Downers Grove South High School and North High School have selected eight alumni to receive distinguished alumni awards. Each school will be honoring these alumni at upcoming Homecoming celebrations in September.

The Distinguished Alumni Award program recognizes Downers Grove South alumni who have made significant contributions to society and whose accomplishments, affiliations, and careers have honored the legacy of excellence at South High School.

South High 2018 Distinguished Alumni Ceremony

Thursday, September 20 at 5 p.m.

Front Foyer at South High

1436 Norfolk Street, Downers Grove, IL, 60516

South High’s Homecoming football game vs. Addison Trail is Friday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m.

Below are the South High Distinguished Alumni (see photos attached):

Maudlyne Ihejirika, Chicago Journalist, Class of 1981

Ihejirika is an award-winning journalist with Chicago Sun-Times and frequent contributor on PBS, CNN, ABC, NPR and other outlets. She is the author of Escape From Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War, the story of her family’s survival of the brutal Nigerian-Biafran War, and miracles that brought them to the U.S. Ihejirika is a recipient of Studs Terkel Award and national and local awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists, and several civic awards.

Amy Liss, Motivational Speaker and Volunteer, Class of 2001

Live Each Day With an Attitude of Gratitude is Liss’s motto in life. Born with severe cerebral palsy and needing help with daily living, Liss works at Easterseals helping staff and families feel valued and appreciated. Also, Liss serves on staff at the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy speaking on positivity and teamwork. Liss is featured in Foudy’s book, Choose to Matter, as an inspirational leader, and speaks nationwide on service and positivity.

Dr. Robert Roose, Physician Leader, Class of 1997

Dr. Roose is a board-certified physician leader specializing in addiction medicine and integration of behavioral health care. He has served on state and national councils and task forces to address opioid addiction and led innovative efforts in western Massachusetts. In addition to numerous awards, Dr. Roose was named 2012 Addiction Medicine Physician of the Year in New York. Also, his groundbreaking work is featured in an award-winning documentary, The Fix: The Healing is Mutual.

Dr. Samir Soneji, Air Force Captain and Public Health Researcher, Class of 1994

In the United States Air Force, Dr. Soneji was a Captain and flight test analyst for the B-2 stealth bomber. He planned and executed numerous conventional and nuclear weapons tests to ensure B-2 mission readiness. Dr. Soneji was awarded Air Force Commendation Medal for meritorious service. With B.S. in Math from University of Chicago, M.A. in Statistics from Columbia University, and PhD in Demography from Princeton University, Dr. Soneji is currently a researcher and associate professor of health policy at Dartmouth College.

Captain Nicholas Tilbrook, Navy Captain, Class of 1988

Captain Tilbrook earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Physics from the University of Illinois, M.A. in Engineering Administration from Virginia Tech and M.A. in National Security Strategy from the National War College. He commanded USS CHICAGO, a nuclear powered submarine, which earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation. Captain Tilbrook is the Commodore of Submarine Squadron Seventeen responsible for the readiness and operations of all ballistic missile submarines in the Pacific Fleet.

The “Alumni Award of Excellence” program was designed to recognize graduates of North High who have contributed in an exceptional manner to society, whether in the areas of science, government, community, humanitarianism, athletics or fine arts. This highest of Alumni awards recognizes those who have exhibited outstanding leadership, character and service. 

North High 2018 Alumni Award of Excellence Ceremony

Friday, September 28 at 2 p.m. (During Homecoming Assembly)

Purple Gym

4436 Main Street, Downers Grove, IL, 60515

North High’s Homecoming football game vs. Oak Park is Friday, September 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Below are the North High Alumni Award of Excellence honorees (see photos attached):

Staff Sergeant Kristin Bowers USMC, Professional Clarinetist, Class of 2002

Bowers earned her bachelor degree in music from Indiana University and master degree in music from Northwestern University. Bowers is currently a member of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band performing at the White House for events of national importance. Prior to 2017 as part of the United States Air Force Band, Bowers worked with flight officers and three flights creating music programs for 62 missions and combining inspiring music with key Air Force messaging. She led a 13-member section as the Concertmaster of the Concert Band on 156 performances, seven Concert Band recordings and 26 ceremonies. 

Dr. Christine Todd, Doctor and Humanitarian, Class of 1985

With an English degree from University of Chicago and medical degree from Southern Illinois University (SIU), Dr. Todd has found a career that blends her passions of medicine and humanities. As the first woman and first medical doctor to have this position at SIU, Dr. Todd is the Head of the Department of Medical Humanities focusing on patient safety. Dr. Todd has received departmental and institutional teaching awards from SIU as well as national awards from the American College of Physicians and the Society of Hospital Medicine.

Dr. Thomas Wascher, Neurosurgeon, Class of 1977

Dr. Wascher earned his bachelor degree from Eastern Illinois University and doctorate of medicine from Loyola University. Specializing in neurosurgery, his training and experience consists of.complex neurosurgical conditions involving the brain and cervical spine. In 1992, Dr. Wascher opened his neurosurgical practice in Appleton, Wisconsin. He has received more than 30 awards for social and academic excellence, has authored multiple books and articles in the field of neurosurgery, and has founded the Fox Valley Brain Tumor Support Group with nurse practitioner David Bond.

Current photos and high school photos of the alumni honorees are located within this Google Drive.