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Giving back is teen's hallmark

| Thursday, May 1, 2014, 11:18 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Emma Anselmo, 17, of Shadyside makes a face towards her family as she receives a scholarship check at the Trib's 2014 Outstanding Young Citizen 'East' awards as guest of honor Joe Holden of WPXI smiles and Lindsay Berdell, Director of Promotions and Marketing at Trib Total Media, applauds at the Doubletree in Monroeville on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Anselmo, who goes to Oakland Catholic High School, will spend part of the summer doing mission work in Guatemala and then will be the fifth sibling in her family to attend The Pennsylvania State University.

Emma Anselmo believes in being of service to those in need.

The Oakland Catholic High School senior participated in a mission trip to Guatemala last summer and co-founded a fundraiser, “Dancing with the Vikings,” to benefit a Guatemalan orphanage.

She tutors students, volunteers as an assistant coach at Little Dribblers basketball and works as a summer camp counselor at the Shadyside Boys & Girls Club.

“Many of the children come from difficult backgrounds and broken families, but the club became a place where they could come to feel safe and comfortable. I got satisfaction knowing I helped create an environment they could call home,” Anselmo, 17, of Shady­side, wrote in an essay about her volunteer experiences.

With that essay, Anselmo won a $5,000 college scholarship from Trib Total Media's Outstanding Young Citizen Program on Thursday during a banquet at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Monroeville.

“I always went there when I was little, so when I entered high school I felt like I should start giving back,” said Anselmo, clutching a large $5,000 promotional check. “I thought I had a shot (at winning), but I was surprised by the end of the night that I had beaten out all those other kids. I have to give credit to Oakland Catholic for teaching me how to write.”

About 200 people attended, including 50 high-achieving juniors and seniors who received certificates to honor them as Outstanding Young Citizens based on academic achievements, school activities, leadership roles and volunteerism.

Of those 50 students, the Top 10 were announced as gold medal winners.

In its 21st year, the Outstanding Young Citizen program recognizes 50 exceptional high school students from four regions. the banquet honored students from Pittsburgh's eastern neighborhoods and suburbs.

“It's important for the Trib to recognize these students because there are so many stories on television and in the newspaper about kids that have done things that we wish they hadn't. This is one opportunity that we have to recognize the hundreds and hundreds of kids who do so many things that really benefit the communities that they live in,” said Ralph J. Martin, president and chief executive officer of Trib Total Media.

The scholarship portion of the program awards a $5,000 scholarship to a senior in each of Pittsburgh's four regions.

In the east, 34 high school seniors submitted essays to compete for the scholarship and 172 juniors and seniors submitted biographies to be considered for the Outstanding Young Citizens award.

Anselmo is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council and Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, for which she plays the violin. She plans to attend Penn State University to study finance and Spanish.

The 10 gold medal winners, all seniors, are:

• McKenzie Gordon; Burrell High School; distinguished honor roll, varsity swim team and drama club president; plans to pursue a master's degree at Chatham University to become a physician assistant.

• Douglas Hough, West Shamokin Junior Senior High School; distinguished honor roll, varsity soccer captain and youth basketball coach; plans to study elementary education at Grove City College.

• Cody Kazousky, Kittanning Senior High School; National Honor Society, president of Kittanning Performing Arts Center and member of Armstrong County Water Rescue Task Force; plans to study nuclear medicine technology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

• Mary Komandt, Franklin Regional Senior High School; National Honor Society, Student Council and Future Business Leaders of America secretary; plans to study pharmacy at Ohio Northern University.

• John Matthews, Franklin Regional Senior High School; National Honor Society, class president and Forbes Hospital emergency department volunteer; plans to double major in biological sciences and government.

• Rachel Pastor, Elizabeth Forward High School; National Honor Society, class of 2014 president and food bank collection volunteer; plans to study international business in college.

• Joseph Rogers, Central Catholic High School; National Honor Society, My Brother's Keeper student mentor and Eagle Scout; plans to study secondary English education at La Salle University.

• Shannon Stirling, Lenape Tech; National Honor Society, Student Government officer and SkillsUSA Operation Troop Appreciation area organizer; plans to study biochemistry at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

• Jennifer Urban, South Allegheny High School; National Honor Society president, class president and Future Medical Careers Club vice president; plans to study environmental science and engineering at St. Vincent College.

• Hannah Winchell, Penn-Trafford High School; National Honor Society, Spanish Club president and Vacation Bible School teacher; plans to major in biology at Grove City College.

Tory N. Parrish and Bobby Kerlik are staff writers for Trib Total Media.

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