2020 YICU Awards

YICU 2020 Youth Nominees

Akhila Arla is a second-generation immigrant who grew up in America. She loves traveling and being involved in the community. Akhila likes voicing her opinions and being true to herself. Although am freshman at Normal Community High School, she loves the sense of responsibility she has, including the sense of doing something that matters. She acknowledges she has such a long way to go to ensure her life turns out the way she wants it to and believes YICU is a great start.

Non-Profit Akhila Supports: Community Health Care Clinic

Mihir Bendre is a senior at Normal Community School. He is passionate about physics, math, and chemistry. He likes playing soccer and frisbee, reading books and watching movies and enjoys volunteering. In the future, Mihir wants to work in sustainable waste disposal or renewable energy in the future, because he recognizes them as big problems.

Non-Profit Mihir Supports: Promise Council

Nikhit Bhamidipati, is an eighth grader at George L Evans Jr. High. In addition to volunteering for many organizations, he takes an interest in basketball and track. He enjoys cooking and making snacks for himself. His favorite subjects are math and reading and he likes to travel to India to visit his relatives and also enjoys traveling to other places.

Non-Profit Nikhit Supports: Unity Community Center

Satvika Boyina is a sophomore at University High School. As a young child, her parents taught her to be grateful for the life she lives. A few years ago, after going outside the country she saw how many people live in poverty and was devastated. From that point on, Satvika wanted to make sure that whatever she does should have an impact on making the world a better place and is trying to serve her community to the best of her ability.

Non-Profit Satvika Supports: Community Cancer Center

Dhyan Chaudhari is an eighth grader at Evans Junior High School. His favorite subjects are math and science and he loves reading books, playing the saxophone, and solving Rubi’s Cubes. His best time is 19.75 seconds. Dhyan has been part of Ekal Helping Hands Group and has volunteered in organizing several events like serving breakfast at the Salvation Army, setting up water bottle stations in Miller Park, Secret Santa, helping out the local Hindu temple during various festivals.

Non-Profit Dhyan Supports: Project Oz

Chloe Cope is a Junior at Bloomington High School. She is active in her school’s band, theatre, and soccer program, as well as her church youth group. Chloe has participated in student government for 3 years now and has been a drama club officer for 2 years. She hopes to go to college and join the FBI as a behavioral profiler in the future.

Non-Profit Chloe Supports: Wishbone Canine Rescue

Gavin Cunningham’s compassion for others and passion for social justice propels his voice to promote positive change in our community. His four years on the NCWHS speech team provided skills as he co-founded the Bloomington Normal Youth Activists and held leadership roles in Not in Our School. His commitment to service has also led him to the pursuit of a degree in Special Education at Illinois State. He aspires to become an elected official following his teaching tenure.

Non-Profit Gavin Supports: Not In Our Town/School

Heather Dawson is a freshman at Heartland Community College where she is studying Agriculture Business. She has been an active member of the Olympia Pacesetters 4-H Club in Stanford. She spends many hours of community service working at the club’s Helping Hands food pantry and community garden that provides fresh produce to the food pantry. Heather enjoys caring for her goats and chickens and taking pictures.

Non-Profit Heather Supports: Helping Hands Community Center

Rachel Dawson is a junior in high school. She is president of the Olympia Pacesetters 4-H club and a founding member of McLean County Hunger Ambassadors. She is active in her church and is a member of the Heyworth Christian Youth Group. Rachel loves playing travel softball. She takes care of her goats and other animals and works with her sisters in the home garden at the family farm. Community service is an important part of her life.

Non-Profit Rachel Supports: Helping Hands Community Center

LeeAnn Garlish is originally from Pekin, Illinois. She came to Bloomington from Chicago, based solely on the fact that she wanted her life to be more about helping others than it had been. Lee Ann has always studied and loved the art of theatre and hopes to show others this avenue of Creativity. She is a student at ISU and works as a staff member for Seedling Theatre, a branch of Illinois Voices Theatre.

Non-Profit LeeAnn Supports: Voices Theatre – Seedling Theatre

Isha Gollapudi, is a freshman at NCHS. She is very involved in the local art community. Public art especially interests her because it is not just beautification, but it can bring awareness on many social, cultural, and local topics. During the current pandemic, she partnered with various organizations to paint for a purpose –  to thank, motivate and support the healthcare professionals and essential workers in our community. Isha drives the innovative team for local charity Little Free Pantry, where she is responsible for bringing new projects and concepts to life with creative ideas.

Non-Profit Isha Supports: Community Cancer Center

Amaya Hursey. Is a sophomore at Normal Community West High School. She is a member of the Black Student Union, Not In Our School, the Jule Foundation, Jack and Jill of America, and Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church. She plans to attend an Historical Black University such as Spelman or Howard University. She wants to be either a psychologist or a lawyer. She plans to become a lawyer because the system is made to be against anything a Black man/woman says. She wants “to help change and give African Americans the chance at this thing called life without being sent to death.”

Non-Profit Amaya Supports: The Jule Foundation

Marissa Jones is a graduate of Illinois State University where she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Relations. Currently, she is in the graduate program at ISU where she is in progress to receive her Master’s of Science in Communication. Marissa desires to work in Agency Public Relations with a focus in Non-Profit. She has worked in the Warehouse, Mission Mart, and in the Kitchen to prepare meals at Home Sweet Home Ministries.

Non-Profit Marissa Supports: Project Oz

Jasmyn Jordan is a senior at Normal Community West High School. She is the founder and president of the Normal West Black Student Union, secretary of National English Honors Society, Vice President of Communications on Student Council, a freshmen mentor in the FMP program, and runs for Lady Wildcat Track and Field. She is an active member of the National Honors Society and Promise Council. Jasmyn is a Master Junior Zookeeper at Miller Park Zoo, and member of the Youth Action Board of the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation.

Non-Profit Jasmyn Supports: Youth Engaged in Philanthropy

Madyson McSwain possesses many strengths including being a passionate and enthusiastic student who has proven to be reliable, trustworthy and honest. She also shares she is kind, smart, and loves to help others. Madyson is a valued leader, holding the position of Treble Choir Class President and one of the Captains of the varsity Lady Raiders. Madyson volunteers at her church and her grandmother’s nursing home.

Non-Profit Madyson Supports: Boys and Girls Club

Grace Melick, is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Olympia High School and is a freshman at Rhodes College. At Olympia she participated in chamber choir, plays, musicals, student council, NHS, and speech. She was the 2020 Illinois High School Association State Runner-Up in Oratorical Declamation. Her interests include public speaking, reading, and learning. She is studying sociology and wants to be a trial lawyer.

Non-Profit Grace Supports: Danvers-Carlock Food Pantry

Dhriti Mudigonda. is a junior at Normal Community High School. He is involved in several organizations including Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and the tennis team. She is also a part of the Little Free Pantry located in Normal. Dhriti is also very involved in the Hindu community and her culture, and which she attributes to making her who she is today.

Non-Profit Dhriti Supports: Community Cancer Center

Daja Parker, who is from Chicago, and was very involved in the Baptist church. As she grew older, she became more independent and worked at the Chicago Park District. She attended Chicago Bulls College Prep where she learned to think more critically and serve her community. She is a fourth-year student at ISU working towards a bachelor’s degree in political communication and minor in political science. Daja wants to be a lawyer and be the difference she would like to see in the world. Daja volunteers with the Revolutionary Unite group and civic engagement department at ISU.

Non-Profit Daja Supports: Bloomington-Normal YMCA

Saraschandrika Puvvala is a ninth grader at University High School. Her favorite thing to do is to spend time with family and friends. In her free time, she likes the outdoors, singing, playing tennis, and badminton. She has been a part of Ekal Helping Hands, Balagokulam, SEWA and Yuva Club for several years. These organizations have helped her get more experience with being a leader. Saraschandrika loves serving people around her and has been a part of many community service activities.

Non-Profit Saraschandrika Supports: Ekal Vidyalaya

Erica Rosenberger is a Junior at University High School. She uses youth voices to push for a brighter and more equitable future for the coming generations. Prior to being involved in many activities at her school, Erica felt voiceless as she recognized the need for a change in her school which resulted in her rebooting the Not In Our School at U-High. Heavily involved in NIOS’s Steering Committee along with other not-for-profit organizations, Erica is given the space to speak out and encourage others to speak out about the intolerances they see.

Non-Profit Erica Supports: Not In Our Town/School

Rickiya Ross is seventeen years old and attends Normal Community West High School. She is part of her school’s Black Student Union and has taken on the role as the Historian, which sheds light on Black history and culture. She often gives back to her community by serving the homeless, comforting the sick, and educating her community. Rickiya lives by her favorite quote “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” (Matthew 7:12) which she will take into her future to keep her grounded in her morals and values.

Non-Profit Rickiya Supports: Special Olympics

Sharanya Rotte is a Sixteen year old who attends Normal Community High School. When she started doing community service, she did not know the real meaning behind it but after a couple years of volunteering, she came to understand the real meaning. She enjoys spending weekends serving whether it is with the elderly, giving out food to the hungry, or picking up trash. Sharayana serves as a Co-Lead of the local Little Food Pantry, coordinates events for SEWA International and participates in FBLA.

Non-Profit Sharanya Supports: Unity Community Center

Shashi Salavath is a local youth volunteer and an eighth grader at Evans Jr. High School.  His hobbies include playing chess, soccer and is a member of a 4-H robotics club. He is very passionate about giving back to the community that has already given so much to him. Shashi looks forward to continuing to volunteer for the next several years. He has served on numerous service projects including Little Food Pantry, SEWA International and Bloomington-Normal Area Scholastic Chess.

Non-Profit Shashi Supports: West Bloomington Revitalization Project

Lineeth Sareddy is a student at Normal Community High School. As a young child, he was shy and soft-spoken. One could commonly find him hiding in the back, and would always be the one scared to raise his hand. As he grew through the years, he learned more about the world around him. By slowly building his confidence and networking with other people, he has grown to set new sights for himself. He now values and cares for many things in life, rather than being a shy and unconfident kid only worried about the little things. At School, Lineeth serves on the student council and volunteers with Key Club and St. Jude’s Club and participates in FBLA.

Non-Profit Lineeth Supports: Community Cancer Center

Aditi Sharma is Seventeen and attends Normal Community High School where she is co-leader of Not In Our School and is on the NIOS Steering Committee. She also founded the Inclusive Education Coalition. She believes her efforts help make the schools safe and education system fair and more inclusive.  She enjoys music, reading and watching Netflix.

Non-Profit Aditi Supports: Not In Our Town/School

Yvin Shin is a Korean-American high senior who attends University High School. She serves on the Not In Our School and Bloomington-Normal Welcoming leadership teams within her town of Normal, Illinois, and is the president of U-High’s student Diversity Committee. Yvin also participates in speech and debate, Student Senate, and plays the cello and played tennis before the novel Coronavirus pandemic. She plans to major in International Relations with the potential of also majoring or minoring in Cognitive Science or Applied Mathematics, and hopes to eventually become a professor in her field of study.

Non-Profit Yvin Supports: Not In Our Town/School

Eden Susong is a junior at University High School. She uses her voice and love of music to spread awareness and teach younger youth to find their voices. Through countless organizations at her school, church, and around town, she loves to volunteer her already sparse time to help those around her. Her love of helping others feel heard and safe, transcends leadership and happiness. Eden loves seeing others smile and find their own unique place in this world. Eden wants to continue to dedicate her time to helping the homeless population in this community find their place and start to sustain themselves.

Non-Profit Eden Supports: Project Oz

Sonika Tamilarasan is a sophomore at Normal Community High School. She has volunteered with SEWA International, Ekal Vidyala, Salvation Army and through other clubs at school. She is an enthusiastic person and looks forward to making a positive impact in the community. Sonika volunteers with Ekal and at school, she serves on the student council and participates in FBLA.

Non-Profit Sonika Supports: The Immigration Project

Aniya Thompson is a senior at Normal Community High School who self describes as “a natural-born leader” who has a passion for helping others. She is President of the Choir, Theatre, and Student Union at NCHS. She is an activist against injustice whenever they arrive, and is extremely determined. She developed  a love of music at a young age, and wants to use that passion to help inspire and teach others just like her. Aniya volunteers with CIDSO Buddy Walk, Gift Drive with Zeta Phi Beta, Turkey Delivery with Home Sweet Home Ministries and Freshman Mentorship Program at NCHS.

Non-Profit Aniya Supports: Not In Our Town/School

Justin Turner is Sixteen & a student at Normal Community West High School. When he first began providing community service, he did not know the real meaning behind it, but now understands what service is and has found a true passion for volunteering and serving his community. He spends his weekend serving the community, by spending time with the elderly, helping give food to the hungry or picking up trash. He loves the community because of the great opportunities and support it has given him. Justin says that serving the community is something he can’t imagine not doing.

Non-Profit Justin Supports: The Jule Foundation

Addison “Addi”  Weaver is a junior at Bloomington High School who believes that every moment is a possibility for positive change. A leader in BHS Promise Council (BHSPC) and Not In Our School, Addi encourages students to use their voices and uplift their classmates. She joined the BHSPC board her freshman year. As the Chair of BHSPC, she works to create safe spaces within her school community for all students. These opportunities have given her the confidence to speak up and grow into a leader within her school community. Addi is also the Historian of the BHS Drama Club.

Non-Profit Addison Supports: Not In Our Town/School


YICU 2020 Team Nominees

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Ekal Helping Hands is a leadership and service team in McLean County. While it started as some friends trying to make a difference, it now has 50+ students, ranging from the ages of 7-18! The team has organized and participated in numerous service activities including: Valentine’s day at senior citizen centers, cooking and serving food at the Salvation Army Shelter, and creating care packages for US soldiers serving overseas. During the pandemic they initiated zoom calls with community leaders as guest speakers, ensuring youth stayed connected during uncertain times. The team hopes to continue making a difference in the future!

Non-Profit Ekal Helping Hands Supports: Ekal Vidyalaya

Akshayasri MuppuruAmulya AcharyaAnchita SayaniAnisha AmaravadiAvani RaiDhyan Chaudhari Divya BhookyaGomati SomasundaramIsha GollapudiJanani DharmarajanJoshitha BodavulaKarthika Nair Keshav SagiKrishiv SreejithMaya GopinathanMihir BendreNikhit BhamidipatiOjas Shah Pranathi GantiPranav BhookyaPranavi ChagantiPritha ChatterjeeSaraschandrika PuvvalaSatvika Boyina Shachi SharadSharanya SrivastavaShashi SalavathShreenija DaggavoluShreni JainSiri Harish Snigdha TalasuSonika TamilarasanSri JaladiSuhana KashinathappaVineetha Gurrala
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The Normal West Black Student Union welcomes students of all races. This student-led organization promotes positivity and acceptance through informing others of black culture; strives for academic excellence; develops leaders; increases student participation inside and outside of the school community; and aids humanity through volunteerism and community service. The Normal West Black Student Union has been an organization since May 2019. This organization has hosted donation drives, led Black History Month festivities, organized rallies and marches, and much more!

Non-Profit The Normal West Black Student Union Supports: Child Protection Network

Airies WoodsAlisha Wallace-LockettAmaya HurseyAmon BrockAndrea BrownAndrew Levitt Ariana BertrandAryelle ThoennesAshlyn GivensAshyanna WatsonAudra FishAustin Feaman Ava MillerAvery GibsonCaitlin SmithCarmella AndersonCarter BergeronCassidy Chandler Cerenity AndrewsCheyenne RodriguezChristian JoaquinChristianaConnor Henson-StroudCora Vogelsand Devin WhitseyEli PittmanElizabeth HapgoodEllie DigginsEllie MonagleEmerrie Coppage Gabe Teplitz-CrawfordGianna GlassGrace StormHannah GaffIayanna ScottIsaac Demosthenes I yanla Allen BensonJakarri Thorton-CarterJamyiah JeffersonJasmine TenninJasmyn JordanJaye’ Eau’ Patton Jemeriya JeffersonJessica UphoffJonathan ThurmanJordan ThomasJulianna SadikuJustin Turner Kai Marie GibsonKaleahKamyra WilliamsKarizma RutterKaylen GammonsKemyiah Strong Ketsia KatandaKyleigh WeirKylie BlackLamaya FindleyLaure DiamonikaLily Lorelai KuchefskiMaddie BeirneMaddie BeirneMakayla VinsonMariahMariela Arias Marissa HaglerMia PostlewaiteMikhael CrawfordMonay DuvendackNaya SimoneNichole Pearl Noelle BushPresley MilesRickiya RossRocoya HenrySahara WilliamsSamantha Peterson Sicilia RenaSophia WhiteakerSpencer PontiusSylvia TechmanskiSymone DavisTaylor Miller Tabria Kirkwood-WilliamsTaylor SlabeTaylor ThompsonUndrellZhakir Smith

YICU 2020 Advocate Nominees

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Helping Hands Community Center(HHCC) is a community service-learning project started and sustained by youth of the Olympia Pacesetters 4-H Club and other youth volunteers. The food pantry serves the residents of Stanford and Allin Township. The clothing exchange is free and open to anyone. The youth plan, direct, and execute programs and projects to enhance the center. This resource is developed to meet the needs of families in need.

Non-Profit Helping Hands Community Center Supports: Helping Hands Community Center

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Youth Engaged in Philanthropy(YEP), a youth-led initiative under the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, is a group of 25-30 high school students from Dewitt, Livingston, Logan and McLean Counties with a $10,000 philanthropic budget to allocate grant funds to local youth-focused initiatives.

Non-Profit Youth Engaged in Philanthropy Supports: Boys and Girls Club


YICU 2020 Mentor Nominees

Carolyn Hansen holds two degrees in education from The Ohio State University. She was the Program Director at the Student Union at University of Northern Iowa and the International Administrator for Circle K International (collegiate group of Kiwanis International). After a 20 year career in insurance, mostly in learning and development, she completed her career by serving as the 4-H/Youth Development Educator for University of Illinois Extension in McLean County. Carolyn has lived in eight states and in each state she has been a volunteer in 4-H and Kiwanis. She is currently president of the Kiwanis Club of the Olympia area, which she also chartered.

Non-Profit Carolyn Supports: Helping Hands Community Center

Shri Narayan Chandak has been fortunate to see life in its entirety. He grew up in two rural villages in India, each without electricity, phones or any modern amenities. Soon after graduating from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, he started working and met his future wife, Asha. They started their married life in Chicago land, and moved to Bloomington. Here, both of his daughters got their college education at ISU, UIUC and Columbia in Law and Medicine. Shri Narayan volunteers with Toastmasters, Rotary Club, Interfaith activities, Youth camps, education, and rural development. He initiated the annual Diwali Food Drive for local charities, youth camps and G-LIFE, efforts he has been collaborating with Youth for the last two decades in Central Illinois.

Non-Profit Shri Narayan Supports: Ekal Vidyalaya