NHS Scholarship Winners' Profiles
Have you ever wondered what it takes to win one of the NHS Scholarships? This is a common question for the staff at the national office, so we thought we’d share some information with you to provide an answer.
Below you will find winner profiles for the annual NHS Scholarship Program as featured in Leadership for Student Activities magazine from the last several years. Additional profiles will be included in the upcoming editions of the magazine in November and January each year.
We provide these profiles and other information found at www.nhs.us/scholarships to assist chapter advisers and students better understand the caliber of student required to win one of these prestigious national scholarships.
Additional information about the NHS Scholarship Program can be found at www.nhs.us/scholarships.
Jiwen Li, Vermillion HS
Vermillion, South Dakota
2009 National Winner
For the third year, the NHS and NJHS National Council has identified a National Winner for the NHS Scholarship. From among the 150 finalists in the scholarship program, the 2009 winner, notified last spring, is Jiwen Li from Vermillion (SD) High School. Since 1946, NASSP, the parent organization for the Honor Societies, has awarded outstanding seniors in all 50 states, DC, and overseas with scholarships. This year’s national winner clearly demonstrates a high caliber performance as a member of the class of 2009.
Jiwen graduated first in her class of 105. Add to this high standard of scholarship a near- perfect score on the SAT. Her strong academic performance was also recognized when she was named a National Merit Semifinalist for 2009. Her principal, Curt Cameron, noted in his recommendation that, “Jiwen takes pride in her studies. She continually challenges herself, going above and beyond what is required to prepare herself for higher education.” With strong academics in hand, Jiwen also excelled as a leader at her school and in the community. As president of her NHS chapter for two years, she developed a strong reputation as a leader. Her chapter adviser, Carla Kozak, comments that, “She is the most reliable leader I have had the pleasure to work with in over ten years. She is dedicated, honest, hardworking, and compassionate about all facets of our program. As the adviser, I do not worry about any activities or functions when Jiwen is at the helm.”
In addition to her impact on the NHS program, Jiwen also served as vice-president of her student council and president of the debate club, science club, quiz bowl team, and science Olympiad group. Quite a record of leadership.
In the arts, Jiwen was section leader in the band for three years. During this time she earned all state band and orchestra honors for her clarinet playing. In addition, in debate, she was recognized as one of the top 50 Lincoln-Douglas Debaters in 2007. When reviewing Jiwen’s leadership and service record, one is readily impressed by the commitment demonstrated by her multiple years in leadership roles and providing service. She volunteered as a ‘teen angel’ at a senior center for three years; worked with the Welcome Table Meals program for a similar time. For two years she participated in the mentoring program aiding freshman transition at her school, and had other long term commitments with her work with local river cleanups and blood drives.
Her principal commented on this aspect of Jiwen’s career by noting, “Jiwen is conscientious of the needs of her peers and participates in programs that promote a positive school climate at Vermillion High School.”
In her essay for the nomination process, Jiwen focused on the problem of electronic waste in our increasingly high tech world. Noting the 50 million tons of e-waste generated each year and the added problem of exporting such wastes from the developed nations to lesser-developed regions of the globe, Jiwen cited the efforts of her chapter, under her leadership, to promote sustainable development and to stress reutilization by making an effort to donate all good-condition used goods from computers to phones to books to the needy as opposed to needlessly polluting.
Clearly this young lady has a promising future. Her achievements abound in all four of the NHS criteria making her selection by the National Council as the 2009 national winner a well-supported decision.
Nathan Nakatsuka, Kamehameha School,
2008 National Winner
The Kamehameha Schools are unique and outstanding institutions in Hawaii. In 2008, a new honor was added to their reputation – they were home to the 2008 National Winner of the NHS Scholarship, Nathan Nakatsuka. From the beginning, the Kamehameha Schools have focused on leadership and excellence. The school’s homepage begins, “With extraordinary foresight, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, great-granddaughter of the last royal descendant of Kamehameha the Great founded Kamehameha Schools.” From all accounts, Nathan is living up to the traditions of greatness associated with this school.
As a member of the Class of 2008, Nathan Nakatsuka was first in his class of nearly 450 students. He paralleled this achievement by having near perfect scores on both the SAT and the ACT to add to his stellar transcript. But excellence is found in many aspects of Nathan’s high school career – not simply in the classroom.
Nathan was president of his NHS chapter for two years, a position which included projects to collect food and tutor impoverished native Hawaiians. He was an active member of the math team for Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society, team captain of the Academic Decathlon team and the Physics team, and a member of the Science Club team.
In the sciences, Nathan was recognized for excellence in scientific research in the Siemens-Westinghouse Science competition and was a two time qualifier with outstanding performance in the National Chemistry Olympiad. He pursued his interests in science through work, being a computer translational research data analyst for the National Cancer Institute his senior year, and focusing on bioinformatics through the analysis of epigenetic patterns with the Temple University Medical School during most of his high school years.
Nathan knew well the meaning of the old adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” He excelled in sports, notably cross-country, tennis, and track. He led his school team to state championship in cross country and was a two time conference 1st team all star. In tennis he was twice ranked number one in his age group in state competition. In his spare time, he was also a member of the school’s Treehuggers Recycling Club.
Julian Ako, principal, noted in his recommendation that, “What really sets him (Nathan) apart is his strength of character. He is very quiet, humble, and unassuming. These traits, coupled with his example of always doing everything in earnest no matter how mundane the task, make Nathan a natural leader that others willingly choose to follow.”
Nathan provided a thought-provoking response to this year’s essay question which asked nominees to give advice to incoming freshmen to help them succeed in high school.
The National Honor Society and NASSP are very proud to congratulate Nathan Nakatsuka from the Kamehameha School in Hawaii as the National Winner of the 2008 NHS Scholarship Program.
Joseph Anaya, Brookfield High School
Two years ago, the NHS Scholarship Program introduced a new set of awards recognizing winners at the state, regional, and national levels. We are proud to present a profile of the Region 1 winner from 2008, Joseph Anaya.
“High school is not limited to a narrow definition of success, but rather it encompasses experiences that involve learning about oneself and others, sharing one’s gifts, developing friends, and having fun. Without these aspects of the high school experience, academic or athletic success in high school would be meaningless.”
Joe Anaya noted this definition of high school success in his narrative for the NHS scholarship nomination. Through his career in high school, he embodied this advice, adding that “Life is not about the destination, but rather it is about the journey” as an indicator of some of the motivation he used to find success.
Joe’s home, Brookfield, Connecticut, is in the west-central portion of the state, not far from the border with New York state. The high school’s graduating class last year had 243 members with a high percentage of students enrolled in the college-preparatory curriculum.
Joe did well in high school, finishing number two in his class with impressive scores on his standardized tests and report card that is uniquely boring with all A’s for his coursework. His NHS adviser, Sydnye Cohen, praised him for “his commendable work ethic, his attention to details, and his capacity to motivate his fellow students.” His principal, Bryan Luizzi, noted that Joe was “one of the rare students who share their success with others.” Let’s examine some of those successes.
Joe was president of his NHS chapter and served as a senator in the student council for two years. He served as president of the Spanish Honor Society chapter, co-captain of the math league team, and drum major and section leader in the marching band. He enjoyed playing JV baseball and basketball and lettered as a member of the varsity wrestling team.
Joes’ academic skills were recognized with numerous awards including designation as an AP Scholar, a National Hispanic Scholar, and a variety of school awards in Math, statistics, biology, chemistry, and Spanish. He shared his academic skills through participation in several tutoring programs which he also helped to coordinate on a school-wide basis.
In addition to tutoring, Joe participated in service activities that included volunteering at a local hospital, working with the local office of the American Red Cross, and serving as a member of the school’s leadership and organization committee. He also found time to work as a medical intern and in sales at a local office supply store.
Joe offers the following advice for making the most of one’s high school years: “As a freshman, dabble in a number of student activities and then invest your time and energy in a few that you are genuinely passionate about. Select a gift that you have and share it by enriching the lives of those who are less fortunate than you. Establish your legacy in regard to who you are for others, not in what you have done for yourself. Along the way, make good friends, spend time with them, and have fun.”
Congratulations to Joseph Anaya for his commitment to finding meaningful success in school and for being a regional winner in the 2008 NHS Scholarship Program.
James Patrick Nelli, Ashbrook Senior High School
Gastonia, North Carolina
Halfway between Charlotte and Kings Mountain, along part of the I-85 corridor, lies the town of Gastonia, North Carolina. Located there, Ashbrook Senior High, a well-known school in the state, is the home of this month’s scholarship winner, James Patrick Nelli.
Ashbrook is a large public school of more than 1200 students – the class of 2005 had just over 300 students this past spring. The community is generally considered suburban and has a high percentage of students planning on attending college. From the halls of ASHS last year came “the most impressive student I have ever encountered” – as Patrick was described by his counselor, Larry Carpenter.
Patrick ended his high school career as valedictorian. His performance in class was equaled by his performance on the SATs which place him well above the national average in scoring, particularly in the math and science testing. He was selected to attend the North Carolina Governor’s school for his strong academics. In reference to Patrick’s enthusiasm for learning, Mr. Carpenter added, “He is a sponge, soaking up every ounce of knowledge that passes his way.”
Besides leadership exhibited in the classroom, Patrick found numerous ways of demonstrating his leadership skills on and off campus. From his recommendations we learn that he was well-respected by his teachers and peers, full of integrity and good moral judgment, and a tremendous leader. Where did this leadership appear? He served as student council and class president; was president of the Junior Civitan’s Club; directed the Miss Ashbrook Pageant; and attended both the state and national HOSA leadership conferences. His experiences with HOSA also led to state and national awards in that organization’s math competitions.
In sports, Patrick was a member of the soccer and tennis teams, lettering in both three years in a row and serving as captain of both his senior year. He was identified as a “Scholar-Athlete” on several occasions and received numerous local and conference awards, including a sportsmanship award attesting to his good character.
Service played an important role in Patrick’s high school experience. He was an active Relay for Life participant, raising money for the American Cancer Society starting in the seventh grade. He also participated in the CROP Walk, assisted with Special Olympics and Operation Christmas Child during each of his high school years. He used his musical talents while volunteering with the school’s chorus, helped beautify the campus of his school, participated in the annual blood drive and volunteered with the local Boys’ and Girls’ Club and the Knights of Columbus fundraising events. His principal commented that he is constantly searching for ways to serve others and is the embodiment of the “servant leader.”
For his hard work, exemplifying all of the criteria set forth in the purposes of NHS, we congratulate James Patrick Nelli of Gastonia, NC for being selected a winner of the 2005 NHS National Scholarship.
Lacy Kline, Old Mill Senior HS
The class of 2005 at Old Mill SHS was nearly 600 seniors strong. That’s a lot of people to walk across the stage at the end of the year, but among those rising to the top of the class was Lacy Kline, our winner profile for this month.
The school, located about halfway between Baltimore and the state capital of Annapolis, is a large suburban public high school with more than 2/3rds of the students continuing on to post-secondary education. The curriculum offered there includes a wide variety of AP and Honors courses, and based on the state requirement for all high schools in Maryland, requires 75 hours of community service to graduate with a regular diploma.
Lacy, placed very near the top of her class academically, demonstrated her scholarship by earning a high-A average overall and completing a large number of AP courses during her career at OMSHS. She also scored well above average on her SAT’s, earning a slightly higher mark on her mathematics portions of the test.
While her major leadership roles were in her junior and senior year, serving as president of her NHS chapter and vice president of her class and the student council, she also served in a variety of other leadership roles including some as a sophomore. She was president of Key Club her senior year and team captain of the Relay for Life team in both grades 11 and 12. She served as a student liaison on both the School Improvement Team and the Principal’s Advisory group during her senior year.
Lacy participated in a variety of activities that rounded out her experiences. She was a member of the Spanish National Honor Society and was involved in PADI scuba diving for three years. She ran both indoor and outdoor track. She participated in both the state and regional student council organizations and served on the school spirit committee.
When combining her strong academics and her many activities, this led to many awards and honors including being student of the week and the month on several occasions. She was also a National Merit Scholars, Maryland Distinguished Scholar, received the Girl Scout Leadership Award and Silver Award, along with many honor roll and academic awards from the school system.
In the field of service, Lacy used her leadership skills to coordinate blood drives on campus three years in a row, volunteering with the Red Cross. She tutored students as part of her NHS chapter service activities, and participated in Feed the Homeless with Key Club. In addition she worked to fight cancer and to raise money for the Battered Women and Children’s shelters in her community.
Her principal, Kathryn Kubic, commented on Lacy’s involvement and character in her recommendation. “I see Katy at every activity and I see the respect she has earned from faculty and her peers.” Her adviser, Stacy Lynn Raines, provides the following compliments to Lacy’s character in her recommendation: “Lacy always sets a remarkable example by showcasing her kind and courteous behavior to our student body. She is a silent hero, who slowly but surely is making our community a better place to live.”
For her achievements, her involvement, and her caring, we congratulate Lacy Kline as one of our winners of the NHS Scholarship in 2005.
Kathryn O’Brien, Manchester West HS
Manchester, New Hampshire
Manchester, New Hampshire boasts four high schools. In the last couple of years, thanks to the leadership of Kathryn O’Brien, these schools have begin to collaborate in providing service to the community. The result? Increased involvement and productivity to benefit everyone involved. Leadership is an essential criterion for memberships in NHS and this example of going above and beyond the call of duty is one of the reasons why Kathryn was chosen as a winner of the 2004 NHS National Scholarship.
Kathryn attended Manchester West High School. One immediate advantage for her is that both her principal and chapter adviser are involved at the state and national level in honor society activities. But Kathryn’s success developed in spite of these great connections.
For her high school career, Kathryn maintained a position of being in the top ten of her class of 481 persons. She maintained a high-A average overall and scored well above the national average on her standardized college admissions tests, performing better in Math than Verbal, thus challenging the stereotypes regarding female performance on those tests. Her strong academics earned her recognition throughout high school in virtually every core subject area, including being an outstanding scholar athlete at the school.
As noted above, Kathryn was a leader in high school. She was president of her NHS chapter, having been the Junior Class representative on the NHS executive committee as well. She also served as Assistant Editor of the yearbook for two years. Outside of school, she was a team leader and peer minister in her church youth group and served as a director of a local preschool vacation Bible school.
In sports, Kathryn’s leadership also emerged when she was selected as the captain of her cross country team. She is an active runner, having lettered not only in cross country but also in spring and winter track for three years.
Perhaps all that running provided Kathryn the energy to meet the many goals of her involvement in other student activities at school and in the community. She was on the student communication committee, a member of the Junior Class steering committee, and a participant in the school’s Community of Caring activities. She pursued some of her career interests through involvement the Law Explorer post and the “West Investigates Science Education” group.
In her narrative explaining the value of NHS, Kathryn noted, “I enjoyed selecting community service projects that our chapter could participate in, and loved seeing the happy faces of the people that we had helped. To me, community service is the single most important thing one can do because you are giving back to the community that has already given you so much.” Her service involvement included the aforementioned vacation Bible school activities, collecting food for the New Hampshire Food Bank, creating Thanksgiving baskets for the needy and organizing a youth retreat. Her chapter’s project to collect used cell phones was so successful that it earned them recognition as an Outstanding Service Project at the 2003 NHS&NJHS National Conference. In her spare time, Kathryn also worked part-time throughout high school at a local pharmacy and for the family business, O’Brien’s Outdoor Services, Inc.
Janice Thompson, principal of Manchester West included the following among the comments in her recommendation: “Whether in sports, community volunteering, or her nationally-recognized initiatives for our NHS chapter, Kathryn distinguishes herself as a role model and a tireless worker who is responsible, focused, compassionate, and ambitious.”
Congratulations to Kathryn O’Brien for having been selected as a 2004 recipient of the NHS National Scholarship!
Douglas Lieblich, Ward Melville HS,
Melville, New York
About midway out on Long Island, New York, not far from the Long Island Sound, Ward Melville High School is found. More than 2,000 students attend WMHS in this suburban area roughly 40 miles East of New York City. One of the stars of the class of 2004 was Douglas Lieblich, who collected among his many honors a 2004 NHS National Scholarship. Scholarship winners are chosen for their excellent work in all four criteria used for selection to NHS in the first place and Douglas was no exception in any area.
Scholarship: Douglas demonstrated ranking in the top 5 percent of his graduating class of 596 students with a GPA above 3.9. His performance on the SAT was well above average, excelling in the Verbal sections. He was recognized for achievements in his coursework with selection to the Latin Honor Society, a gold medal on the National Latin Exam, and an Achievement Award from NCTE (the National Council of Teachers of English).
In addition to his excellent work in core academics noted above, Douglas also demonstrated his superior performance in the arts, being selected as a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society (sponsored by the Music Educators National Conference), and receiving awards for Jazz and Classical piano. He was also selected to the All County Jazz Band two years in a row, the only pianist selected for this honor in the entire region.
Leadership: While recognition is often sufficient indication of leadership for some, Douglas also took on responsibilities of leadership in a variety of roles on campus. He served as vice-president of his NHS chapter for two years. He was also the Sports Editor of the school newspaper in grades 11 and 12. While a member of Tri-M, he was the director of the group’s tutoring program spending many hours organizing efforts to assist students at the local Hope House. His interest in History also compelled him to join and eventually lead the school’s History club as an officer for three years. With his music talents, Douglas served as the pianist for the All County Jazz Orchestra and the Honors Jazz Ensemble at WMHS.
Service: It is Douglas’s service that provided subject for commentary by both his chapter adviser and principal in the recommendation section of the nomination form. His adviser, Michele Aweh, describes the initiative and organization used by Doug to complete the chapter’s annual Adopt-a-Child donation drive. The consequences of his efforts raised more than $3,000 and reached more than 100 teenagers in their community. John R. Lewis, principal of the school, describes Doug as a “citizen extraordinaire” at the school where he, “excels and demonstrates impressive leadership dimensions, and is viewed by the faculty as an incisive scholar.” The principal cites Doug’s service activities with NHS and Tri-M along with his work at his synagogue.
Character: While the national forms don’t specifically request data on a student’s character, Doug noted his having received recognition by his district as a “Character Counts!” award winner for the year, a valid public indicator of the high opinion held of his character by the school. In his nomination narrative, Douglas references a leadership challenge he faced when carrying out his role as head of the Adopt a Child fundraising. In his effort to reach local businesses for donations, more than 2,000 letters were inadvertently thrown out. Not to let this dissuade him, Douglas recognized that time was of the essence and set out to redo his all-important communication. The contributions came in and the project was a success. From this, Douglas indicates, “NHS opened my eyes to the rewards of community service. It [NHS] is an organization for the public good, deeply respected by the school, community and its own membership.”
We congratulate Douglas Lieblich as a 2004 recipient of the NHS Scholarship.
Kayla Peck, Chino Valley HS
Chino Valley, AZ
Chino Valley is located about two hours north of Phoenix, just above Prescott, Arizona. The high school there is a mid-sized school that last year graduated 167 persons. At the top of the class was an NHS member who was a state winner for the 2006 NHS Scholarship program, Kayla Peck. Winners of the NHS Scholarship demonstrate outstanding performance in all aspects of their school life, particularly in the areas identified by the four criteria. Where Scholarship was concerned, in addition to being Valedictorian of her class, Kayla scored well above average on her standardized tests, was recipient of an English Excellence award, and named an outstanding scholar-athlete by the school.
Kayla was involved in a variety of leadership positions during her high school career. She was vice-president of her class and the student council, secretary of her NHS chapter, a section editor for the school newspaper, president of the history club and team captain in both soccer and track and field. She was also active in D.A.R.E., the school dairy team, the parliamentary procedure team, and a participant in National History Day projects where she was a finalist. In addition to her involvement, Kayla was recognized for achievements at school by being named freshman of the Year, was on the Superintendent’s Achievement List, the School Poetry Contest winner, and winner of several speaking awards from local and state competitions.
Kayla participated in a variety of service activities including a bake sale for the Humane Society, “Farmers Feeding Families,” a summer literacy program, and clean-up projects both at school and in the community. The narrative assignment for the 2006 program asked nominees to identify the value that participation in service activities provides, and Kayla offered the following testimony:
“At first, community service seemed to be more of a chore to me, something that would only be beneficial for scholarship. However, it was the NHS that altered my view of community service. No longer was it something that I did because I had to it was now an activity that I enjoyed participating in. I believe the real change began with a project where our NHS group was able to purchase gifts for needy children. The shopping was fund no doubt, but what had the true impact on me was when we delivered the gifts to the children. Seeing their faces light up in excitement and true joy for what we had done made me realize the true benefits of community service. I was not doing it for myself; I was doing it for them. It was in that moment that I recognized the genuine value of community service.”
One of Kayla’s teachers, Patrick Wellert, in writing the recommendation for this award, noted that, “She [Kayla] uses her skill as an award winning public speaker to encourage and motivate others. Seeing Kayla display these skills and work towards helping others assures me that great leaders are not born, they are made through commitment, perseverance, and caring.” Her principal, Jeffry St. Clair, comments on Kayla’s energy and passion and that she serves as “a role model that I can encourage other students to follow.”
Clearly, Kayla exemplifies all of the criteria that led to her selection as a member of NHS and winner of the NHS Scholarship for 2006.
Katherine White, Virgin Valley High School
Northwest of Las Vegas, along Interstate 15 and nestled in the Virgin River Valley next to the border with Arizona is the town of Mesquite. Here is found Virgin Valley High School (VVHS), a medium-sized high school in this rural community of Nevada and home to Katherine White, 2006 winner of the NHS national scholarship.
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no person can sincerely try to help another without helping themselves.” Katherine included this quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson in her scholarship narrative on the value of service. As an NHS member and leader in other service organizations on campus, she was instrumental in organizing a variety of service projects that helped make a difference for her peers and for her community.
Katherine commented that, “Everything that was accomplished through our service projects made me a better person. I know now how to organize big projects that involve many people and organizations; how to delegate and recruit; how to follow through with a plan; and most importantly, how to touch a life and take care of other people. I will be able to use these new talents in many future endeavors.” What better summary of the value of doing service activities could be offered?
It is of no surprise then that her principal, Delos Perkins, notes how “dependable, honest, and hard-working and willing to sacrifice to get the job done” Katherine is, adding “The skills that she possesses are of enormous depth and are a rare find in such a young person.” Katherine’s scholarship is strong – she was the valedictorian of the Class of 2006 from VVHS. Her performance on ACT was well-above average and she was recognized with many academic-based awards throughout her high school career. Among these were being on the school’s honor roll all four years, two writing achievement awards, and the College Board AP Scholar Award.
As a leader, Katherine was involved as her class president for three years. She was president of Key Club her junior year and Interact during her senior year. She also served as team captain in both softball and volleyball, also adding basketball to her athletic involvement on campus. Katherine rounded out her involvement by participating in the school’s show choir for two years. She was also a member of the School Improvement Committee as a senior, helping to direct the future of the school as a student representative.
The service activities listed on Katherine’s nomination form may have been the strongest component of her career. Her recommendations speak to her having initiated several community-wide service projects including a flood prevention and clean up activity, volunteering at local elementary schools, and helping with Halloween carnivals and events of the local arts council. As one can detect from her comments noted above, the service experiences on Katherine. She concluded her essay by saying, “Now, instead of groaning when service opportunities arise, I will smile and pull someone along with me. I may have impacted others through this project, but the biggest impact was made on me.”
Congratulations to Katherine White from Nevada, winner of the 2006 NHS Scholarship.