The Community Currency Exchange Association of Illinois provides college scholarships in partnership with Back 2 School Illinois.

Information and applications for our 2019 College Scholarship awards will be available in January of 2019.


From left to right CCEA Board President Marty LiebermanCCEA Scholarship Winners Carolina Cannon, Andrea Bossi, Catherine O’Carroll & Joshua Park.

From left to right CCEA Board President Marty LiebermanCCEA Scholarship Winners Carolina Cannon, Andrea Bossi, Catherine O’Carroll & Joshua Park.



Omar Roman

Omar Roman is a senior at Elk Grove High School where he will be graduating with a 4.41GPA (4.0 scale).

He has an impressive list of academic accomplishments and extracurricular activities as well as working during part of his time in high school.

Aside from his excellent grades and solid test scores, Omar’s hard work led to a laundry list of academic achievements including Student of the Quarter, Best Debate Novice Award, Honor Roll all four years, Best Junior Varsity Debate Award, Best Presiding Officer in a Debate Tournament in the Illinois Congressional Debate Association, AP Scholar Award by the College Board (Summer ’17), Reflecting Excellence Scholarship Awardee by Reflejos Publications 2017, and his team took First Place in the North Suburban Math League at Larkin High School.

Additionally, Omar played on the varsity tennis team, was a member of the Spanish Honor Society, and served as a Mastery Lab Tutor.

He worked at two different jobs for the Mount Prospect Park District, one as a tennis instructor and the other as a basketball scorekeeper. He also spent time volunteering for Feed My Starving Children and in various roles at the Alexian Brothers Medical Center.

Omar plans to attend Case Western Reserve University.

Sihguat Torres Jr.

Sihguat Torres Jr. is a senior at East Aurora High School where he will be graduating with a 4.0 GPA (4.0 scale).

His academic achievements are nothing short of impressive. His SAT scores place him in the upper 90th percentile. Among his many honors, he was selected as a QuestBridge finalist, an AP Scholar with Distinction, an Illinois State Scholar, and Student of the Month in the school’s business department. Sihguat is a three-time winner of the Phenomenal Man Award, an annual program in the city of Aurora, which honors students who excel academically and provide service to their community.

While spending a lot of time focusing on his studies, Sihguat also made time to give back to his school and community. He served as a math tutor for two teachers, volunteered at the SunnyMere Retirement Home, helped during Sunday mass at The Body Church, and assisted City of Aurora officials during several public events such as the Christmas Festival Parade.

Sihguat was also involved in a number of school-related organizations including being treasurer of the National Honors Society at East Aurora, serving as a club member of the Math Honors Society and chairing the Mathletes competitions.

Sihguat plans to attend Stanford University.

Isabel Gleason

Isabel Gleason is a senior at Grant Park High School whereshe will be graduating with a 4.0 GPA (4.0 scale).

During her time at Grant, she received a series ofacademic honors: High Honor Roll, National HonorSociety, Illinois Music Educators Association, DistrictThree Alto One, and River Valley ConferenceRepresentative for Band and Choir.

Isabel was heavily involved in school programs often taking leadership roles including the co-founder of the Environmental Club, varsity representative of World Youth in Science & Engineering, lead female of the Drama Club, varsity representative of the Scholastic Bowl, as well as being a member of the Spanish Club and Math team.

Isabel’s passion for music led her to be a pianist for the jazz band, alto in the Jazz Choir, French horn player for the Pep Band, and a soprano in the concert choir.
While busy with so many school activities, Isabel also found time to hold down a job as
a piano teacher during three of her four years and volunteered her time to be a music
director at a children’s camp.

Isabel plans to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

Patrick Baartz

Patrick Baartz is a senior at Waukegan High School where he will be graduating with a 3.3 GPA (4.0 scale).

Patrick’s SAT score of 1340 put him in the 91st percentile. His scholastic prowess also allowed him to receive distinction to be named a member of the High Honor Roll and become both an Illinois State Scholar in 2018 and a National Society of High School

At school he played varsity football, served on the prom committee, and was also a member of the Student Section.

During his high school tenure, he worked two jobs–one at Six Flags Great America and the other at the Waukegan Field House.

In addition to his classwork, school-related activities and employment, Patrick still made time to get involved in his communities volunteering, both at his original high school in South Carolina as well as when he moved here to Waukegan. He donated his time at two religious institutions: The Body Church for Anybody and the Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church. Patrick has helped out at local roller rink and hospital. He also gave up part of one summer to mentor incoming freshmen.

Patrick plans to attend Michigan State University.


CCEA Members, The Tufano Family, also awards annual college scholarships as part of the Back 2 School Illinois’ kickoff event each year.

From left to right B2SI Board Vice President Jerry Tufano&CCEA Scholarship Winners Delnaz Patel, Marc Johnson & Margaret Polk

From left to right B2SI Board Vice President Jerry Tufano&CCEA Scholarship Winners Delnaz Patel, Marc Johnson & Margaret Polk


Kristy Liu

Kristy Liu is a senior at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School where she will be graduating with a 3.96 GPA (4.0 scale).

Academically, Kristy excelled in achieving Honor Roll, being named a Principal’s Scholar, and becoming a member of the National Honor Society; she also had the rare distinction of perfect attendance.

While attending Whitney Young, Kristy was actively involved in the Asian American Club (AAC) where she served as President. During her tenure she delivered several service learning projects and set up a partnership with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s American Resource Center. Her work with AAC also included being lead choreographer and performing a spectacular Chinese fan and ribbon dance show.

On the volunteer front, Kristy put in over 250 service hours with Project Vision, an organization that works with youth from Chicago’s Chinatown and Bridgeport communities to achieve their full potential. Among the work she did for the organization included participation in several fundraisers as well as park and forest preserve cleanups. Kristy also donated service hours to several food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.

Kristy plans to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago.


TifaniPanekis a senior at Lane Tech College Preparatory High School where she will be graduating with a 5.18GPA (4.0 scale).

Not only does she have impressive grades and SAT score, Tifani also has a number of academic honors to her name including being a Lane Scholar for all four years, an AP Scholar of Distinction, an Illinois Student Assistance Commission Scholar, and a Posse
Foundation finalist.

Tifani was also very active in school activities. She served as the President of the Cambodian-Thai Club, President of the Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science Club, member of the Robotics Club and Founder and President of Think Pink, a club devoted to raising funds and awareness of breast cancer. She also was a mentor for high-achieving seventh and eighth graders within the school.

While in school, Tifani also worked several jobs including a paid internship at the Kohl’s
Children’s Museum, Friends of the Park Earth Team, lifeguard at Whealan Pool, and day camp leader for the Chicago Park District. She also was active participating in community service for Girls on the Run and Chicago Canine Rescue.

Tifani plans to attend either Bowdoin College or Davidson College.

Janessa Knapp

Janessa Knapp is a senior at Prairie Central High School where she will be graduating with a 3.98 GPA (4.0 scale).

On the academic front, Janessa has excelled. She is a member of the school’s National Honor Society and served as the organization’s President for three years. Janessa was an Illinois State Scholar and achieved High Honor Roll. She was selected to compete at the ASU Science Fair Symposium, two-time Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar, and High School Student of the Month.

Janessa has been involved in a myriad of school activities and has often taken on a leadership role. She served as co-captain of both the cross country and basketball team all four years as well as the co-captain of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Janessa not only played sports but also sang in the school choir and was a part of the Prairie Central Leadership.

While in high school, she held two different jobs–one as a nanny and the other operating a paper route for The Daily Leader.

Janessa’s volunteer efforts include packing soup for a world relief organization, fundraising for March of Dimes and Boys & Girls Clubs, and tutoring fellow students at the school.

Janessa plans to attend Illinois State University.


Hannah Glass

Hannah Glass is a senior at Lindblom Math & Science Academy where she will be graduating with a 4.35 GPA (4.0 scale).

Hannah excelled in academically, achieving membership in the National Honors Society as well as being an Honor Roll Student.

While maintaining good grades she was very busy with other school activities. She was very active with athletics including serving as varsity captain in track and field and in cross country as well as serving as Captain to the Pep Squad this year. Hannah worked on the Yearbook Committee and participated in the National Student Leadership Conference at Harvard Medical School.

Outside of school she participated in a number of volunteer programs such as The Jesse Brown VA Hospital, a rebuilding effort in Canstenza, Dominican Republic and assistant teaching at Earle Elementary.

Hannah also worked every summer during her time in high school and through her senior year at Safety Security Systems, Inc.

Hannah plans to attend the University of Illinoisat Urbana/Champaign.



MaKiya Caldwell

MaKiya Caldwell is a senior at Southland CollegePreparatory Charter High School where she will begraduating with a 3.38 GPA (4.0 scale).

MaKiya received academic distinction as a Center for Educational Opportunity Scholar as well as being on the High Honor Roll and having perfect attendance during her four years at Southland.

MaKiya was also very active in sports. She was a varsity cheerleader and the squad’s Co-Captain and MVP junior year and Captain senior year. All four years MaKiya played varsity tennis for the school and was Co-Captain of the team senior year. Also, in her senior year, she was a majorette. Outside of athletics MaKiya was on the student council and treasurer for the organization during her sophomore through senior years.

Throughout her high school career, MaKiya was a childcare worker for the Victory Apostolic Church and held a job as a cashier and waitress for a year at Rich City Skate.
On the volunteer front, she was an aide at Ingalis Memorial Hospital and Athletico Physical Therapy and served as a youth cheerleading coach. MaKiya also contributed hours at a Ronald McDonald House and with the Archonettes Youth Auxiliary.

MaKiya plans to attend Ball State University.