Animal-care Advocate Wins 2024 Niebuhr Service to Society Contest

April 11, 2024 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Animal-care Advocate Wins 2024 Niebuhr Service to Society Contest

High school senior Benjamin Sobczak, a longtime volunteer at the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago who plans to become a doctor, is the first-place winner of Elmhurst University’s Niebuhr Service to Society Scholarship Competition for 2024.

As the winner, Sobczak, an Elk Grove Village resident who attends James B. Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Elmhurst University.

The second-place winner is Anum Amanullah, a senior at Dunlap High School in Dunlap, Ill., outside Peoria, who was awarded a $10,000 renewable scholarship to attend Elmhurst.

This year, 174 students entered the Niebuhr Service to Society Scholarship Competition, which celebrates students with a passion for service to their communities and the world. The participants, all admitted Elmhurst students, were from across the Midwest and around the country, including California, Texas, Colorado, Florida and Rhode Island. A separate scholarship competition was held for international students.

In the first round of the competition, applicants were asked to submit a video about the ways in which they contribute to positive change in their community. During the second round, held last month on the Elmhurst University campus, finalists took part in group projects and attended an awards ceremony where the winners were announced.­­­

“It was an extreme honor to be in the company of such selfless individuals, all of whom serve their communities,” Sobczak said. “Being awarded the Niebuhr Scholarship was just amazing. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.”

In his video, Sobczak described volunteering as a veterinary technician in the Anti-Cruelty Society’s pet clinic. His work there shaped his desire to study medicine, he said. At Elmhurst, he plans to major in biochemistry. And because of the campus’s proximity to Chicago, he plans to keep volunteering at the clinic.

In her video, Amanullah noted that as a volunteer at a free medical clinic in her hometown of Peoria, she recognized the need for greater education around preventative care. So she worked with doctors and her local mosque to offer a series of health talks for the area’s rural residents.

During the second round of the scholarship competition, Niebuhr Service to Society Group Awards of $3,000 were given to each of the winners of the group service project. The winners were:

  • Joseph Latorre, of Orland Park, Ill.
  • Olivia Hernandez, of Yorkville, Ill.
  • Affan Nadeem, of Mt. Prospect, Ill.
  • Ilija Tomich, of Countryside, Ill.
  • Victoria Ptak, of Elmwood Park, Ill.

All students who entered the competition and attended the second-round scholarship event received a $1,000 Niebuhr Grant, which can be added to previously awarded merit scholarships and/or grants.

Elmhurst University launched the Niebuhr Service to Society Scholarship Competition in 2019 to recognize and reward prospective Elmhurst students with a significant interest in service, both as an element of their college search and in their wider ambitions. Such opportunities demonstrate Elmhurst’s commitment to building a caring community and diverse student body that will enable students to excel in their careers and become inclusive leaders.

Connect with #elmhurstu