Outstanding Young Citizens honored at Trib Total Media banquet
Valley High School senior Joseph Guzzo and Highlands High School senior Marissa Callender were awarded $5,000 scholarships Wednesday during Trib Total Media’s Outstanding Young Citizen Awards banquet at the Quality Inn in New Kensington.
The awards are presented by Trib Total Media with support from Seton Hill University and Penn State New Kensington. They recognize 100 students for their achievements in and out of the classroom. This year, the Trib received 489 nominations from 104 high schools in the region.
Guzzo is the son of Joseph and Maria Guzzo of New Kensington. He’s been involved in community service for much of his life.
“Volunteering is something everyone should take part in at any stage in their lives, and most people do not realize the influence their helping hands have on others,” Guzzo wrote in his application essay. “Helping people who are in need has humbled me, as I have seen that the situation can always be worse, and that I should be thankful for what I have.”
As a 12-year-old, he went door-to-door seeking donations for Habitat for Humanity’s Allegheny Valley Chapter. Guzzo also volunteers at his parish, Mount St. Peter Church, and with the Westmoreland County Food Bank and edits videos for several community groups.
He plans to study computer engineering at Ohio Northern University or the University of Dayton, and he also intends to continue his community service work.
Callender is the daughter of Selena and the late Thomas Callender of Harrison. She’s also been devoted to community service and has earned bronze, silver and gold awards as a Girl Scout.
For her gold award, Callender created the Holiday 365 program, which benefits families in need. It’s something she plans to continue after graduation.
In her essay, Callender noted the community support her family received after her father’s death in 2017.
“I will never be able to repay my community in full, but I have done things to benefit my community,” Callender wrote. “… There is so much positivity and goodness in this world and it just takes small acts of dedication and commitment for these things to shine through.”
She plans to major in biochemistry and minor in Spanish and communications in college with hopes of attending medical school to become a pediatric oncologist.
Ten other area high school students were honored with gold medals for their achievements:
- Nickolas Bartel, a senior at North Hills Senior High School, has been on the high honor roll for four years. He’s a founder and president of the North Hills Speech and Debate Team, is an Eagle Scout, and is active in politics. Bartel plans to study political science and environmental science in college, and he’s already earned 30 college credits. He ultimately would like to create environmental policy at the United Nations or State Department.
- Patrick Brewer, a junior at Greensburg Central Catholic High School, was selected to the Harvard Pre-College Program and received college credits as part of it. He’s also a member of Mensa International, which recognizes people of high intelligence. Brewer is a U.S. regional record holder in the high jump, a wrestler and soccer player. He’s inspired by his father’s fight to overcome cancer to pursue a major in genetics and medicine. He would like to research ways to improve cancer treatment and, ultimately, cure the disease.
- Aria Eppinger, a junior at the Winchester Thurston School, was a national grand prize winner in the Warren Buffet “Grow Your Own Business” contest. She’s also won a $20,000 award for health advancement from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Eppinger is founder and president of the STEMinish Society and was editor in chief of the Sigma STEM Journal. She also swims, is a member of the cross country and track teams and plays violin. Eppinger intends to study biomedical data analytics.
- Shweta Gudapati, a senior at North Allegheny Senior High School, is a National Merit Semifinalist. She’s also been a student researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s Vascular Medicine Institute and won gold medals at the National Latin Exam competition. She’s a regional manager for Tutors for Opportunity, is a black belt at Tung Soo Do martial arts and is a classically trained vocalist. She plans to study medicine and public health and hopes to address issues of worldwide health care inequities.
- Hannah Hebda, a junior at Elizabeth Forward High School, is on the highest honor roll and is in California University of Pennsylvania’s early admission program. Hebda also is a scholar athlete, a Carson Scholars Fund Nominee and has earned her bronze and silver Girl Scout awards and is working toward a gold award. She’s involved in student government and is also captain of the cross country team, a cheerleader and runs track. Hebda plans to attend the U.S. Naval Academy Summer Seminar. She hopes to gain an appointment there after graduation and study quantitative economics and become an attorney.
- Brady Hunker, a senior at Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School, has a 4.7 grade point average and has maintained it despite battling Ewings sarcoma, a condition that forced him to be homebound for his sophomore year. He won the 2017 National Honor Society “Student That Inspires” award. Hunker plays hockey, sings and has had roles in student plays. He’s also extensively involved in cancer fundraisers and at New Stanton United Methodist Church. Hunker plans to study mechanical engineering at Grove City College.
- Faith Kisker, a senior at Seton-LaSalle High School, is a Semper Fidelis All American of the Year award recipient, has been on the highest honor roll all four years of high school and was an Advanced Placement Scholar Award recipient. She was a summer intern at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Academy, a founder and president of the Seton-LaSalle chapter of Girls Who Code and took part in the Harvard University Model G20 Summit in 2018 and 2019. Kisker plans to study biochemistry with minors in Spanish and political science, go to medical school and ultimately work for Doctors Without Borders.
- Elena McGoey, a senior at North Hills Senior High School, is a Borlaug Scholar recipient, won a Jefferson Award for service and was a Carson Scholar from 2015 through 2018. She’s also a member of the school’s wind symphony, marching band and drama club. She plans to pursue a career in veterinary medicine with a specialty in exotic animals and wildlife animal rehabilitation. She would like to combine that career with one in animal-assisted therapy for people with disabilities.
- Nadine Oury, a senior at the Winchester Thurston School, is a National Merit Semifinalist. She has won writing awards and is an Advanced Placement scholar with honors. Oury is a 12-year Girl Scout and was a gold award project leader. She also completed community service in Morocco for the National Geographic Society. She’s been accepted at the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University and is considering majors in environmental engineering, urban planning and computer science.
- Megan Swift, a senior at Franklin Regional High School, has a 4.42 grade point average, is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars. She is a drum major, marching band president, on student council and vice president of the Thespians Club. Swift played tennis and is a Relay for Life team captain for the American Cancer Society. She plans to study music education and communications at Pennsylvania State University’s University Park campus.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .