Wentcher Scholars Class of 2020

IGNITING UNLIMITED IMPACT

Wentcher Scholars impact the world on local, national and international levels - they are researchers at the nation’s highest educational institutions and teachers who serve in elementary classrooms around Chicago

There are over 480 Wentcher scholar alumni who have graduated to date. Meet several of these leaders below.

From Fulbright recipients to forward-thinking doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, and business professionals, Wentcher Scholars are formidable leaders in their communities. Our Wentcher scholars also include artists and writers, pastors, and EMTs

Jasmine Omeke, BA, MS

Wentcher Alumni

Whitney Young High School, 2010

Harvard University, 2014

DePaul University, 2018

Hitting the ground running after transferring in her Junior year to Whitney Young HS, Jasmine Omeke poured herself into her studies as well as volunteering in her community and pursuing creative writing with the After School Matters program. Her strong character, outstanding academic accomplishments and financial circumstances lead to her selection as a Wentcher Scholar, a Gates Millennium Scholar, among others, and she headed off to Harvard University. Four years later, Jasmine graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Social Studies with a focus on Urban Planning. She was also a recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship, which she used to undertake an independent research project at an African Music Archive in Frankfurt, Germany. Shortly after, she earned her MS in Computer Science at DePaul and pivoted into the tech industry. She then became a Software Engineer at Braintree, a division of PayPal. Jasmine is currently a Senior Software Engineer at Netflix in San Francisco and has returned to give back to the Wentcher Foundation over the last six years by serving as a candidate reviewer, interviewer and a keynote speaker at our Annual Wentcher Scholar Celebration. In her spare time, she likes to paint, travel and read mystery books.

Maryam Hanif

Wentcher Alumni

Lincoln Park High School, 2005

University of Illinois Chicago, 2009 

University of Illinois Chicago, 2012

It was my dream to be an Engineer since 6th grade. Being a female, it has been a challenging path, at times being the only female in the room. But with the support of so many wonderful people I have been able to grow in my career, lead teams, and make my presence known as an Engineer without need to denote being a “female.” It also allowed me to mentor and motivate younger girls to pursue this career path as a dream.” One of the biggest blessings of receiving a Wentcher Scholarship in 2005, Maryam says, was being able to achieve that dream without the constant worry of paying off loans. “I have been able to pursue opportunities that I may not have otherwise.” Born in the UAE to Pakistani parents who moved to the U.S. when she was thirteen, Maryam attended Lincoln Park High School in Chicago and completed a Bachelors and Masters in Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. One of three siblings, a twin brother and younger sister, she concedes that her life would have been quite different without the Wentcher scholarship. Being immigrants, my parents’ biggest goal when moving to America and leaving their lives behind, was for their kids to get a good education and accomplish great things. All of us would have been in college at the same time, which would have been extremely challenging for my parents. I was a member of one of the earliest classes to receive the Wentcher scholarship, and recall meeting Ernie Wentcher at his apartment prior to being interviewed. As a daughter of immigrant parents, my interview ended up becoming a family affair. My dad and Ernie chatted about their travels and shared their life stories, while I sat there semi-embarrassed, and quite nervous. Ernie took the time to talk to me and the other candidates and eased our nerves before our interviews. Looking back, I imagine the scene much as a grandfather sharing stories from his youth with his grandkids. As a result of my own experiences, I am eager to give back to society. For the past decade I have been a mentor for women in science and engineering fields.

Dr. Nicholas Peace

Wentcher Alumni

Whitney Young High School, 2003

M.I.T., 2007

Northwestern, 2012

Fuller Theological Seminary, 2020

Dr. Nicholas Pearce is a native of Chicago’s South Side. Following graduation from Whitney Young HS, he was accepted at MIT, became a Wentcher Scholar, and was honored with a number of other awards and scholarships. He earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering & Management from MIT with a concentration in Religious Studies and went on to earn an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Management & Organizations from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He now serves as an award-winning organizational behavior professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School, the founder and chief executive officer of The Vocati Group, a boutique global management consultancy, and assistant pastor of Chicago’s historic, 12,000-member Apostolic Church of God. He is also the author of a bestselling book, The Purpose Path: A Guide to Pursuing Your Authentic Life’s Work. An internationally-recognized thought leader on values-driven leadership and organizational transformation, Dr. Pearce has served as a trusted adviser, executive coach, and sought-after speaker for over 200 leading corporations, social impact organizations, communities of faith, educational institutions, and government organizations on six continents. Nicholas is deeply committed to community impact, serving as a trustee, board member, and adviser for many community organizations, and has also given back to the Wentcher Foundation as a volunteer interviewer and keynote speaker at the annual Wentcher Scholar Celebration.

Rafal Sabota, MD, PhD

Wentcher Alumni

Hubbard HS, 2003

University of Chicago, 2007

Vanderbilt University, 2011

When Rafal Sobota arrived in Chicago from Poland in eighth grade he spoke virtually no English. With a passion for learning and a desire for a career in medicine—a calling that had come to him after witnessing the fading health of loved ones in the past. Rafal graduated from Hubbard High School and with the financial assistance from the Wentcher Foundation, the University of Chicago a job of up to 30 hours a week, Rafal was able to attend the University of Chicago and graduate with a dual major in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Feeling the urge to respond to the world’s problems, Rafal began with trips to help rebuild hurricane torn New Orleans, participate in an agroforestry project in Senega and a project that would keep him busy for several years: the creation of a school in Kenya – raising funds, writing grants, collecting laptops, developing construction plans and helping to supply the school’s library with 1,700 books. While doing this, Rafal also pursued his MD, a PhD in Genetic Epidemiology, and master’s degree in Public Health at Vanderbilt University. Rafal is currently the Academic Chief Resident in Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Department of Neurology expanding his interests in genetics, global health and neurocritical care.

No matter the undergraduate major or the pathway they decide to take after college, the Wencher community is here to support them.

MEET OUR RECENT ALUMNI

First NameLast NameHSCollege
JubrilAdeagboSouth Shore International College Prep HSEmory University
AlejandroAguilarPerspectives – JoslinNorthwestern University
EstherAjayiChicago Math and Science AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MiguelAponteGeorge Washington HSNorthwestern University
VictorBecerrilLane Technical College Prep HSUniversity of Washington-Seattle Campus
TrevonBosleyGwendolyn Brooks College Prep AcademySouthern Illinois University-Edwardsville
GuillermoCamarilloGeorge Westinghouse College PrepStanford University
MariaDe LeonVon Steuben Metropolitan Science CenterHarvard University
VictoriaDeLiraLane Technical College Prep HSNorthwestern University
SamuelDetmerWalter Payton College PrepHarvard University
JonathanDiazProsser Career AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
AnnaEspinozaSocial Justice HSRoosevelt University
CynthiaEstrada-Diaz de LeonLindblom Math & Science AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MuznaFatimaSenn HSDenison University
MatteoGeattiGeorge Westinghouse College PrepUniversity of Pennsylvania
KennedyGravesLindblom Math & Science AcademyCornell University
GregoryGarveyLindblom Math & Science AcademyVanderbilt University
JessicaHannsberryKing College PrepSpelman College
GregoryHarrisNoble – Gary ComerBrown University
NiaHarrisWhitney Young Magnet HSNew York University
KaylenHerringLindblom Math & Science AcademyHoward University
AmandaHoyneWhitney Young Magnet HSNew York University
DavidJeffriesMather HSMorehouse College
TommyJohnsonChicago Tech AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
TakylaJonesKing College PrepSpelman College
CarrianaJulianoNoble – Noble StreetUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
LinaKappNorthside College Prep HSYale University
LeahKingLincoln Park HSUniversity of Southern California
CharlesKayWhitney Young Magnet HSVanderbilt University
JustinLamWhitney Young Magnet HSUniversity of Southern California
KevinLeeNorthside College Prep HSNorthwestern University
JerryLimonPhoenix Military AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
AlexMacedoHubbard HSNorthwestern University
AnthonyMartinezChicago Academy HSUniversity of Michigan-Ann Arbor
SusanaMartinezChicago Academy HSDePaul University
VeronicaMatsukTaft HSUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
IdaMaungNoble – MuchinColorado College
MichaelMillsWhitney Young Magnet HSBrown University
AlbertoMontesLane Technical College Prep HSUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
DevinMontgomeryLindblom Math & Science AcademyDartmouth College
KhylaMorganOrr Academy HSAgnes Scott College
VanessaOcampoSolorio Academy HSDenison University
MichaelO’SullivanWalter Payton College PrepPomona College
EsterPerezLincoln Park HSRose-Hulman Institute of Technology
JanaeiPhillipsJones College Prep HSLoyola University Chicago
MadelinePooleChicago HS for Agricultural SciencesUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
SulaimanRajiPhillips Academy HSIllinois Institute of Technology
LeonardoRiveraLane Technical College Prep HSNorthwestern University
TajaRobertsonKenwood AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
JocelynRodriguezBogan HSKnox College
KyleDeLeonClemente Community AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
JordiRosadoInfinity Math Science & Technology HSDePaul University
ZacharySebekWhitney Young Magnet HSTufts University
AdelinaSociteRickover Naval AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
OumarSoumareKing College PrepUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
SobiaSultanaNorthside College Prep HSIllinois Institute of Technology
AmyTanWhitney Young Magnet HSHarvard University
ChristopherWilsonVon Steuben Metropolitan Science CenterUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
NovaXuWalter Payton College PrepMassachusetts Institute of Technology
JenniferZhuoWhitney Young Magnet HSUniversity of Chicago
OliviaChudziaszekMaine South HSOakton Community College
MichaelDe La RosaMaine West HSOakton Community College
TiannaHenryEvanston Township HSOakton Community College
ThomasJeskeMaine South HSOakton Community College
NedaVasevskiNorthrop HSOakton Community College
RomeoAbreganaMaine Township HS EastOakton Community College, University of Illinois at Chicago
Sheryl LheiCabadingNiles West HSOakton Community College, University of Illinois at Chicago
SpencerKabatHomeschoolOakton Community College, Purdue University
GeorgeLucaciuMaine Township HS EastOakton Community College, University of Illinois at Chicago
MargaretStangelThe Willows AcademyOakton Community College, Carroll University
JohnYenter-BriarsHomeschoolOakton Community College, DePaul University
First NameLast NameHSCollege
ReganAllenKenwood AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MaribelAlvarezBogan HSCity Colleges of Chicago – Richard J. Daley College
StephanyBacaSenn HSLake Forest College
ChristianBadilloLane Technical College Prep HSStanford University
LizbethBautistaLake View HSDenison University
CierraBrewerJones College Prep HSUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
EriannaBurrelPhillips Academy HSUniversity of Iowa
DontaeBurtonDouglass Academy HSSouthern Illinois University-Carbondale
JoseCervantesLincoln Park HSEmory University
JessicaCriolloLake View HSLoyola University Chicago
KimberlyCrowNorthside College Prep HSUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
MatthewDeckertRoosevelt HSUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
VeraDemchenkoLane Technical College Prep HSUniversity of Colorado Boulder
WeiminDengGeorge Westinghouse College PrepUniversity of Southern California
MayraDiazPhoenix Military AcademyLake Forest College
FedericoFloresChicago Academy HSDominican University
QuintonGoinsGwendolyn Brooks College Prep AcademyDePaul University
AminaHadzicAmundsen HSDePaul University
MalikHamiltonLane Technical College Prep HSKnox College
FranciscoHerreraProsser Career AcademyIllinois Institute of Technology
JoanneHuangJones College Prep HSNorthwestern University
RaquelJenkinsHyde Park Academy HSUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
DanielJohnsonLindblom Math & Science AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
JustynaKubekChicago Academy HSLake Forest College
JuliaKulhawikVon Steuben Metropolitan Science CenterMichigan State University
CarlosLeonCarl Schurz HSCity Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College
MiguelMendozaLincoln Park HSUniversity of Michigan-Ann Arbor
AlexisMurilloChicago HS for Agricultural SciencesUniversity of Minnesota-Twin Cities
AkporesiriOmenePerspectives – IIT Math & ScienceIllinois Institute of Technology
AlexisPerezTaft HSUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
NicholasRamosLane Technical College Prep HSEastern Illinois University
SarahSanchezWhitney Young Magnet HSUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
GiovanniSantiagoNorthside College Prep HSBrown University
YarimarSergesLake View HSUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
HamnaSiddiquiSenn HSDenison University
NiambiSmithClemente Community AcademyHoward University
CrystalStonewallChicago HS for Agricultural SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
ThomasSzeremetaLincoln Park HSUniversity of Denver
MelissaTaingLane Technical College Prep HSColorado College
RobertTichyWhitney Young Magnet HSArizona State University-Tempe
ThuVoMather HSDenison University
ChristopherWashingtonNoble – UICSouthern Methodist University
ThomasKrupaSt. Patrick HSOakton Community College
JohnMcHughSt. Patrick HSOakton Community College
CesarSoriaMaine West HSOakton Community College
KristineAglikinMaine South HSOakton Community College, University of Illinois at Chicago
AllisonBayroMaine West HSOakton Community College, University of Illinois at Chicago
JessicaChepurdaGlenbrook South HSOakton Community College, University of Illinois at Chicago
KevinKowalskiMaine South HSOakton Community College, University of Illinois at Chicago
JosephPinedaGlenbrook South HSOakton Community College, University of Wisconsin-Madison
DonaldShipmanNiles North HSOakton Community College, DePaul University
First NameLast NameHSCollege
TrinityAdamselKing College PrepUniversity of Missouri-Columbia
TroyBoccelliWalter Payton College PrepHarvard University
JaedaBranchMorgan Park HSUniversity of Chicago
LissettCamargoPhoenix Military AcademyConnecticut College
MichaelEstradaGeorge Washington HSCity Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College
AshleyGordonDeVry University Advantage AcademyUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
MichelleGuzmanSolorio Academy HSSouthern Illinois University-Carbondale
DavitKsorVon Steuben Metropolitan Science CenterUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
FrankLawrenceKing College PrepMorehouse College
AraceliLlamasThomas Kelly HSDePaul University
DaleLordLane Technical College Prep HSVassar College
SarahMartinNorthside College Prep HSUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
OloladeOlawaleLindblom Math & Science AcademyCornell University
BreanaSampleKing College PrepAmerican InterContinental University-Atlanta
AdalbertoSotoSolorio Academy HSTrinity College
DanyaSpringerUrban Prep – BronzevilleSaint Xavier University
MarquisWatsonHyde Park Academy HSUS Military Academy – West Point
KathrynChristopherNiles North HSOakton Community College
JessicaDirkisNiles West HSOakton Community College
AlexandraGruezoNiles West HSOakton Community College
CatherineCangelosiMaine South HSOakton Community College, Northern Illinois University
DiannaFuleaNiles West HSOakton Community College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
BrandonKabatHomeschoolOakton Community College, Elmhurst College
OliviaKisielewskiNiles West HSOakton Community College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
SimoneMontgomeryNew Trier Township HSOakton Community College, University of California-Los Angeles
JamesPayneMaine West HSOakton Community College, Kendall College
StephanieWardaNiles North HSOakton Community College, Northeastern Illinois University
First NameLast NameHSCollege
YaneliArizmendiNoble – PritzkerUniversity of Pennsylvania
AnaArtiagaCurie Metropolitan HSUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
JamesBenderGwendolyn Brooks College Prep AcademyUniversity of Missouri-Columbia
AnthonyBermeoNorthside College Prep HSUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
HeiChanWhitney Young Magnet HSUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
BenjaminFromanWhitney Young Magnet HSTulane University of Louisiana
FranciscoGarcia- SalasCurie Metropolitan HSUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
ShshankKarnSenn HSMiddlebury College
Soo BinKimLane Technical College Prep HSUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
RocioMezaSocial Justice HSColumbia University in the City of New York
EvelinaMitorajChicago Academy HSRoosevelt University
SamuelPedersenTaft HSLake Forest College
HaarisPervaizNorthside College Prep HSNorthwestern University
PatricePirpirisTaft HSLoyola University Chicago
DeJaujhnThompsonNoble – Noble StreetMillikin University
JosalynSaezHyde Park Academy HSConnecticut College
LachlanChenNiles North HSOakton Community College
FrancescaFragaleMaine West HSOakton Community College
DenniseKellyMaine West HSOakton Community College
FionaPrietoNiles West HSOakton Community College
SarahScheauMaine West HSOakton Community College
JamesAglikinMaine South HSOakton Community College, DePaul University
JohnathanBendewaldGlenbrook North HSOakton Community College, Cornell College
ZainabKhanNiles North HSOakton Community College, Vanderbilt University
KatherineSzczepanskiMaine Township HSOakton Community College, Elmhurst College
CodySlivkaGlenbrook South HSOakton Community College, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
LaurenSkolakMaine South HSOakton Community College, University of Wisconsin-White Water

Get Involved

Our current Wentcher Scholars thrive with your support and connection.

There are opportunities to engage with current Wentcher Scholars through our summer Internship Initiative, plus a new Mentorship program in late 2021.