer High
Parent: David Booker
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Valedictorian; National Honor Society; volleyball captain; basketball captain; associate’s degree from MCC; yearbook staff; Grassroots Leadership program; church youth group, worship team; volunteered at summer church camp in Arkansas.
Plans: Attend Baylor University and major in communication sciences and disorders. Wants to become a speech pathologist and work in a school.
Parents: Audrey and Ben Saage
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Valedictorian; National Honor Society president; basketball; track and field; tennis; Student Council; FFA; PALS; athletic trainer; volunteered with after-school deaf education, Riesel Lions Club fair, Zoo Crew at Cameron Park Zoo, mission trips (including orphanage in Guatemala).
Plans: Attend Baylor University to major in language and communications disorders. Wants to become a speech therapist.
Parents: Tara and David Collinsworth
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society; Health Occupations Students of America president (2 years); Student Council; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America; volunteered with Red Cross blood drives, Getterman Wellness Center, Hurricane Harvey disaster relief, Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry.
Plans: Attend Baylor University to major in the biology, pre-med program. Wants to become an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports-related injuries.
Parents: Rosanna and Robert Cruz
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Academic Achiever (2 years); National Honor Society; cheerleader; Future Business Leaders of America president; Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program; volunteered at Heartis senior living center, blood drives, National Night Out, Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Plans: Attend University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, where she has applied to the nursing school. Wants to become a nurse-midwife after bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Valley Mills High
Parents: Sandra Aleman and Miguel Aleman
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Valedictorian; National Honor Society; senior class president of Upward Bound college readiness program; cross country; recreational and select soccer; volunteered as mentor and tutor to younger students, Mission Waco, muscular dystrophy walk.
Plans: Attend McLennan Community College for biology emphasis and then go to pre-med program at a university. Wants to become an orthopedic surgeon.
Vanguard College Preparatory
Parents: Marilyn and Joe Carlisle
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Community Service Club co-founder and co-president; junior class president; Viking Shield Award recipient; football; track and field; volunteered with Keep Waco Beautiful, nursing homes, Cameron Park Zoo, Baylor University Latin Day.
Plans: Attend Baylor University and major in biomedical engineering. Wants to be a biomedical engineer and study ways to combat Alzheimer’s disease and asthma.
Parents: Candy and Steve Swenke
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Academic Achiever; National Honor Society; tennis; orchestra (UIL Region 8 Solo & Ensemble); Student Council; Mock Trial ; National Charity League; volunteered with Family Abuse Center, Cattle Baron’s Ball, Caritas, Talitha Koum, mission trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Plans: Attend McCombs School of Business at University of Texas at Austin, may later seek master’s in business administration or Doctor of Jurisprudence.
Parents: JJ and Mike King
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Student Council president; class president; National Honor Society president; Key Club; FFA; volleyball captain (Super Centex); coordinated breast cancer awareness project; volunteered with Kiwanis Thanksgiving lun- cheon, blood drives, reading to young students, Westfest.
Plans: Attend either Virginia Military Institute, The Citadel or Texas A&M University and be in Army ROTC while majoring in mathematics. Wants to serve in Army and go into military intelligence.
Note: No nominee was submitted by Bishop Louis Reicher Catholic High School.