2020 Sonlight Scholarship Winners Announced

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Please meet and join us in congratulating these remarkable Sonlight-educated students poised to make a difference in the world. As the winners of our annual Sonlight scholarship competition, they have each been awarded each with $20,000, $10,000 or $4,000 for college.

Many of these students have used Sonlight since they were young. They’re headed into careers in engineering, arts, education and more. Most are headed to their college of choice, and many have superb SAT or ACT scores.

But they are also kind, big-hearted young adults. Through ministry and volunteerism, they live life with Jesus in their hearts and long to share God’s kingdom with the world.

$20,000 Scholarship Winner: Mattan Tseng of Hoffman Estates, IL

Students awarded $5,000 per year.

Mattan Tseng

Mattan Tseng of Hoffman Estates, IL, used Sonlight through his entire education and has excelled academically, receiving an ACT score of 34. In addition to his academic success, Mattan has a heart for service. The Student Ministries Director at his church describes him as an “extremely diligent” volunteer and notes that he has given over 2,000 volunteer hours in the past three years. Between his job as a weekend lighting assistant, his volunteer work on the lighting and production team, and sorting donations at the food pantry, Mattan spends a total of 25 hours a week serving at his church.

Mattan’s desire to serve has taken him on two mission trips to El Salvador and an 8-week trip to Zambia. While he was in Zambia, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Once he returned home, his mother says, “At every turn…Mattan served his family, from driving me to chemo, to helping his brothers with math and science.”

Science and math are Mattan’s favorite subjects, and he is happiest when working through a long calculus problem or a new electrical experiment. He will graduate from high school with 30 college credits and 4.0 GPA. A science teacher describes Mattan as “curious, motivated, and inspiring…an exceptional student.”

More importantly than academics, Mattan wants his “life to be lived in a way that reflects the love that I have received from Jesus.” He plans to pursue his goal of serving those in need of Christ with a future career in civil engineering.

$10,000 Scholarship Winners: Lydia Golden, Hendrick (Henry) Raquet, Lydia Rech, Emma Ross, and Kelly Vivanco.

Students awarded $2,500 per year.

Lydia Golden

Lydia Golden of Colorado Springs, CO, is described by a mentor as “one of the great ones! Capable, faithful, confident, humble, and loves Jesus in word and deed.” Lydia has used Sonlight throughout her entire education and has been able to develop her skills and giftings in many extracurricular activities. Serving as both a member and the chair of her local chapter of the Institute for Cultural Communicators, she has developed a skill for public speaking and competed in several tournaments. Her gift for speaking is also used in her church, where she volunteers with younger students and competes in Fine Arts and Bible Quiz competitions. Lydia has brought home the Fine Arts gold medal in public speaking twice. A mentor says that “her creativity shines through her motivating and inspiring speeches. She has the ability to bring to life the story she is telling.”

Since she was only 6 years old, Lydia has been a lover of figure skating. She currently competes in theatrical skating, and mentors younger skaters in a weekly Learn to Skate program. Her love for theater also led her to spend her summers volunteering at a children’s discipleship camp on the drama team.

Lydia plans to attend Oral Roberts University and pursue a degree in Journalism. Through this degree, she hopes to be able to communicate truth and be a voice for those cannot be heard.

Henry Raquet

Hendrick (Henry) Raquet of Beavercreek, OH, has been a Sonlight student since 3rd grade. Henry serves on the audio-visual team at his church, where the team leader describes him as “without a doubt one of the most talented problem-solvers I have ever met.” Henry’s aptitude for engineering is evident in a story shared by his father, remembering a time when Henry built a working speaker from wire, plastic wrap, and magnets.

In addition to his giftings in problem-solving, Henry is a talented musician. He developed an interest in composing in early grade school and plays the piano and French horn. He plays in a local youth orchestra, where he is the section leader for the horns. He was also hand-picked to be a member of a brass quintet and participates in piano performances every year, where he has continually received the highest rating of “Superior” from judges.  

In addition to his work with the audio-visual team at his church, Henry was asked to be a representative on the church youth council. A mentor from his church notes that “I have often remarked to my husband that Henry Raquet gives me great hope for the future…and what God can do in the life of a young man who is wholeheartedly pursuing Him.”

Henry hopes to pursue a college degree in Electrical Engineering.

Lydia Rech

Lydia Rech of Almond, NY, began using Sonlight in Pre-K. Since she was young, Lydia has shown a talent for music and acting. She began piano and voice lessons at the age of 12 and serves as the assistant director for a Christian youth choir. Her choir director says that Lydia “exhibits a rare maturity far beyond her years.” Lydia also volunteers on her church worship team and directed and organized a concert fundraiser to raise money for an adoption aid program working with an orphanage in China.

In addition to music, Lydia enjoys acting and theater. She has held a wide variety of stage roles, including Belle in a community theater production of Beauty and the Beast.

Lydia’s education with Sonlight has helped her stand out academically, and she has already been accepted into the college honors program at one of her top university choices. She hopes to be a piano teacher, and someday be a homeschool mom to share Sonlight and the gift of music with her own children.

Emma Ross

Emma Ross of Rosamond, CA, is described by her father as a student that “doesn’t read books [but] devours them.” She loves learning with Sonlight and has a personal goal of reading 200 books every year.

In addition to her academic success, Emma is a talented musician and plays both harp and piano. She’s the principal harpist for the West Coast Classical Concert and Symphonic Orchestras and has played in many performances and competitions. She also plays harp professionally through her own business, which she started and manages herself – including the website, business cards, and advertising. She works 1-2 events each month, playing the harp for weddings and special events. She also teaches piano to several younger students. Emma is part of a continuing legacy: her harp teacher was a Sonlight scholarship recipient herself several years ago!

Emma excels in more than just school and music. She has been active in several sports, including swim, track, soccer, and volleyball. She is also the editor for her homeschool organization’s student yearbook.

Emma will graduate high school with a 4.0 GPA and hopes to double major in Piano Pedagogy and Harp Performance at Cedarville University.

Kelly Vivanco

Kelly Vivanco of Tecamac, Mexico, is part of a long-term missionary family serving and pastoring in southern Mexico. As a bilingual and bicultural student, she has appreciated Sonlight’s global and biblical perspective throughout her education.

Kelly has shown herself outstanding in academics, graduating with a 4.0 GPA and 1410 SAT score. She is especially gifted in writing and communication and has written a historical fiction novel that she hopes to someday publish. A confident public speaker, Kelly teaches in her youth group, leads Bible studies, and has shared several sermons with the entire church congregation. She is also gifted in music and volunteers on the church worship team. Inspired by the Sing the Word CDs included with Sonlight, she would someday like to put Bible verses to memorable music for Spanish-speaking children.

In college, Kelly plans to study Elementary Education. She feels called to be a missionary in India, and has already begun learning to speak Hindi in preparation for her future vocation.

$4,000 Scholarship Winners: Mary Grace Spoelman, Annika Wiener, Carina Anastasio, Micah Shannon, Isaac Stiles, and Kira Zook.

Students awarded $1,000 per year.

Mary Grace Spoelman

Mary Grace Spoelman of SE Asia, has lived in Southeast Asia nearly her entire life and has completed her entire homeschool education with Sonlight overseas. She is passionate about art, and in her own words, “…[desires] to glorify the great Creator through creating. I seek to highlight the beauty of His Creation in a world that sometimes seems dark…” She has sold her original artwork in several craft fairs and donated her earnings to local charities that work with low-income families and trafficking victims. 

Mary Grace is very involved in volunteer work at her church and leads worship for the children’s church as well as leading and teaching small groups of younger children. She also volunteers at a local language center where she acts as a teaching assistant for children struggling with literacy and learning challenges.   

Those who serve alongside Mary Grace comment on her selfless service – and the delicious baked treats that she enjoys creating and sharing with others. She is described as leading with “integrity of heart, serving willingly and steadfastly.” Mary Grace dreams of becoming an illustrator and intends to study art at Calvin University before returning to her home in SE Asia.

Annika Wiener

Annika Wiener of Scottsdale, AZ, has used Sonlight Curriculum all the way through her schooling. She is accomplished academically, and a talented pianist. She uses her musical gifting to serve on her church worship team.  A church mentor describes Annika as someone “intentionally focusing her musical talents to spread the truth and love of Christ.” In addition to her service on the worship team, Annika displays leadership as a student leader in her youth group and volunteers with preschool and kindergarten classes. She has a desire to connect with other students that may feel lonely or overlooked, and those who serve alongside her recount many times that she befriended someone who may have otherwise been on the outskirts.

Annika is a member of a competitive speech and debate club, where she serves as a student leader and helps mentor new and younger students. Her director comments “While [Annika] is an accomplished speaker…her greatest gift is her attitude of service and caring.”

With the goal of teaching music in the future, Annika hopes to study Piano Performance at Arizona Christian University after graduation.

Carina Anastasio

Carina Anastasio of Albuquerque, NM, has seen academic success through her schooling with Sonlight, receiving a 33 on the ACT. She is interested in engineering and robotics and acted as the team captain for an all-girls robotics team that she helped organize. Her mother, also acting as the robotics team coach, says that “Carina [was] instrumental in creating and driving the team since its inception.” The team received the highest honors at state competition two years in a row. Since then, Carina has continued to see success in competition on another robotics team and was even recognized at a national level as a finalist for her individual contribution.

Carina enjoys sharing her gifts with younger children and taught a six-week course introducing elementary students to robotics. She has also led the children’s ministry programming at a homeschool family retreat for a statewide homeschool event. 

In her young teens, Carina attended a summer camp at multiple colleges and universities and encountered biomedical engineering for the first time. She plans to attend the University of New Mexico and receive a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, followed by a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. She dreams of developing medical technology using her interest in robotics. Her robotics mentor believes that Carina has a “bright future ahead of her as an engineer.”

Micah Shannon

Micah Shannon of Syracuse, NY, spent 8 years of his Sonlight education in Ethiopia as the child of a missionary family. He has excelled in academics, with an SAT score of 1420 and an ACT score of 33. Micah has also conquered subjects like physics and calculus. He has a love for photography and ran a small photography business when living in Ethiopia with the goal of providing affordable portraits for missionary families.

Having returned to the US, Micah is now involved in a local camera club, where he participates in workshops and is the leading member in his competition level. He is a student leader in his church youth group and a student council member in a local homeschool group. He was selected to attend a youth servant leadership training program that focused on developing leadership skills and community service.

Micah works for a property management company performing maintenance tasks and has also interned with a design studio. He views college as an opportunity to receive “the necessary training and education to do my absolute best for God’s glory.”

Isaac Stiles

Isaac Stiles of Souderton, PA, showed an aptitude for mathematics early on in life. His mother remembers a time when he enthusiastically explained to her his method for squaring any number in his head. He used Sonlight Curriculum all throughout school and learned to read at the age of three. Isaac received a score of 1500 on the SAT, placing him in the 99th percentile. Isaac’s mother believes that Sonlight was a perfect fit for him; his sensory processing challenges made textbooks and worksheets difficult, but engaging literature was an enjoyable way for him to learn.

Isaac exhibits gifts in music as a piano student at a community arts academy. He serves on his church worship team through singing, playing piano, and working as a sound technician. He is a black belt in Taekwon-Do and works as a junior instructor, training and practicing with younger martial arts students.

Isaac’s pastor shares that Isaac is “beloved by the entire church and recognized for his maturity, courtesy, kindness, and faithfulness…not to mention his high level of intelligence.” Isaac intends to further his education in mathematics in a college setting, spurred by the belief that mathematics isn’t just a secular pursuit, but can be used to bring glory to God.

Kira Zook

Kira Zook of Broadway, VA, has spent nearly her entire life living in a remote village in Papua New Guinea, accessible only by helicopter. Her parents are linguist Bible translators, and remark on how Kira’s support has enabled them to dedicate even more time to their translation work. Kira uses her skills in cooking, carpentry, cleaning, and more to assist her family in managing the household and furthering their mission work. Her mother is grateful that Kira “serves with a willing and cheerful heart.”

Kira used Sonlight Curriculum through all her years of schooling and is described by her parents as a voracious reader. She scored 1380 on her SAT and has developed a distinct skill in writing. Each year, she compiles a book of her best pieces of poetry and other writing. Lately, she has begun to share her work online. Her language skills continue to develop and have allowed her to connect with a local young woman in her village, with whom she has built a friendship and discipling relationship.

Returning to the US for college will allow Kira to pursue a degree in English. She believes this degree will equip her with valuable skills for any vocation that she chooses, including missions and translation work.

Could Your Young Learner Win a Sonlight Scholarship?

From preschool through high school graduation, Sonlight prepares your students. We have the big picture in mind, and we help you raise students prepared to launch into any career God calls them to. We share your desire to help your children succeed, and we’ll walk alongside to help you create the long-term educational experience you envision.

Did you know we've awarded more than $1.5 million to Sonlight graduates to date?

Each year, our charitable foundation offers a number of college scholarships, ranging from $4,000 to $20,000, spread over four years. Each year, the Sonlight Foundation offers the following scholarships:

  • $5,000/year
  • $2,500/year
  • $1,000/year

We offer scholarships on two tracks: one emphasizes academics, and the other creativity, missions-mindedness, and service. Got a perfect score on the SAT? Got average test scores, but served overseas during summer vacation for the last three years? In either case, you may qualify.

The Sonlight Foundation recognizes that academic giftedness is only one type of giftedness. If your student is gifted in academics, service, music, art, or has a heart for missions, we encourage you to submit an application.

Sonlight offers college scholarships

Eligibility for college scholarships is one of the many SonlightCares benefits. Set your sights on a Sonlight scholarship!

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