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By Paul Brucker
Alliant recently selected five members to receive $2,000 each in this year’s Members Scholarship Program. They were among nearly 300 applicants evaluated on their academic performance, community involvement, personal goals and what Alliant means to them.
Congratulations to the winners:
Ivonne Hernandez of Wheaton, IL, is a sophomore at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL, majoring in business management. Fluent in Spanish, she volunteers as an interpreter at a healthcare clinic. She has twice traveled to Honduras to do missionary work with the Hearts for Honduras organization. Ivonne also drives a van to the airport to pick up refugees through the World Relief DuPage program. Her job is to welcome the refugees and drive them to their new apartment. Once there, she helps them feel at home and demonstrates how to use appliances the arrivals are not familiar with.
“I plan to continue working in nonprofit organizations as a grant writer and manager. I would then like to create my own nonprofit organization to help people, especially immigrants, to enjoy a good life in the United States through access to education and other opportunities.”
Laura McNally of Crystal Lake, IL, is completing her BFA in fashion design at the Illinois Institute of Art in Schaumburg. A single mother of three (with two already enrolled in college), she serves as a student ambassador and sewing tutor at the school. She also volunteers at a food pantry, a shelter for battered women and serves as a fundraiser for the Crystal Lake Girls’ Softball League and the Service League of Crystal Lake, which distributes funds to underprivileged families.
“I dedicated most of my adult life to my family. Now I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be a full-time student in a field I love. I’ve had a passion for fashion since I was very young and even enjoyed some success in the business without formal training. I’m now ready to do what it takes for a career in fashion design – and to make my three kids proud of their mom.”
Liezl Puzon of Morganville, NJ, is a freshman at Stanford University in Stanford, CA, majoring in computer science. A straight-A student who aced many AP classes, she graduated No. 1 in her class of 416. Lead trumpet in her school band, she was an altar server for four years with her church and put her technical skills to work after tropical storm Sandy, volunteering for 40 hours to help the SandyRelief organization use software for disaster canvassing and mapping. A member of the American Computer Science League national all-star team for four years, she also volunteered to help revamp a children’s hospital website.
“I want to help build the technology of the future. Previously, I developed a mountable Kinect motion sensing device that helps blind pedestrians navigate around obstacles. I plan to continue to create cutting-edge technology to aid humankind.”
Taylor Trujillo of Del Norte, CO, is a freshman at Adams State University in Alamosa, CO, planning to major in forensic chemistry with a minor in criminal psychology. All through high school, she earned straight A’s. For the past 10 years, she volunteered at the local fire department, helping out at the station, during fundraisers and at emergencies such as wildfires. Since age 11, Taylor also volunteered at the only animal shelter within 100 miles of her home. When the owner began to euthanize many of the animals and planned to shut down the business, Taylor stepped up and volunteered to run the office and to convert it into a no-kill nonprofit shelter. The owner agreed. During the first six months of operation, Taylor spent 40 hours a week there, after school, often into the late evening hours.
“In this constantly changing world, there are hackers and thieves constantly trying to get our hard earned money. I am only 18 years old and have already been victimized by someone hacking my debit card and stealing my money. That has not happened to me at Alliant. Its employees care about their members and look out for us. With a degree in forensic chemistry, I’ll also be in a position to help people.”
Timothy Wetzel of Laguna Niguel, CA, is a freshman at California Polytechnic State College in San Luis Obispo, CA, majoring in mathematics. He was a leader in the sea scouts branch of the Boy Scouts and lead singer of the rock band “Numb Desire.” He also played on his school’s varsity volleyball team and acted, usually in starring roles, in more than a dozen plays. Plus, he performed in an improv team to raise money for charity and co-founded an open mic club to provide students an opportunity to showcase their talents.
“I seek to improve the world through a job that actively benefits the community. Math majors are needed to develop green energy and marine preservation, both of which help sustain humanity and nature. I hope to use my skills to develop a way to harness wave energy, which could provide an unlimited source of power.”