Rodrigues Named 21st Century Scholar

Lillian Rodrigues of Mendota was named 21st Cen-tury Scholar at the twelfth annual 21st Century Schol-ars Society dinner at Uptown Grill in La Salle Thursdaynight.

Rodrigues, who received $3,000 for the award, plans to transfer to Northern Illinois University next fall to major in microbiology, eventually become a physician’s assistant and return home to practice rural medicine.

Other finalists included Nicholas Bollis and NicolasMartinez of Peru and Noemi Gonzalez of La Salle; each received $1,500.

As president of IVCC’s Hispanic Leadership Team, Rodrigues led a fundraising campaign for victims of nat- ural disasters in South America and provided hygiene kits and other comfort items to children going into fos- ter care.

As vice president of the college’s Red Cross chap-ter, she’s helped run blood drives, installed fire alarms, packed trailers for disaster relief and earned certifica- tions in First Aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and shelter setup.

She is a volunteer at OSF St. Paul Medical Center in Mendota and was a turor for third graders in a Hispanic classroom last year.

In his recommendation letter for Rodrigues, sociol- ogy instructor Jared Olesen lauded her “extraordinary character and ability,” adding her “outstanding work ethic was evident from the start.”

Olesen continued, “Lillian possesses the hallmark characteristics of successful people. She is goal-driven and works methodically to achieve those goals. She ischarming, soft-spoken yet assertive, and very inquisi- tive.”

The daughter of Rosa and Dennis Watson was bornin California before moving to Mendota at age 3.

Bollis, the son of Don and Jill Urban-Bollis, is plan- ning a career as a pediatric cardiologist. A top student at La Salle-Peru High School, he competed for the chess, debate, math, tennis, soccer, scholastic bowl and bassfishing teams.

Bollis organized a leadership camp for 60 Boy Scoutsand for his Eagle Scout project led construction of a brick walkway in front of the one-room schoolhouse in Utica. He has participated in church missions across thecountry the past five summers in impoverished areas and sites damaged by floods and hurricanes.

In her recommendation letter for Bollis, biologyinstructor Lauri Carey said, “As he enters the medical profession, Nic will have the skills and background to be successful. In lab, he does excellent dissection and purposefully spends extra time with the material.”

Gonzalez, the daughter of Juan and Alma Gonzalez,plans to major in nursing, earn her RN, BSN and MSNand eventually become a nurse practitioner. She works as a CNA and plays for IVCC’s soccer team.

In addition, she is halfway through a six-year enlist- ment with the Illinois National Guard where she is part


Submitted Photo

Finalists for 21st Century Scholar included Noemi Gonzalez (left), Nicolas Martinez, Lillian Rodrigues and Nicholas Bollis. Rodrigues was named 21st Century Scholar.

of a unit responsible for responding to chemical attacks. In her recommendation letter for Gonzalez, Englishinstructor Nora Villarreal said, “I am grateful to have someone like her sworn to protect the United States – someone tough enough to do the job, intelligent enough to do it well, and empathetic enough to understand thepotential ramifications of what she may be asked to do.” Like Rodrigues and Bollis, Martinez plans to transfer to NIU and eventually attend medical school. The sonof Jason and Olga Martinez led a fundraising drive for Puerto Rican hurricane relief last year for the Hispanic Leadership Team and is a member of the Student Gov-

ernment Association programming board.
He has worked extensively on Nuclear Magnetic

Resonance (NMR) Kinetics research as part of an IVCC chemistry class.

At LP, he wrestled and played soccer and baseball while also participating in student council, L.E.A.D. and the Link Crew.

Carey, who also wrote Martinez’s recommendationletter, said, “It was clear to me early on that Nico wasgoing to be one of my top students. As a tutor in the peer tutoring center, Nico gets an opportunity to hone his own skills and help other students. I have heard Nico is an excellent tutor.”

21st Century Merit Award winners receiving $750

• • • • • • • • •

Ryan Coon of Streator, son of David Coon and Angela Mullen, chemistry;

William Faletti of Granville, son of Bill and Wendy Faletti, meteorology;

Lauren Giordano of Peru, daughter of Ken and Karie Giordano, communications;

Bryanna Hoskins of Utica, daughter of Brian and Buffy Hoskins, nursing;

Trevor Keegan of Ottawa, son of Keith and Dawn Keegan, software engineering;

Andrew Noble of Ottawa, son of David andHeather Noble, electrical engineering;

Shane Peek of Rutland, son of Chad Peek and Jennifer Casey, library science;

Jenna Pubentz of Ottawa, daughter of Mike andLinda Pubentz, architecture;

Trevor Samolinski of La Salle, son of ScottSamolinski and Tracy Hocking, physical thera- py;

Connor Whitten of Cherry, son of James and Stacy Whitten, computer science; and

Clayton Zelenik of Princeton, son of Scott andJodee Zelenik, pre-pharmacy.


Alison Anthony of Oglesby, daughter of David and Susan Anthony, wildlife biology;

Xavier Braboy of Dalzell, daughter of Patrick and Cheryl Braboy, education;

In all, 17 students received more than $17,000, and

since its founding, in 2007 the Society has awarded over$160,000 to 137 students.

Currently made up of more than 30 members each contributing $500 annually, the Society rewards some ofIVCC’s most promising returning students. To qualify,students need a minimum 3.5 GPA as well as extensive college involvement and community service.