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Kaytlyn Sobieski; A Teen Who Cares

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Published on July 28, 2010 with No Comments

A Valparaiso Teen is Rewarded for Helping Others

Students, from elementary all the way through high school, make important decisions everyday. For example, they decide whether or not to do homework, whether they should study for a test, who their friends will be and what they and their friends will spend their time doing. All of which definitely have the potential to change or shape their life.

But some students make decisions that will change the lives of others.

Kohl’s Department Stores are recognizing those individuals that choose to go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of others through the Kohl’s Kids Who Care Scholarship Program.

Earlier this month, Kohl’s awarded – or shall we say rewarded – 200 volunteers for their service to their communities, 12 of whom were from the Chicago area. These 12 students, ages 10-18, received a $1,000 scholarship toward post-secondary education from Kohl’s.

“These kids are doing remarkable work to benefit their local communities,” Julie Gardner, Kohl’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said. “Now more than ever, we feel privileged to be in a position to help support the continued education of deserving kids across the country who are making a real difference in the lives of others.”

Kaytlyn Sobieski, 18, of Valparaiso was one of the 12 worthy volunteers who received money towards college. In June, Sobieski graduated from Valparaiso High School where she volunteered every school day for the past three years as a special education peer tutor.

Sobieski also organized social events for the H.O.P.E Club, an after school program that planned social activities for students with handicaps. But Sobieski was surprised to learn that her good deeds could potentially earn her a scholarship.

“I got involved in the scholarship program because of an amazing special education teacher, Tina Morales, that I worked with at the high school,” Sobieski said. “I actually didn’t even know she had signed me up until I received something in the mail from Kohl’s saying I was in the finals for winning the scholarship. So I owe her for this wonderful experience.”

Sobieski’s inspiration for working with individuals who have special needs came by way of her 15-year-old brother, Kyle, who has Cerebral Palsy.

“I’ve always had a love for working with kids with handicaps because of my brother and hold a special place in my heart for them,” she said.

Sobieski said that her family and friends were very supportive of what she did and she found volunteering for these clubs to be very rewarding. Sobieski also found that while she was supposed to take on a teacher’s role with the students she was helping, often times, she found herself doing the learning.

“It really amazes me how the special education students don’t judge anyone by what they look like, how they talk or what they believe. I think this is something that we could all learn from them,” Sobieski said.

When she’s not volunteering her time, Sobieski enjoys being a typical teenager hanging out with friends, watching movies and listening to music but she also loves to read and participate in Zumba dance classes. She also works as a receptionist at Absolute Style, a hair salon in Valparaiso run by her aunt.

Sobieski plans to attend Valparaiso University in the fall and says that she is excited to start taking classes there towards a major in special education. After graduation, Sobieski hopes to become a special education teacher, an occupation that will give her the chance to continue to impact the lives of others.

“I am very blessed to have won this scholarship and to have amazing people in my life who have helped me get this far, Sobieski said.

Winners of the Kohl’s Kids Who Care Regional Scholarship were chosen based on initiative, creativity, leadership and generosity. Each recipient also qualifies for one of Kohl’s 10 national scholarships, which will be announced at the end of July. This year Kohl’s is increasing the total scholarship amounts to $10,000 for 10 national winners, and will donate $1,000 to a not-for-profit organization on each winner’s behalf. In total Kohl’s will recognize more than 2,100 awardees with more than $410,000 in scholarships.

Since the Kohl’s Who Care Scholarship Program began in 2001, Kohl’s has awarded more than 11,000 youth volunteers with more than $2.2 million in scholarships and prizes.

More information about the program can be found by contacting any Kohl’s department store with locations in Portage, Merrillville, Valparaiso and Highland, or by visiting www.kohlscorporation.com.

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