Winnetka Club honors scholarship award winners

Inside the Hadley School Garden Wednesday evening, The Winnetka Club honored its 11 scholarships winners for 2014.

In total, $40,000 was divided amongst the recipients, which is more than $2,000 greater than last year’s total scholarship amount.

“It’s about these amazing kids,” said Club President Marla Bagan. “The parents are just beaming, and it’s a wonderful experience.”

Though not all were able to attend, those present met Club members and talked about their future plans as they attend college this fall.

Among those present was Shemar James of Evanston, who graduated from North Shore Country Day School this spring. James self-published his own science fiction fantasy book in 2012, and hopes his interests can lead to a career.

“I definitely have a passion for writing,” James said. “I do know I love being creative and expressing myself through storytelling.”

The book, titled “The Adventures of Zorax Zoomster,” was first written by James in seventh grade, and he’s already working on a sequel. James plans to attend DePaul University and will major in film and communications.

“I’ve gotten into videos as well,” James said. “To combine my work into film and see my writing in that form would be great.”

Fellow North Shore Country Day School graduate Becca Slotkin, of Evanston, plans to attend Vassar College this fall.

During the application process, Slotkin said the Club’s members asked many questions, specifically about her extracurricular activities of basketball, volleyball and her theater work. In addition to writing and directing three short plays, Slotkin was a member of the poetry and performance club, and was thrilled to receive the scholarship.

“I was so happy,” Slotkin said. “I was excited to have won something. I was nervous during the interview, but wasn’t scared. College is really expensive and it’s going to help.”

In the years of offering scholarships, The Winnetka Club has donated more than $175,000 to graduating seniors in New Trier Township. Though the Club has undergone changes recently, its philanthropic arm is still going strong with a record dollar amount being awarded this year.

“We kind of get to know them as opposed to just reading a piece of paper,” Bagan said of the application process. “We want to know them and hear their stories. They are selected based on need and merit.”

New Trier High School graduate Melissa Mickiewicz, of Winnetka, plans to study chemistry or biology at Emory University, and hopes to do some work at the Centers for Disease Control as well.

“I was always interested in science and medicine,” Mickiewicz said. “I think it would be great to get into the research field.”

Mickiewicz has volunteered at Passages Hospice, runs her own dog walking business and speaks fluent Polish. She enjoyed the interview process and being honored for more than her work in the classroom.

“It was such a rush opening that email saying I received it,” Mickiewicz said. “It was fun for me to receive the award as a whole and not just for my grades. It was very rewarding.”

Other recipients include Jillian Sunnygard of Northfield; Emile de Castro, Susana Gutierrez and Christian Lopez of Wilmette; Dylan Cable and Katherine Shade of Glencoe; Kathryn Miller of Chicago and Iman Darwish of Lincolnwood.

The graduates represent New Trier High School, North Shore Country Day School and Regina Dominican. Students from Loyola Academy were also eligible.

More information about The Winnetka Club and its philanthropic efforts is available at www.thewinnetkaclub.com.

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