Twenty-one high school seniors in McLennan County are being recognized for their volunteerism and service in the 41th annual Youth Citizenship Awards sponsored by the Rotary Club of Waco and the Tribune-Herald.
The students are usually honored at a spring luncheon held by the Rotary Club, but for the second year COVID-19 is limiting recognition to a socially distanced award presentation. They will be recognized at a drive-thru reception Monday at the Lions Den.
Each nominee was chosen by his or her high school. Students submitted a detailed application listing their school achievements and volunteer activities.
A letter of recommendation from someone familiar with their volunteer efforts is part of the application.
Judges use the Rotary Club’s motto of “Service Above Self” in selecting five finalists and from those, one is chosen the winner. The winner receives a $4,000 scholarship while the four finalists receive scholarships worth $2,000 each.
Parents: Daniel and Terry Ramirez
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Student Council president; National Honor Society vice president; homecoming queen; cheer captain; cross country; track; FFA chapter vice president; FFA district president; Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo Sweethearts; Longhorn inclusive athletics peer assistant for Special Olympics.
Plans: Attend Baylor University and study political science; on pre-law track to attend Baylor Law School and become a family law attorney.
Bishop Louis Reicher Catholic
Parents: Brian and Kimberly McHugh
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Class president; National Honor Society; Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Award; TAPPS academic all-state football; powerlifting; track and field; volunteer with Operation Stand Down Central Texas; Kiwanis Club volunteer; American Red Cross first aid certification.
Plans: Attend Baylor University and major in medical humanities, minor in business.
Parents: Bryan and Veronica McDonough
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Ranked No. 1 in class; class president; academic UIL; National Honor Society; Super Centex softball first team and all-state softball; select softball; cross country; track and field; PALS; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; volunteer with Pack of Hope, Meals on Wheels; active in Renew Church Waco.
Plans: Attend Baylor University on softball scholarship, work toward earning nursing degree to become a nurse in Waco.
Parents: Brian and Detria Trevino
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Ranked first in class; National Honor Society; student council president; UIL spelling and literary criticism; second team all-district and academic all-district softball; cheerleading captain; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen nominee; volunteer with Waco Challenger League.
Plans: Attend University of Texas at Austin and pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology in hopes of eventually having own clinic and practice.
China Spring High
Parents: Rocky and Kimberly Coe
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Fellowship of Christian Athletes president; National Honor Society; PALS; academic all-state football, Super Centex second team football; basketball all-district second team; golf; speaker at Fields of Faith events; Harris Creek Baptist Church youth group; volunteer at Talitha Koum, Friends for Life.
Plans: Attend Texas Tech University in Lubbock and major in kinesiology. Feels a calling to go into some type of ministry.
Parents: Kevin and Rebecca Gaither
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society; district MVP and Super Centex Defensive Player of the Year in football; academic all-state honorable mention; basketball; baseball; track; volunteer with annual food drive; put together Christmas shoeboxes to help less fortunate.
Plans: Attend Sam Houston State University on a football scholarship and major in business/entrepreneurship.
Parent: Kelley Norcross
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Beta Club; senior class vice president; junior class president; tennis; volleyball manager; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; PALS; FCCLA; academic UIL; algebra tutor; mission trip to South Texas; vacation Bible school volunteer; volunteer at Westview Manor nursing home.
Plans: Attend Texas Christian University and major in nutrition. Wants to become a registered dietician nutritionist.
Tiana M. Eason
Eagle Christian Academy
Parents: Patrick and Karen Eason
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society secretary; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; gold in VASE art competition; all-district volleyball second team; academic all-state track and field; basketball; teach children at church through Awana; active in school service days and Servathon.
Plans: Will spend a year of family service, then attend University of Texas at Tyler to study art education. Wants to be a teacher.
La Vega High
Parents: Humberto Montes, Blanca Montes
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Class president; National Honor Society president; student council; head drum major of marching band; UIL academics; History Fair; Starfish mentoring program; volunteer at two nursing homes and church school teacher’s aide.
Plans: Attend college and major in neuroscience in pre-med program. Wants to become a neurosurgeon and start a nonprofit for women in third-world countries to receive proper health care.
Parents: Mike and Jana Ritchie
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Salutatorian; National Honor Society; Miss Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo queen; FCCLA president; cheer captain; Teen Leadership Waco; created Holiday Hugs and Handshakes project for nursing homes; volunteered with Challenger League, Meals on Wheels.
Plans: Attend either Texas A&M University and major in allied health, or Texas Tech University and major in kinesiology in pre-physician assistant program. Wants to be an emergency medicine physician assistant.
Parents: Jeff and Monica Pechacek
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Student council president; National Honor Society; basketball; volleyball; golf; state-certified student athletic trainer; academic UIL; Heart O’ Texas Sweetheart of the Year and runner-up Miss Heart O’ Texas; CCE teacher at church; Little League basketball coach for fifth- and sixth-grade girls.
Plans: Attend Baylor University’s Honors College and double-major in business and psychology, then join Baylor’s postgraduate psychology program for doctorate. Wants to open her own mental health practice.
Parents: Bryan and Caren Bowling
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Presidential Scholar; class president (5 years); student council vice president (2 years); National Honor Society; volleyball; UIL academics; Interact Club president; Link Crew; Pack of Hope; created Interact Closet to provide clothes, hygiene items for students in need.
Plans: Attend Tulane University's honors college and major in cellular and molecular biology, then attend its medical school. Wants to become a reproductive endocrinologist.
Avery Rose Hammond
Parents: Scott and Kimberly Hammond
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Salutatorian; National Honor Society; member of first all-girl robotics team and current captain; National Charity League; cross country captain; soccer; First Woodway Student Leadership Team; helped create Prom Closet with National Charity League; volunteer at The Cove.
Plans: Attend Baylor University as a health science studies major with pre-med concentration and then attend medical school. Hopes to have a career in obstetrics and gynecology.
Tanna Paige Pruett
Parents: Josh and Tisha Pruett
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society; student council vice president; basketball all-district first team; volleyball; softball; track; FCCLA; Spanish Club; robotics; Meals on Wheels for two summers; Better Day cleanups; active in church.
Plans: Looks to earn a four-year degree in nursing or law enforcement and have a career in one of those fields.
Rapoport Academy Meyer High
Parents: William Ortega, Cindy Ortega
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Student council representative; gained 63 dual-credit hours; yearbook; track and field; cross country; involved in Triple Win internship that built mobile ax-throwing trailer for Waco Pedal Tours; Upward Bound volunteer.
Plans: Attend Texas State University and major in electrical engineering. Wants to work in the aerospace industry.
Parents: Patrick and Darby Ehlers
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society; FFA; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; marching band; academic all-district and volleyball second team; track; softball; 4-H; vacation Bible school group leader; youth group; hosted blood drives; raised money for Christmas gifts and meals.
Plans: Attend Concordia University in Austin and major in Christian education. Wants to work with Christian Youth Camp Ministries.
Parents: Glenn Hoelscher, Lisa Hoelscher
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Projected valedictorian; National Honor Society president; student council vice president; 4-H officer at council and state level; FFA officer and Star Farmer Award; academic UIL; Salvation Army bell ringer; packaged meals for needy; 4-H club helped provide wheelchair for local child.
Plans: Attend Texas A&M University and major in biomedical sciences, then attend medical school. Wants to open own clinic to practice endocrinology.
Parents: Felipe Santos, Leticia Santos
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society president; 3-time Waco ISD Academic Achiever; golf team captain; Texas Association of Future Educators president; Upward Bound; volunteer with AIM Waco; initiated NHS staff appreciation slideshow to show gratitude during pandemic.
Plans: Attend Baylor University and major in elementary education. Wants to become a teacher in Waco ISD and eventually a professor.
Vanguard College Preparatory
Parents: John and Angela Lowe
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Class president (4 years); student body co-vice president; Vanguard Ambassador; National Honor Society; Rotary Challenge team; orchestra; chamber ensemble; Waco Youth Symphony Orchestra; First Baptist Waco youth group; Cameron Park Zoo Crew.
Plans: Earn bachelor’s degree in environmental science at Baylor University or in wildlife and fisheries science at Texas A&M University. Hopes to have career in conservation of animals and the environment.
Parents: Juan Guevara, Camerina Mendoza
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: Projected valedictorian; National Honor Society; Waco ISD Academic Achiever; UIL State Solo & Ensemble; student council; UIL science, calculator applications and number sense; Interact Club; volunteer with Caritas, Food for Families and Toys for Tots.
Plans: Attend University of Texas at Austin and major in biochemistry on pre-med pathway. Wants to become a doctor, with interests in psychiatry, surgery and pediatrics.
Parents: Jon and Sharon Hlavenka
Activities, honors and volunteer highlights: National Honor Society; DAR Good Citizen Award; Key Club; Junior Historians; FFA; softball; powerlifting; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; student athletic trainer; Junior Catholic Daughters of the Americas; Teen ACTS; mission trips to Honduras; sponsors a child in Honduras through Pedrina Project.
Plans: Attend Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, on a softball scholarship and pursue degree in health science. Wants to become an athletic trainer.