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3 local students to receive scholarships from DCFS

Updated: August 19, 2014 6:42AM



Three Southland students are among nearly 50 recipients of a scholarship from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Chaqueatta Neal, 18, of Matteson, Dea Deja, 20, of Chicago Heights, and Terry Gruns, 18, of Palos Hills, will be honored, along with 45 other college-bound youth, at a ceremony Friday in Alhambra Palace, 1240 W. Randolph St., Chicago.

The recipients for the four-year scholarships were selected from 300 applicants across the state. They were picked based on academic achievement, community involvement and on an essay each student wrote.

Neal is a 2014 graduate of Rich South High School, where she earned a 3.88 grade point average. She was a member of the Student Council, National Honors Society, dance team and softball team.

In addition to those activities, Neal also was a Golden Apple recipient, tutor for elementary students in math and was named Youth of the Year at her church. Her future plans include attending the University of Illinois at Springfield and majoring in early childhood education.

Gruns, who plans to study mechanical engineering and physics at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, described part of what the students had to do to earn the scholarships.

“You had to write an essay, showing how you overcame difficulties and gave back to the community,” the 2014 Stagg High School graduate said.

Other recipients, such as Dea, already are taking college-level courses. She maintains a 3.59 grade-point average at Prairie State College.

While she was still a student at Bloom Township High School, Dea, played basketball and volleyball and was a member of the drama club and the Mathlete team. After school, she volunteered at the Animal Medical Center.

With the scholarship, Dea plans to attend Illinois State University and continue her major in criminal justice.

A fourth student receiving a scholarship, 19-year-old Kaylia M. Brown, of Chicago, attended a school in the south suburbs. She earned a 4.61 grade point average (out of a 5.0 scale) before graduating in 2014. She will study business management at Columbia College.

Other scholarships were awarded to students from Aurora, Naperville, Rockford, Champaign and 30 other Illinois communities.



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