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NIU honors five Forward, Together Forward scholars

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – This year’s Forward, Together Forward scholars include a biomedical engineer who did service work in Tanzania, a harpist who has written award-winning plays and a Spanish major active in Spring Break volunteer trips.

The five scholars, who were recognized at Northern Illinois University on Sunday, exemplify the commitment to service and academics that characterize the five students who died in the Feb. 14, 2008, campus shooting, NIU Provost Ray Alden said. Each of the five will receive a $4,000 scholarship for the 2013-2014 academic year.

“The quality of the students, the fact that many of them are still maintaining 4.0 GPAs and are involved in many activities is really commendable,” said Alden, who added he also was impressed with their variety of academic specialties.

The five winners were chosen from among 37 applicants who wrote essays about what it means to be an NIU Huskie, about character and about goals for helping the community, according to a news release. They also described how they would honor the memories of Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace and Daniel Parmenter.

The scholars are:

• Taylor Bogan, a sophomore from Crete majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in applied math. While battling Hodgkin lymphoma, she has maintained a 3.5 GPA and traveled to Tanzania last year with Engineers Without Borders to upgrade a school so it could provide three meals daily to its 600 students.

• Caitlin Cavannaugh, an acting major with a 4.0 GPA, started a volunteer organization in her hometown of Willow Springs that provides live music for people in nursing homes, retirement homes and hospices. She also recently spent three months in the Moscow Art Threater School in Russia and founded the 4U Benefit Concert, an annual benefit concert for mission centers and homeless shelters.

• Guadalupe Lopez, an elementary education major from Glendale Heights, is an NIU Research Rookie who created a case study on a single Latina mother and her child’s special education. She has volunteered in local bilingual classrooms and with programs encouraging young girls to start thinking of college.

• Sarah Pollack, a junior majoring in Spanish, is leading an NIU Alternative Spring Break group after participating in past trips to Oklahoma to care for wild and abandoned animals and to Florida to help with oil spill restoration. She also has been active with the Latino Resource Center and the NIU Spanish Club.

• Evan Wittke, a junior majoring in anthropology and biology, wants to become a research physician after his mother died in March of complications from a stroke. He works with a cancer research team in the laboratory of Biological Sciences Chairman Barrie Bode.

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