2018 Wisconsin Character Award Winner: Destiny Kudelko
Congratulations to Destiny Kudelko, a senior at Kewaskum High School in Wisconsin, for winning the 2018 Youth Frontiers Character Award! Last week, Youth Frontiers presented the award to Destiny at its third-annual Ethical Leadership Luncheon in the company of hundreds of the area’s top corporate, nonprofit, education and civic leaders. To further recognize her accomplishments, Scott and Linda Haag awarded Destiny a $2,500 college scholarship. Learn more about Destiny by watching her video and reading the story below.
Rachel Hassler, the art teacher at Kewaskum, nominated Destiny for her everyday leadership – evident from the very beginning of her high school career. At the end of the summer, incoming Kewaskum freshmen participate in the “August Warm-Up” program: two days filled with activities, information and mentorship designed to excite the freshmen and prepare them for a successful first day and school year. Destiny took a longer view.
“On day two of August Warm-Up, Destiny approached me and asked me how she could be a freshmen mentor,” said Rachel. “In all of my years running August Warm-Up, I have never had a freshman ask me how to be a freshmen mentor. In that moment, I knew that Destiny was going to be an exceptional addition to Kewaskum High School.”
Destiny’s pursuit of leadership opportunities did not stop there. She actively improves her school community by participating in the Peers 4 Peers program, in choir, in drama club and as a small-group leader on Youth Frontiers retreats. Beyond these organized leadership opportunities, Destiny truly shines in all of her unplanned interactions with others.
Destiny’s everyday leadership
“The hard part about describing how Destiny is a leader is that there is not just one thing that makes her stand out. It is everything she does, every minute of every day. During class, she is the first one to volunteer to work with a student that does not have a partner. In the hallway, she is the first student to approach any student that looks like they are not having a good day. In the lunchroom, she is the first to sit with a student that is sitting alone. She goes out of her way to help others around her all of the time,” said Rachel.
Destiny’s leadership is caring and constant. She’s faced challenges from an early age, but rather than allowing those difficulties to embitter her, Destiny has gained great empathy from them.
“Destiny can see the potential in every student and strives to bring that out in each student she comes in contact with,” said Rachel. “She knows and understands that not everyone is going to agree and get along all of the time, but she also knows that if each student is the best they can be, then school will be a great place for all students.”
“At the end of May, when Destiny walks across the stage at graduation, it is going to be one of the happiest days for her because she gets the proof for herself that all of her hard work, grit, and determination has paid off. But, it will be one of the saddest days in our high school because we will be losing one of our most dedicated, respected and kind students,” said Rachel.
The Character Award is a chance for Youth Frontiers to honor students of character in their community. This is the third year Youth Frontiers has presented this award to a student at their Ethical Leadership Luncheon in Milwaukee. Last year’s recipient was Hannah Merlo from Waterford Union High School.
Written by Sarah Gavigan, Youth Frontiers Communications Specialist