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Top 100 youth leaders in the Dubuque area honored
DAYLC Top 100 CC
The Cuba City High School DAYLC Top 100 leaders for 2017 includes, from front left: Adam Goinen, Gabrielle Weber, Maggie Wright; second row: Megan Hartl, Mykenzie Vaassen; third row: Blake Robson, Keisha Cummins, Kylie Wright; back row: Kaleb Polzin and Robert Spielvogel. - photo by Dena Harris

The Dubuque Area Youth Leadership Council (DAYLC) honored the tri-state area’s top 100 high school student leaders at its annual awards night on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the University of Dubuque’s Heritage Center.

In addition, the council recognized and awarded scholarships to its top ten leaders. Receiving scholarships ranging from $100 - $1,000 are Maeve Breslin, Dubuque Wahlert High School; Abby Connolly, Dubuque Senior High School; Olivia Cowart, Dubuque Senior High School; Adam Goninen, Cuba City High School; Anna Herrig, Dubuque Wahlert High School; Jalen Hildebrand, Dubuque Senior High School; Caitlin Kennedy, Beckman High School; Samuel Lange, East Dubuque High School; Madeline Ludwig, Cascade High School; and, Emily Tigges, Dubuque Senior High School. Lange and Cowart will be representing the council at the National Youth Leadership Conference in St. Louis, Mo., on Oct. 21-24, 2017.

Olivia Cowart was selected as the top youth leader. Olivia sees herself as a leader through recognizing potential and encouraging others, not by taking control of everything and declaring herself in charge. She serves as the foundation for others to build on by being a strong, but not overbearing peer. She helps others learn, while also learning. Cowart plans to use her leadership to open as many doors and create as many opportunities as possible, to build a solid life while also positively impacting others. She says, “I believe that the pathway to achieving my goal is remembering that leaders aren’t born, but they are made and that with the right effort, I can be a great leader.”

The ten scholarship winners were among more than 165 students from across the tri-states who were nominated by their high school teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators to become youth leaders through the council this year. Once nominated, students complete an application process asking them to outline their school and community involvement.

They must also submit an essay describing their leadership skills and how they will improve them. The applications are reviewed by the DAYLC board and the top 100 are selected as workshop participants. Applications are judged on the students’ level of participation in school, community, and leadership activities.

Two full-day leadership development workshops were held for student leaders last spring at the University of Dubuque and Clarke University. The student leaders also participated in a leadership panel discussion where the students were able to ask questions to a panel of community leaders that included Jim Jelinske, Creative Education Services and Lorelei Cabins; Whitney Sanger, Travel Dubuque; Dick Smith, University of Dubuque; and, Scott Theisen, Body & Soul Wellness Center and Spa, and Body & Soul Downtown SpaSalon.

Using their application and essay scores, and involvement at the leadership workshops, the top five finalists were identified. Those students were interviewed to determine placement and scholarship amounts.

Top 100 DAYLC recipients from Cuba City High School include: Keisha Cummins, Adam Goinin, Megan Hartl, Kaleb Polzin, Blake Robson, Robert Spielvogel, Mykenzie Vaassen, Gabrielle Weber, Kylie Wright and Maggie Wright.

Top 100 DAYLC recipients from Southwestern High School include: Julia Barnes, Allison Kruser and Trystan Turk.

DAYLC sponsors include U.S. Bank, Prudential Financial, American Trust & Savings Bank, Hirschbach, and generous support from the families of DAYLC alumni.

The 2017 DAYLC Youth Leaders were from the following ten high schools: Beckman, Cascade, Cuba City, Dubuque Senior, East Dubuque, Hempstead, Marquette, Southwestern, Wahlert, and Western Dubuque.  For a complete list of the top 100 students and to learn more about DAYLC, please visit