Three CPS seniors are among the inaugural class of Chicago Cubs Charities “Cubs Scholars” program – an initiative that recognizes students whose academic promise and community involvement make them standouts among their peers.
In a Wrigley Field Ceremony on Tuesday, five Chicago high school students were officially named Cubs Scholars and were presented with a customized Chicago Cubs jersey by team Chairman Tom Ricketts.
“The kids were so proud of themselves,” said Kevin Saghy of the Chicago Cubs Leadership Team, “They were just beaming, especially when they were being interviewed by the media. They felt like celebrities.”
CPS seniors Klaudia Dziewulski, Nikolas Goecke, and Virginia Garcia-Rico were selected based on factors such as academic achievement and contributions they have made to their communities. Virginia, who attends Lake View high School, is a cross-country runner in the top 20 percent of her class, while Nikolaus, who attends Northside Prep, has won awards for forensics speech and is known for his volunteerism. Klaudia, a senior at Whitney Young, has a 4.0 GPA and is interested in neuroscience and environmental policy.
“I was so glad to find out I was going to be a Cubs Scholar,” said Klaudia. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
In addition to completing an application, nominees for the Cubs Scholars program participated in a three-part interview with Cubs front office executives. Topics included academics, extracurricular activities, community involvement and leadership potential. According to Klaudia Dziewulski, the only thing more stressful than the interview was waiting to hear the results.
“On the day we were supposed to find out, I was flying on a plane,” she said. “The flight attendants kept telling me to turn off my phone, but I kept asking them if I could check my e-mail one more time.”
Perhaps the only people more excited about this opportunity than the scholars themselves were there families, who stood alongside them at Tuesday’s ceremony.
“It was such a proud moment,” said Andy Goecke. “It’s not every day that you see your child acknowledged by a major sports team.”
Andy described his son Nik as blown away by the opportunity to be a Cubs Scholar.
“He’s ecstatic,” Andy said. “He’s so thrilled to have received this recognition and looks forward to being part of the entire experience.”
In addition to a $20,000 college scholarship, Nik and his fellow Cubs Scholars will participate in Cubs College Prep – a mentorship program that will run throughout their senior year of high school. Activities will include career days, motivational seminars, and social events such as Cubs games and on-field recognition ceremonies.
”The students will be mentored by our front office executives, and our corporate partners will expose them to a variety of career paths,” said Kevin Saghy.
Additionally, the Cubs will sponsor each student in a one-year college preparation program offered by Chicago Scholars, an established mentoring program that serves inner-city students and has a 95 percent college graduation rate.
“The goal of the Cubs Scholars program is to recognize promising students for what they’ve achieved thus far and help them move to the next level in their education,” said Saghy. “We want them to know that people out there care about them and want to see them do well.”