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Trib Total Media honors 50 high school students

Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Deer Lakes High School senior Samantha Wilczynski, 17 of West Deer Township is congratulated by her parents Bonnie Wilczynski (right) and Victor Wilczynski (not pictured) after receiving the Trib Total Media Outstanding Young Citizen scholarship award at the annual banquet at the Four Points Sheraton North Hotel in Mars.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013, 11:14 p.m.

Trib Total Media on Thursday awarded Samantha Wilczynski a $5,000 scholarship at its Outstanding Young Citizens banquet for high school students in the North Division.

Wilczynski, a senior at Deer Lakes High School, was diagnosed two years ago with stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma. She responded by forming a team of more than 80 volunteer walkers, called Sami's Strength, who raised nearly $9,000 to fight cancer.

“I knew all of the things I went through were improved by other people's efforts,” said Wilczynski, 17, of Gibsonia, who plans to study psychology at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. “I wanted to make some effort to improve the lives of other children who were going through what I did.”

Wilczynski was one of 50 high school juniors and seniors recognized on Thursday at the Four Points Sheraton North hotel in Mars. The company previously honored 50 students each from the South and West, East and Westmoreland divisions.

“I continue to be amazed by the number of really great kids that we, in this region, are blessed with,” said Ralph Martin, president and CEO of Trib Total Media.

The Top 10 students in each division as determined by an outside panel of community leaders receive a Gold Medal award, and one student in each division wins the scholarship.

“With what you have done, much is expected of you,” said guest speaker David Johnson, news anchor for WPXI-TV.

The 10 Gold Medal recipients are:

• Lauren Ajak: The Fox Chapel Area senior is editor-in-chief of the yearbook and raised money for an orphanage in Uruguay. She wants to enroll in a six-year pharmacy program in college.

• Hannah Blinn: The Deer Lakes senior was responsible for teaching Haitian adults about the dangers of drinking unsafe water. She plans to major in environmental studies at Allegheny College.

• Abbey Brewer: The Ambridge Area senior is valedictorian of her class. She wants to study pre-medicine with a major in biochemistry and mathematics at Washington University in St. Louis or Dartmouth College.

• Perry Cao: The Shady Side Academy senior is president of the speech and debate clubs and the Asian Student Union. He plans to study politics and social sciences in college.

• Caitlan Carney: The Quigley Catholic senior twice won the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. She wants to study psychology at the University of Pennsylvania or Catholic University.

• Maggie Donaldson: The senior from the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, Deer Lakes and Waterfront Learning attended the Gallaudet Academic Bowl Nationals. She plans to study biology at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

• Timothy Joy: The Ambridge Area senior is president of the senior class, a drum major in the marching band and first chairman of the concert band. He wants to study nursing at the University of Pittsburgh.

• Lisa Liu: The Fox Chapel Area senior won the Colonial Dames National and the Ralph Munn Creative Writing essay contest. She plans to study economics in college.

• D. Dominic Moore: The North Allegheny senior competes on the varsity water polo, speech and debate teams and plays the piano and violin. He wants to study political science and economics in college.

• Megan Rosenberger: The St. Joseph senior won the President's Environmental Youth Award and is a U.S. Senate Youth finalist and alternate. She plans to study engineering at the Naval Academy.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or

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