Illinois REALTORS® Bicentennial Essay Contest winners get total of $12,000 in academic awards


Twenty-three high school students have been awarded a combined $12,000 in academic scholarships as part of an essay contest which celebrates Illinois’ bicentennial and was sponsored by Illinois REALTORS®.

The top scholarship of $1,000 was awarded to West Chicago high school sophomore Hannah Young, who entered the Illinois REALTORS® Bicentennial Essay Contest which asked for entries reflecting the theme of “Home is Where the Heart Is.” Young attends Wheaton Academy and wrote on the special role her childhood home played in her life. Her entry was among more than 450 submitted.

Additionally, the 10-member selection committee awarded 11 students $750 scholarships and 11 students $250 scholarships.

“We are so pleased to see the great talent from high school students throughout the state and most of all their interest in the Illinois Bicentennial,” said Vicky Turner, a Dixon REALTOR® and chair of the Illinois REALTORS® Bicentennial Task Force. “Both the quality and the quantity of the essays received strongly show the strength of our youth in Illinois and reinforce the importance this state plays in their lives.”

Contest winners will receive their awards at check presentations at their local schools. Young’s essay can be found on the association’s website,

“On behalf of Illinois REALTORS® leadership and our 47,000 members, we congratulate the winners of this contest,” said Illinois REALTORS® President Matt Difanis, ABR. CIPS, GRI. “They showed that the state is a special place, and that home truly is where the heart is.”

The essay contest is one of several ways Illinois REALTORS®’ members are marking the state’s 200th birthday. Twenty-nine Local REALTOR® associations have undertaken service projects and fundraising efforts for historic properties throughout Illinois.

On Aug. 26, the state association plans to open Bicentennial Plaza – A REALTOR® Community Partnership in Springfield. The pedestrian walkway which links Springfield’s historic sites will feature interpretive exhibits of people, places and events which connect with Abraham Lincoln’s vision for a nation of equal opportunity for all.

The Plaza’s grand opening is a Signature Event of the state’s Bicentennial Commission’s celebration of the birthday milestone.

Illinois REALTORS® is one of the state’s largest trade associations, representing members engaged in all aspects of the real estate business.

The finalists and their academic award amounts are:

Hannah Young

Hannah Young

Essay finalist: $1,000

  • Hannah Young, Wheaton Academy, West Chicago

Essay finalists: $750:

  • Gabrielle Allen, Warrensburg-Latham High School, Warrensburg
  • Jade Bellairs, Woodstock High School, Woodstock
  • Bailey Brooks, Forreston Junior/Senior High School, Forreston
  • Megan Coakley, Grant Community High School, Fox Lake
  • Dillon Davey, Barrington High School, Barrington
  • Kennedy Green, Sacred Heart-Griffin, Springfield
  • Emma Nelson, homeschool student, Brookport
  • Cooper Peterson, Glenwood High School, Chatham
  • Amber Tomlin, Heyworth High School, Heyworth
  • Clare Turano, Willows Academy, Des Plaines
  • Camilla Vazquez, William Fremd High School, Palatine

Essay finalists: $250:

  • Kolten Conklen, Sterling High School, Sterling
  • Miranda Dianovsky, The Chicago High School for the Arts, Chicago
  • Sydney Minssen, Prophetstown High School, Prophetstown
  • Michael Murray, Joliet Catholic Academy, Joliet
  • Cecilia Nam, Vernon Hills High School, Vernon Hills
  • MacKenzie Orozco, Belvidere North High School, Belvidere
  • Andrew Ottoson, Waterloo High School, Waterloo
  • Heidie Raine, Byron High School, Byron
  • Kylee Rus, Sterling High School, Sterling
  • Melissa Singleton, Mahomet-Seymour High School, Mahomet
  • Ashley Wagge, Manteno High School, Manteno


2018-04-17T09:51:47+00:00April 17th, 2018|News, Illinois Bicentennial|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jon Broadbooks is vice president for communications at Illinois REALTORS®.

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