OGLESBY — Gena Fassino of Peru and Devanshi Patel of LaSalle were named co-21st Century Scholars at the 13th annual 21st Century Scholars Society dinner Sept. 26 at Senica’s Deer Park Golf Club in Oglesby. Each will receive $3,000.
Both scholars plan to become physicians; they were 2018 graduates of LaSalle-Peru Township High School. Patel was the salutatorian, finishing second in a class of 253.
Other finalists for the award, Megan Brooker, Julianna Kitzmann and Gabriella Nanez, each received $1,500.
Patel, the daughter of Jitendrakumar and Geetaben Patel, emigrated to the U.S. from India when she was 5 years old. In her speech, Patel credited teachers at all levels of her education for her successful acclimation.
“They treated me as equal to the other children, supported me and cheered me on,” she said. “They taught me how to speak, write and understand English. My teachers showed me how to tackle the subjects I had difficulty with and sometimes taught me one-on-one.”
She thanked members of the 21st Century Scholars Society who contribute $500 a year.
“Thank you for your dedication, you commitment, your encouragement, your donations and most importantly, for choosing to support education,” Patel said.
Fassino, the daughter of Mike and Dena Fassino, credited her doctor and mentor Dr. Yesenia Valdez and IVCC Dean of Natural Sciences Ron Groleau for inspiring her success.
She said of Groleau, her Anatomy and Physiology I and II instructor, “You go out of your way for all students in order for them to fully understand the material. You provide the most help and dedication I have ever experienced in the classroom.”
Nanez, the daughter of Elicerio and Diana Nanez of Mendota, is a nursing student who hopes to become a nurse anesthetist.
Kitzmann, the daughter of Frank and Jennifer Kitzmann of Marseilles, plans to study mechanical engineering.
Brooker, the daughter of Jim and Sue Brooker of Granville, plans to major in actuarial science at the University of Illinois.
The Society also awarded $750 Merit scholarships to Joannah Cisneros of Oglesby, psychology; Adrian Espinoza of Mendota, finance; Anna Holland of Manville, nursing; Kylee Mallery of Tiskilwa, education; Jack O’Connor of Princeton, social work; Jacob Ritko of Streator accounting; Garret Shan of Oglesby, education; Michael Stoens of Lostant, engineering; and Mitchell Vickers of Streator, chemical engineering.
Honorable mention awards of $500 went to: Wilson Copeland of Streator, engineering; Brogan Dougherty of Ottawa, accounting; Valerie Gordon of Marseilles, psychology; Olivia Holmes of Hennepin, biology; Nathaniel Newman of Oglesby, accounting; and Ben Tran of Lostant, computer science.
In all, 20 students received a total of $20,250; since its founding in 2007, the Society has awarded over $180,000 to 157 students.
Currently made up of 41 members, the Society rewards IVCC’s most promising returning students. To qualify, students need a minimum 3.5 GPA as well as extensive college involvement and community service.
New Society members welcomed Sept. 26 included alumni Larry and Gayla Johnson of Ottawa, and five employees: economics instructor David Barnes; Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Bonnie Campbell and husband, Al; Assistant Director of Admissions Aseret Loveland and husband, David; Dean Ron Groleau and wife, Kim; and criminal justice program director Kevin Hermes and wife, Sherianne.
The evening included remarks by IVCC President Jerry Corcoran and Foundation President Sue Schmitt.