Des Plaines Community Foundation Awards Five Scholarships for College Students

  • The 2018 recipients for the Des Plaines Community Foundation scholarships are Michael Bilotich, Caty Buchaniec and Bhagirath Mehta from Maine West High School; Hazel Patel from Maine East High School, and Hannah Siebert from Elk Grove High School. Zack Nelson received the Sadie Rose Leadership Award.

    The 2018 recipients for the Des Plaines Community Foundation scholarships are Michael Bilotich, Caty Buchaniec and Bhagirath Mehta from Maine West High School; Hazel Patel from Maine East High School, and Hannah Siebert from Elk Grove High School. Zack Nelson received the Sadie Rose Leadership Award. Courtesy of Aimee DeBat

Des Plaines Community Foundation
Updated 6/22/2018 8:55 AM

The Des Plaines Community Foundation (DPCF) recently awarded five $1,500 educational scholarships to 2018 local area college students. This is the sixth year the Foundation has offered these scholarships for both two-year and four-year college students.

According to Rosemary Argus, executive director of the Foundation, the scholarships are available for both two year and four year college students starting school in 2018.


"We believe that helping our young adults obtain a college education is an investment, not only in the future of our youth, but also in the future of Des Plaines," said Rosemary Argus, executive director of the Foundation. "The scholarships will help bring a college degree within reach for students who need it most."

The five 2018 recipients for the Foundation scholarships are Michael Bilotich, Caty Buchaniec and Bhagirath Mehta from Maine West High School; Hazel Patel from Maine East High School, and Hannah Siebert from Elk Grove High School. They were chosen out of more than 40 applicants who applied in the 2017 school year.

Here are the details about the five scholarship recipients:

• Michael Bilotich is a member of the National Honor Society. He is passionate about and helping others and specifically treating those with mental health disorders. He will be attending the University of Illinois and plans to obtain a bachelor's degree in psychology during his undergrad education, then get into medical school and complete his residency with and ending goal of becoming a psychiatrist specializing in treating additions.

Bilotich was very involved in community service and volunteer work. He volunteered as a coach for the Des Plaines Park District youth basketball team and Christen Life Church in Mount Prospect and helped at pantries for families in need.

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"I have learned the importance and reward of helping others, but have also understand the discipline and hard work ethic needed to balance a demanding schedule of personal goals and responsibilities, and commitments to other people," he said. "I am excited to start the next chapter of my life."

• Caty Buchaniec will attend Northwestern University and plans to study Journalism. Her goal is to become an environmental policy journalist to do her part to save the rainforests and polar ice caps, the ocean and the wetlands by inspiring others to make change and analyze Congressional policy. She wants to be the person who fights for the longevity of the earth's surroundings and the livelihoods of the future generations.

An avid reader since she was 9-years old, Buchaniec has volunteered at the public library and worked with young readers--those just beginning to learn the letters of the alphabet to those working on their first novel.

She worked as an English tutor, both at the remedial and AP level. This summer she plans to continue to be a tutor for reading and writing for elementary kids.


After losing her glasses for two days and not being able to read her homework she subsequently orchestrated a used eye glasses drive that collected 404 pairs of used eye glasses across 16 schools in the Des Plaines area. The glasses were sent to children around the globe who lacked health care.

• Bhagirath Mehta was accepted to every college he applied to including Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Brown and Stanford University. He will attend Stanford in the fall and after college he wishes to conduct research in natural language processing and develop more effective algorithms.

"I would like to establish my own startup where I can use these algorithms to invent assistive learning devices for people with speech impediments, said Mehta. "On a more personal level my goal is to visit 30 countries by the time I am thirty."

Mehta was president and founder of 3-D Innovations Club at Maine West High School. This past summer he ran a coding camp, #HelloWorldBootCamp, for future Maine West students teaching them programming in HTML, CSS and JavaScript to make websites for social good.

He was president of the President's Leadership Team where he lesioned between students and administrators. He also was a school COACH tutor and owner of his own tutoring business.

• Hazel Patel plans to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago and become a nurse practitioner in the future. She plans to pursue a master's degree and while gaining experience being a register nurse.

According to Patel, youth leadership is essential in society because it prepares young adults for the leadership they will have to take on in life.

"No matter what occupation someone decides to go after, leadership is always an important characteristic," said Patel "Having this previous leadership experience will increases my chances of getting my desired position in a future career."

Patel was the co-president of the Interact at Maine East high school. She held officer positions her junior and senior years.

Most notably was the Rotary Interact's Toy Drive in conjunction with the WGN Toy Drive. They raised a record-breaking $13,500 worth of toys for less fortunate children.

• Hannah Siebert plans to attend the University of Arizona and pursue an undergraduate degree in pre-physiology, with the ultimate goal of entering a graduate program to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

"In fifth grade I had knee surgery and began working with a physical therapist," said Siebert. "This encounter sparked my interest in this career path. I have always possessed empathy and compassion for others and want to utilize these traits in my chosen profession."

The DPCF scholarship committee trustees who judged the applicants are Rich Holke, Kimberly Potokar, Mark Lucaccioni, Sandra Hansen, Kathy Puetz, Margaret Polovchak, Sherry Gardner and Dick Sayad. They judged the student applications based on strict guidelines and required paperwork.

"Students are required to be Des Plaines residents, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher," said Rich Holke, chairman of the Foundation scholarship committee. "High school seniors must be in the process of applying to or enrolled in an accredited undergraduate program at college, university, or vocational/technical institution during the fall semester of 2018 to be eligible."

A minimum of 12 credit hours per semester is required. Graduate programs do not qualify.

The students are required to provide a 100-word statement of their personal goals and a 500-word essay about how they have participated in community service or worked to support themselves or their family. A copy of high school transcripts which include a cumulative GPA is also required.

Students must complete a scholarship program application which can be downloaded at

If missing any of the required paperwork the applicant's submission is automatically disqualified from the review process. Students should not send additional documentation than what is required. It will not be considered in the review process.

The Foundation raises funds to identify, link and mobilize assets to support the service programs of the Des Plaines Healthy Community Partnership Programs whose activities improve the lives of those that live and work in Des Plaines.

Some of the programs include; Neighbors Helping Neighbors Program Committee; Healthy Community/Healthy Youth Program Committee; Intergenerational Program Committee, and Seasons of Service program Committee.

The Foundation has no paid employees and is 100-percent volunteer. Foundation is a 501c3 organization and funds are obtained from individuals, businesses, and corporate tax-deductible contributions as well as from other foundations.

For tickets to the annual September 7th Rivers Casino fundraiser go to or or call Rosemary Argus at 847-297-4932 or 847-525-5566. The 2018 Casino Fundraiser will feature the local 7th Heaven band as entertainment.

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