All winners of Merit Scholarship awards are chosen from the finalist group based on their abilities, skills and accomplishments as demonstrated by their academic record, information about the school’s curriculum and grading system, test scores, the finalist’s own essay and more.
These academically talented high school seniors are one step closer to securing some of the 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth approximately $33 million that will be awarded in the spring.
The Loyola community congratulates the following eight members of the senior class:
Matthew E. Brun
“One of the best parts of Loyola has been the community,” says Matthew E. Brun, who remembers easily finding his niche at Loyola through the band community. “From there, I met more and more interesting and kind people each year through my classes and cocurricular activities.” From band to the chess team, JETS/WYSE and mock trial to classes in advanced math and ancient Latin, Matthew credits Loyola with helping him “develop a well-rounded and informed sense of the world.” Matthew has volunteered at Madonna Mission where he tutors refugee grade school children and has participated in Engineering Projects in Community Service (E.P.I.C.S.), a Loyola service club that identifies needs within the community and addresses them with technical solutions. In college, he plans to study math and computer science and possibly pick up a minor in Classics. During his free time, he dabbles in computer programming and has written a handful of iOS apps. Most recently, Matthew wrote an app that enables Loyola teachers to input their free periods so students can view them. He hopes to work in the technology industry where he can apply both mathematics and computer programming.
Maximilian K. Calk
An active member of the Loyola Academy Marching Band (LAMB) for four years, Maximilian K. Calk has recently been named band president, captain of the Basketball Pep Band and Drum Major—three honors that speak to his musical talent and his commitment to Loyola’s band program. And, for the third consecutive year, Maximilian will serve as a member of the pit orchestra for this year’s spring musical, Little Women. While music has provided a creative outlet for Maximilian to excel, he plans to pursue degrees in both mathematics and business. “I have a special interest in sports statistics and data,” he says. “I dream of one day working in the front office of a professional sports team.” It comes as no surprise, then, that some of his favorite classes at Loyola have been statistics with Mr. Brabeck, calculus with Ms. Thelander and microeconomics with Ms. Wysocki. “I credit Loyola for helping me realize my interest in statistics and economics and giving me opportunities to serve the less fortunate,” he notes. Maximilian called his urban plunge summer service trip to Cincinnati, volunteering at a soup kitchen and doing light home repair through Franciscans for the Poor, a valuable, eye-opening experience.
Louisa M. Edwards
“My experience at Loyola has helped me to try new things and given me leadership roles,” says student-athlete Louisa M. Edwards, who has spent four years on the cross-country, track and field and basketball teams. “Most importantly, Loyola has provided me with opportunities to engage in service, which I think is really important.” Louisa volunteers at Sacred Heart Convent in Wilmette where she socializes with and serves dinner to retired nuns. She’s also a student leader of Pax Christi at Loyola and spent part of her summer in West Virginia on a service trip. In the classroom, Louisa’s favorite class was AP Chemistry with Ms. Michels, and she is a member of the French Honor Society. In college, Louisa plans to continue to foster her diverse interests. “I'm undecided about what I want to major in, but I want to study a wide variety of topics—math, writing, science, health, computer science and maybe French or Spanish."
Henry J. Kroeger
As a self-described computer science buff who builds computers, codes and has a special interest in blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, Henry J. Kroeger has never backed down from a challenge. He’s an engineer-in-the-making with his sights set on the rapidly evolving technology sector. But when he’s not in the classroom or thinking about his future tech startup, Henry can be found at Family Focus in Evanston, working with underprivileged children as a tutor and role model. “Loyola has provided me with a competitive environment that has pushed me to achieve,” Henry says. “It has also connected me with both inspirational teachers and driven students who share my interest in learning and growing as a person.” What’s Henry’s favorite class at Loyola? AP Physics C with Mr. Steven Lowe. “I enjoy the difficulty of the class,” he says. “It pushes me to my mental limits.”
Emily M. Molins
Emily M. Molins is a dedicated student-athlete who strives for excellence both in and out of the classroom. “Loyola has been a place where I can balance academics with athletics,” she says. A three-year member of the girls’ varsity rowing team, Emily balances her time between practice, a demanding course load and a number of cocurriculars and hobbies. She is a Clavius Scholar and member of Pax Christi and participates on the Moody’s Mega Math (M3) challenge team. This summer, Emily was accepted to Stanford University where she will row on the lightweight women’s crew team.
Merrill D. O'Shaughnessy
When she’s not carrying out her responsibilities as a member of Insignis or the LA Way leadership program, Merrill D. O’Shaughnessy is the current president of the Connection for the Homeless Junior Board. In this role, she does everything from cooking and assisting staff to running contests and fundraisers that benefit the organization. “I love working there and meeting interesting people from diverse backgrounds,” she says. After school, Merrill works as a research assistant in the molecular genetics and biochemistry department at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine—an experience that will help prepare her for college where she plans to study biomedical engineering. “Loyola's academic environment is competitive and challenging in a way that pushed me to take classes I would have never seen myself in—like Physics C—but it also enabled me to pursue my passions through classes like AP Art.”
Jason W. Vrbancic
“Loyola has offered everything I could ask for in terms of academics, athletics and cocurriculars,” says Jason W. Vrbancic, who has learned to balance his time as a four-year baseball player with a science-heavy course load, service work at Sunrise Senior Assisted Living and Madonna Mission and as a member of Loyola’s Pax Christi. A Clavius Scholar, Jason developed a passion for science in classes like AP Biology with Mrs. Gina Gnoffo and AP Physics C with Mr. Steven Lowe. “Both courses have been difficult, but I relish the challenges they have put in front of me,” he says. In college, Jason plans to pursue his interest in the STEM fields and study either mechanical or biomedical engineering.
“Loyola has taught me the value of hard work and perseverance—that I get back what I put into my work,” says Loyola Academy Symphonic Orchestra member Gina Yoo, who also plays in the Lincolnwood Youth String Orchestra. In addition to being a skilled musician—she’s been playing the violin since the fourth grade—Gina’s interests are as diverse as her talents. She is an avid reader, serves the Loyola community as a member of the Torch Club and has rowed on the girls’ crew team for three years. Service work has been a part of Gina’s high school experience since freshman year, and volunteering at a child care center during her junior year was particularly impactful. As a senior, Gina is learning computer programming in her computer science course, which she calls both challenging and fun. In college, she plans to study Biology.
In addition, Loyola is proud to recognize the following National Merit Commended students: