1998 Mattoon, Coles Co, IL. She earned high honors in high school and was named a state scholar resulting in her becoming valedictorian of the 1998 graduating class. During her farewell speech she challenged fellow graduates to take responsibility for their own lives, for pursuing their goals regardless of others who might try to steal that dream. She continued by recounting her own experience 2 years prior when she was kidnapped at knifepoint and forced to drive 250 miles to a remote area of Missouri where she was sexually assaulted. Despite being naked and bleeding profusely, she managed to escape and ran over 2 miles to safety. The man was later arrested and imprisoned.
3/9/99 Champaign, Champaign Co, IL. Now in college at the University of Illinois and a member of the US Navy ROTC drill team, she was awarded the Single Gold Academic Achievement star by the Navy for a 3.0 grade-point average.