Students honored for their Community Contributions
Four students from the Naperville area received scholarships from the Naperville Unit Education Association (NUEA) in the amount of $1500 each. The Naperville-based teachers’ union annually gives three scholarships to high school seniors who are children of members, and one scholarship to an education major in their third year of study. Scholarships are awarded based on extracurricular participation and contributions to the community. These scholarships were awarded in April, 2023.
The high-school scholarship recipients are Mark Park from Naperville Central High School, Felicity Abbott from Glenbard South High School, and Elijah Matas from Lake Park High School. The NUEA Future in Education recipient is Maria Gabrielli from Loyola University-Chicago.
The NUEA scholarships were created by certified staff in District 203 through their union to recognize outstanding contributions among area high school seniors. The Future in Education Award was added to help support a collegiate student entering the field of education. The scholarships are funded by member dues and represent a small portion of the local support provided to the community through scholarships, volunteerism, and charitable giving.
This fall, Mark will be attending Saint Louis University with a major in entrepreneurship within their Business Scholars Program. As a student at Naperville Central, Mark participated in Drum Show, Marching Band, Concert Band, and gave private lessons to percussion students at all levels. Mark launched several start-up businesses, including Scent Snacks, Melo, and Redhawk Records. Mark is the Vice-President of the Naperville Central chapter of DECA, an international organization which prepares future business leaders in the areas of marketing, finance, hospitality, and management.
Mark also excelled in his pursuits outside of NCHS. He is active as a worship team leader at his church. Additionally, he is the Vice President of Finance for the Naperville Children’s Business Fair. Despite all of that, he still found time to work as a busser at Meson Sabika/Santo Cielo. He also served on the ALIVE Teen Advisory Board as the co-leader of the Diversity Committee. Mark’s wide array of experiences make him an ideal candidate for this scholarship.
Felicity will be attending the University of Illinois in the College of Media this fall. She is an artistic athlete, excelling at both sports and the arts while a student at Glenbard North High School. Athletically, Felicity played tennis during her junior and senior year. She also played volleyball for three years and basketball for all four years. Perhaps most impressive, however, was her leadership as a soccer player, earning JV Captain during her sophomore and junior years.
Even with her busy schedule, she still found time to excel musically and academically. Felicity played in the orchestra for all four years of high school. Additionally, she served in several leadership roles for Best Buddies and Student Council. She was a member of the French Honors Society, the Principal’s Advisory Board, the Council of Presidents, the Key Club, and the National Honors Society. She also excelled as a Section Editor and Editor in Chief of the student newspaper. Through these activities, Felicity’s leadership acumen and drive for distinction clearly show that she is deserving of the NUEA scholarship.
Elijah will travel to Purdue University this fall to study Civil Engineering. Elijah’s four years at Lake Park High School illustrate a clear balance between his academic excellence and his community support. Elijah is a gifted soccer player, earning a spot on the 2022 All-Academic Team. He also served as a PE leader, wrestling score keeper, and a soccer referee. Outside of the realm of athletics, Elijah also was a gifted student. He always made the High Honor Roll, and participated on the Math Team, Earth Club, and National Honor Society. Elijah’s interest in AP Physics and AP Calculus helped drive him to pursue civil engineering.
Outside of school, Elijah’s community support was clear. He provided several hours of community work through the Willow Creek Community, which included working for Phil’s Friends and Feed My Starving Children. He worked the concession counter at Trinity Lutheran Middle School for various sporting events. He also helped distribute books for the West Campus Book Distributor and the Spring Hills Book Fair. Elijah hopes that his focus on civil engineering can help him tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges, such as climate change, poverty, and discrimination. His aspirations are admirable; hopefully this scholarship can help him achieve those lofty goals.
Maria currently attends Loyola University-Chicago with a major in Curriculum Development. She is passionate about instilling critical thinking, creativity and curiosity, and helping students develop a real love for learning that will last a lifetime. Maria also sees the larger perspective of her work: By teaching, mentoring, and advocating for her students, she believes that she can help to create a more equitable and just society. Education is a powerful tool for social change and every child deserves quality education, regardless of their background.
Maria credits her past schooling for helping her to prioritize her tasks, stay organized, and manage her time. She also learned the importance of empathy. By empathizing with others, she is able to communicate effectively, collaborate productively, and develop a sense of community with a global awareness. Maria will be an articulate advocate for her students, and very deserving of this award.
About the NUEA The NUEA is the association of 1400 certified staff members who work in Naperville School District 203. They are a unified voice advocating for students and the teaching profession. Led by President Ross Berkley, they work with the community, administration, students, and parents in District 203 to help provide the best educational experience possible to residents of Naperville, Bolingbrook, and Lisle with District 203.