Trend forecasting experts agree that Generation Z will prove to be one of the most impactful demographics in history. These young people, typically defined as those born between 1997 and 2012, are keenly aware of the problems we now face and are determined to do all they can to find solutions.

The 2022 scholarship winners at Peace Village Senior Living wholeheartedly embrace that commitment. Each scholarship winner, through their personal experiences and unique perspectives, are choosing paths that will make a real difference in our country and around the globe.

On a sunny evening in July, seven scholarship winners and their families were introduced to residents throughout the neighborhoods of Peace Village. Moving through Prairie Landings restaurant, the dining room at Circle Inn and to Lakeside Place restaurant, these winners were lauded and applauded by residents, staff and their peers.

Heather Pabisinski, Director of Human Resources at Peace Village, coordinated the scholarship contest. “Peace Village itself offers one scholarship and the residents fundraise themselves for about six weeks, with flyers and notices in the Village newsletter, for the other awards. This year, we awarded five scholarships totaling $11,000 to 2022 high school graduates who are members of our dining staff.”

A new scholarship opportunity was also introduced this year. “The Bill Lachat & Mary Jo Harper Scholarships were started by the daughters of our former resident Bill Lachet in his memory.” said Pabisinski. “The family offered two $1,000 to any dining staff member who wants to continue their education, be it in college or in the trades.”

Candidates must work at Peace Village with Morrison Dining Services. Pabisinski says candidates complete an online application, supply three letters of recommendation, list any academic awards and achievements, discuss extracurricular activities such as sports, dance or leadership roles and supply three years of grades. For the committee, the most intriguing item submitted is a 500-word essay explaining student experiences, goals and their reasons for choosing these goals. Pabisinski removes any identifying factors in their applications, erasing names, schools and genders so the selection committee is unbiased in their scoring.

Mary Jo Harper, who is on the committee that selects the winners of the Peace Village scholarships, said, “The kids are all so wonderful. I really wish they could all win. They are all such excellent students, with volunteer experience, jobs and good grades. The quality of these students is just very impressive with fantastic letters of recommendation.”

Harper notes, “We score the students in a formula, on a point system, taking into account their grades, activities and their volunteer experience. Pabisinski adds, “There is a total of 100 points possible and each committee member scores each application. The top scores are our winners.”

The winners of the 2022 Peace Village scholarships are Sophia Carroll, Madeline Casey, Izabella Kopec, Chelsea Madura and Nora Treacy. The selection committee included Peace Village residents Harper, Marilyn Werner, Marilyn Aspan, Bea Lyons and Yvonne Woulfe.

The winners of the first Bill Lachat & Mary Jo Harper scholarships are Patrick Gallagher and Daniella Pastoral. These winners were selected by the family of Bill LaChat, including Nicole Mendez and Jean Lachat.

Sophia Carroll is a 2022 graduate of Carl Sandburg High School, an Advanced Placement scholar and a member of the National Honor Society. She intends to earn a Masters in Special Education and a minor in Spanish from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Tutoring special needs children in District 135, Carroll has seen first hand the effects of COVID-19 on our children. “I have seen how much help they will need as we all move forward.” She has worked at Peace Village for 2 years and feels like a beloved grandchild to some of the residents. “We all know each other by name and we love seeing each other,” Carroll says.

Madeline Casey graduated with honors from Sandburg High School where she was a member of student council, cheer team, badminton team and Special Olympics Relay for Life. Casey will be attending University of Iowa in the fall, pursing studies in Business and Environmental and Sustainability Science. “I’ve always cared about the environment, but recently I decided I want to make a real difference to help reverse climate change,” says Casey. She is also interested in finding solutions for food sustainability and wildlife protection. This scholarship, says Casey’s dad Chris, will encourage Maddy and help her move forward.

Izabella Kopec is also a Sandburg High School graduate, member of the National Honor Society and an Advanced Placement scholar with distinction, participating in Art Club, Theater and going to the Illinois State Competition with Med Club. Kopec will be attending University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and majoring in Bioengineering. “I look forward to seeing how much we don’t know,” said Kopec. “I’m intrigued with using medical engineering to cure disease. I’m also very interested in prosthetics, especially of the eye. With all our advancements with legs, hands and fingers, we are very behind on developing eye replacements. I would like to be a part of solving that to restore vision.”

Chelsea Madura graduated from Amos Alonzo Stagg High School as an Advanced Placement Scholar with distinction and a member of the Spanish Honor Society. She is an Illinois State Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society. Madura will be attending Ohio State University to major in Neuroscience. “I am interested in the diagnosis and treatment of injury-induced sleep disorders. She plans on applying her scholarship to technology purchases. “There is so much drawing in science classes – cell structure, molecules, life processes. Having an iPad with that capability will be very helpful.” Madura was also impressed by the scholarship process at Peace Village. “The residents really took it seriously and read through everything. It’s also fun to be revealed now to the committee.”

Nora Treacy is a Sandburg High School graduate and received the District 230 Inspiring Student Award. Working with the school’s special needs students, Treacy was noted for treating each student with dignity, respect and gentle care. Her older brother was born with Autism Spectrum Disorder and this has motivated Treacy to attend Marquette University to study nursing. “I like to take care of people,” said Treacy, “so a medical career feels like a good path. Right now I am considering becoming a travel nurse or specializing in orthopedics.” Treacy loves working at Peace Village. “The people here are so welcoming and nice. Everyone is very happy to come to work.”

Nicole Mendez, the youngest of Bill Lachat’s five daughters, congratulated the winners of the Bill Lachat & Mary Jo Harper Scholarships and explained why creating this scholarship was important to the family. “Within a few months of moving here, my dad loved it. And then he met Mary Jo, the second love of his life. The dining room was one of his favorite places, enjoying wine and the kids who served here.”

Patrick Gallagher is a Lachat & Harper winner, graduating from Stagg High School and maintaining a healthy balance of academics, extracurricular activities and employment. He plans to attend Moraine Valley Community College to fulfill his general education courses and select his major. Gallagher says, “I know my mom is looking over me as an angel and helping me on this journey.” Mendez noted that Gallagher is working to make his dad proud, saying, “We feel the same way about our dad. Losing a parent is hard and we want to make our dad proud too,” said Mendez.

Daniella Pastoral is also a Lachat & Harper winner, attending St. Louis University for several semesters before deciding to return home to attend Moraine Valley Community College. Mendez said her family was impressed by Pastoral’s brutally honest essay about the challenges she has faced and her desire to change how mental health is viewed by different cultures and generations. Pastoral says, “I have really struggled with mental health issues and I am coming closer to home to take care of myself. I am studying psychology and hope to become a therapist. My high school counselor was really good – he saved my life – and I want to be like that for somebody too.”

Generation Z is determined to reshape our communities with education, science and technology. Scholarships from Peace Village and the Lachat and Harper families will give these seven scholars a boost in those efforts as they continue their higher education journeys, just when they need it most.

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