Class of 2018
Anna Birsa, Normal Community West High School
Anna is an 18 year old Normal West senior. She was born and raised in Bloomington Normal with her two brothers and two sisters. She loves being a member of her community, whether that be through 4H, working at the UNITY Community center, or at school. In school, she was a member of the Speech Team, as well as head of costumes for Normal West Theater. She serve as a board member for the Normal West PRIDE Club, something that she hold very near to her heart. She plays the piano and the cello, and she also raise bees and sell honey.
Anna’s favorite quote: “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” –Dylan Thomas.
Jose Espinoza, Evans junior high school
Jose Espinoza is a kind loving Person that loves his family and his friends.
Jose’s favorite quote: “When happiness comes in, so does love”.
Safa Ikramuddin, Normal Community High School
Safe was born and brought up in Bloomington into an Indian Muslim family. Despite being far away from her roots she takes importance in taking time out for her faith. She likes to be around children and teach at her Islamic Sunday School. Being around children makes her feel like she is making a difference in the future by influencing the younger. She volunteers often in her community and loves doing it especially with friends. She loves to sit down and make time to read and listen to music as it gives her peace and tranquility. Her dream is to be able to go into medicine and travel the world to places where they need more healthcare.
Safa’s favorite quote: Mother Teresa said “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” This quote reminds her that even when she fails and feel down on herself to not give up and continue to do good because the smallest things can make a difference.
Manasi Kinikar, Normal community high school
Manasi was born in Bloomington, Ilinois and moved back here from India when she was 11. She is currently a junior at Normal Community High School and enjoys school because of the wide range of subjects they offer. One of her long-term goals is to help reduce inequality and poverty among youth and adults. She has a keen interest in politics because of it’s strong influence on important policies as well as our youth! In her free time she enjoys reading and traveling. She hopes to use her skills from YGC to become a better philanthropist in the future.
Manasi’s quote: “The harder you fall, the stronger you rise”.
Naomi Rugutt, Metcalf
Naomi was born and raised in Bloomington – Normal with her older brother and two younger sisters. During her free time she enjoys cooking, creating designs, and spending time with her friends. She loves reading books whenever and she will go on bike rides whenever it is nice outside. She has also had an opportunity to travel to countries, and get to learn about their culture in the process.
Naomi’s favorite quote: “You only have one life so why should you waste time trying to be someone that you are not, be you, the time is now.”
Mansi Shah, Normal Community West High School
Mansi is a 9th grader at NCWHS. She plays JV tennis for the girls team, and she is a member for her freshman board. Her favorite subjects are math and science. She loves playing chess and hanging out with friends. She also loves to volunteer at different places in the society, especially helping out at hospitals. Growing up, she strives to be a successful cardiologist, and traveling the world to help countries in need medically and financially.
Mansi’s favorite quote: “Not to waste time, and treasure every second of life because unexpectedly, it can be taken away from you and may never get the time back ever again. Life is too short and it’s better to live it the best everyday likes it’s your last day.”
Venkatesh Shenoy, Normal Community High School
Venkatesh is a responsible and mature sophomore seeking to gain insight into social and interpersonal skills that will help him in life; this will help him serve my community. Recently, he served the community as a Youth Volunteer for an annual Blood and Food Drive organized by Sewa International USA from 2013 to 2016, and was even the Youth Volunteer Lead for the Food Drive in 2017. Last summer, he also volunteered at Advocate Bromenn Adult Services. Additionally, he has played the violin in Orchestra for 6 years and is part of Peer Leadership, FBLA, Science Club, and Model UN.
Venkatesh’s favorite quote: “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
Shaurya Taxali, University High School (Normal, Illinois)
Shaurya was born and raised in Bloomington Normal. He will be a Junior at University High School come next school year. He is part of the U-High Debate team. He also enjoys being part of the U-High math team, and WYSE (Science) Team. He also enjoys playing on the U-High golf team, and exploring the wide range of golf courses Bloomington-Normal has to offer. He is also a very huge musician. He plays the percussion during concert and marching band. And he is also part of the U-High Jazz band and Pit orchestra.
Shaurya’s favorite quote: “Don’t work for recognition, but do work worthy of recognition.” – Henry Jackson Brown Jr.
Yesha Thacker, Normal Community High School, Normal, IL
Yesha is a Freshman student at Normal Community High School, IL. She have constantly challenged herself by taking all honors courses. She loves working in the diverse environment where we learn from each other and create beautiful and amazing things. She grew up in a family where knowledge, hard-work, dedication, honesty, and compassion have shaped her into becoming a better student. She loves working with kids to spark their interest in STEM. She is a go green person and she is extremely committed to kids and women’s issues to help empower underprivileged kids and women through education.
Yesha’s favorite quote: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – M.K. Gandhi
Sriram Vakkalanka, Bloomington High School
Sriram Vakkalanka is currently a sophomore at Bloomington High School. He is interested in pursuing a career in business. He also greatly enjoys playing tennis and hope to continue the game throughout his college career. He has been learning Mridangam, a south Indian percussion instrument, for the last ten years and accompanies various artists in Carnatic Music. He additionally participates in various extra-curricular activities, including Scholastic Bowl, Chess, and Math team. He is looking forward to being part of the YGC program to develop his personality and leadership skills.
Sriram’s favorite quote: “Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.”- Elon Musk
Akhil Vytla, University Laboratory High School
Akhil was born in the U.S but his first 4 years he lived in India. Because of this he grew up speaking in multiple languages and most of his life was entwined with Indian culture. He first went to Trinity Lutheran for 1st and 2nd grade. After that he went to his local public school until eighth grade. Now he goes to the University Laboratory High School. During his free time he reads books or play games with his friends. In his future he plan to go to Medical School and become a cardiologist.
Akhil’s favorite quote: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”
Alonnah Wallace, Bloomington High School
Alonnah Wallace loves art and poetry. One of Alonnah’s main goals in life is to make a difference and to not go unnoticed.
Alonnah’s favorite quote: “Life is about balance. Be kind, but don’t let people abuse you. Trust, but don’t be deceived. Be content, but never stop improving yourself.”
Zion Williams, Bloomington Junior High School
Zion Williams is 13 years old. He is currently in the eighth grade. He takes some high school classes such as spanish and algebra. He likes school at times.
Zion’s favorite quote: “You can’t live life without problems.”