Torch Award Winners 2016: Katie Kaldenberger and Raphael De Souza

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Every year MSC has the distinguish privilege to grant two high school scholarships to students attending Harvest Christian Academy in Elgin, Illinois.  Every year the process is grueling, as difficult decisions are made and two winners are chosen, this year was no different.  All of us at MSC would like to congratulate Katie Kaldenberger and Raphael De Souza for receiving this year’s top honors as the 2016 Torch Award recipients.  Katie and Raphael were required to apply for the Torch Award by completing an extensive written application, followed by letters of recommendation, a review of transcripts and in person interviews.  This year was particularly hard, due to the top quality of students who applied.  We’d like to thank all finalists who applied and encourage each of you to never give up and apply again next year!

Katie, an incoming senior at HCA, lives in Elgin with her parents and twin brother Cameron.  She decided to apply for the Torch award for several reasons, the first being she wanted to reciprocate financially and show her parents her gratitude for the privilege she has had in attending HCA after she found herself searching for a new high school after a series of disappointments. Falling in love with HCA while on a campus tour, Katie’s parents knew they had found a great school for Katie to finish her high school years.   Katie stands out in a crowd, literally, standing at 6’1, she’s a leader on the basketball court, playing on HCA’s varsity team where she plans on leading her team with grace and sportsmanship this coming season.  While she gives it her all on the court, she also enjoys coaching younger kids during her off season.  Always reminding young girls of their full potential, while reminding them to play for His glory, not their own.  Katie strives to perform with excellence in the classroom as well, with a goal of finding a small, Christian college where she can study actuarial science and continue playing basketball.

“Winning the Torch Award was one of the most exciting, humbling, and inspiring honors I have ever received.  The Torch Award represents excellence in the classroom, in your sport, and in your service to others.  Being recognized for my diligence in the classroom is great.  Being recognized for my dedication to my team, by my sportsmanship on the court and off, and my attitude to give God the glory is awesome.  But to be recognized for my service to others and being asked to carry the Torch in Mitch’s honor is incredible!” replied Katie when asked what this award represents to her.

“Winning the Torch Award has given me the added strength and determination to continue to reach out to help people.  I promise to never forget the blessings the Swaback Family has shared with me.  I will keep the Torch shining brightly,” added Katie.

MSC’s male Torch award recipient is Raphael De Souza, an incoming senior at HCA.  Raphael has had the blessing of attending HCA since Kindergarten, with his family sacrificing a lot to send their children to a Christian school.  Raphael has stated that God continues to work through him using HCA as a tool to shape him into the young man he is today.  Raphael decided to apply for the Torch Award trusting that the Lord would continue to provide for his education.  Upon receiving word that he had won this year’s top honors, the one word that he used to describe the honor was ‘blessing.’

“This award has not only allowed me to go to HCA, but through the blessing and generosity of this charity, it has opened a door for my little brother to be able to start his first year at HCA. Only God knows how much my family cherished this blessing. God opens doors in His perfect timing,” replied Raphael. “I will proudly bear the Torch Award by being an example of positive influence in the community in which God has placed me in at Harvest,” added Raphael.

All of us at MSC are excited to see Raphael develop and lead on the soccer field as he prepares for his senior season, and holds onto a dream of playing professionally one day.  He will strive to use his position of influence on his soccer team to glorify Christ by encouraging his teammates.  He looks forward to his senior year and making memories that he can cherish.  Raphael will also continue to influence others positively in the classroom and in his community, as well as being willing to share his testimony with others in hopes of encouraging other young adults.

Whether the Lord allows Raphael to continue playing soccer professionally or at the collegiate level, he prays every day that he will hear His voice and follow the path He has already laid out.  “No matter where God places me, I must be equipped and ready for the impact of the world and be an ambassador for the cause of Christ!  A special thanks to Mitchell Swaback Charities, this has been a very humbling and honoring experience; I cannot thank you for this blessing,” concluded Raphael.

Congratulations again to Katie and Raphael for their commitment to excellence in all areas of their lives and for accepting the honor of carrying this year’s Torch Award!