JESSICA Van Bueren, a senior at Liberty High School in Colorado Springs, has been named one of the Best and Brightest of 2014 by The Gazette newspaper. Twenty high school seniors from the Pikes Peak region were selected for the honor.
Judged by a panel of 11 community members, the students were recognized for their academic achievements and their contributions to their communities and schools.
The Best and Brightest publication is in its 24th year.
Van Bueren has received awards for her leadership skills, academic achievements and volunteer contributions.
Since her Bat Mitzvah, she has been active in the scouting world both as a Girl Scout and with the Venture Scouts.
Her family, including parents Mark and Elizabeth, are involved with scouts in addition to Van Buerens three younger siblings.
Recently, Van Bueren received the prestigious Summit Award for Outstanding Leadership in the local scouting community.
She was also selected as one of the top five in the region to receive the Venturing Leadership Award.
Van Bueren is in the top 10% of her class at Liberty High School, where she is president of the DECA Club, vice president of National Honor Society and a member of the Spanish National Honor Society.
She received the Outstanding Student Achievement award for Spanish I & II as well as the Junior Varsity Coaches Award for soccer.
VAN Buerens parents have been active members of Temple Beit Torah. Her father Mark spearheaded the effort to establish a Boy Scout troop chartered under Temple Beit Torah in 2011, appropriately named Boy Scout Crew 5771.
Mark works with the local Jewish committee on scouting and is the advisor for Boy Scout Crew 5771.
His efforts include coordination of programs such as the Shabbat service for Boy Scouts, which includes Jewish Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers. Van Buerens mother Elizabeth participates in scouting hikes and backpacking trips.
Jessica Van Bueren has been president of Venturing Crew for two years and is vice president of programming. In Colorado Springs, approximately 35 kids are involved in Venturing Crew, which is open to youths, ages 14-21.
Reflecting on her experience, Van Bueren believes that her connection to scouting through the synagogue has helped her maintain her Jewish friendships and camaraderie throughout her high school years.
Similar to other recipients of the Best and Brightest award, Van Bueren is very involved in extracurricular and volunteer activities.
After participating in DECA during her sophomore year, she became the president of DECA for Liberty High School.
After a year in which the high school had a particularly high rate of students involved in car accidents, the DECA club launched an education and awareness effort within the school to educate students about drinking and driving, safety tips such as seat belt use, etc.
DECA partnered with the AT&T Smart Driving program and the high schools resource officer to gather and share relevant information and statistics, especially around homecoming time.
This year, the schools DECA program is a nutrition and exercise program called Nutrify Me.
Along with other students, Van Bueren went to elementary schools and spoke to groups about healthy eating, the importance of exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, giving out jump ropes to help initiate action.
THE Van Bueren family moved to Colorado Springs from California in 1999 due the parents work with a family-owned business, Magnisight. Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Magnisight manufactures and sells CCTV products for the visually impaired, utilizing state-of-the-art technology in a variety of products.
In addition to her academic achievements and extra-curricular activities, Van Bueren has worked for Magnisight, Lifetime Fitness, Claires Jewelry and Aeropostale.
In order to explore the professions of medicine and nursing, Van Bueren completed an anatomy class at Liberty High School and later began volunteering at Memorial Hospital.
She was intrigued with nursing and after applying for the Memorial Hospital Learning Link Internship, was selected as one of 30 students to participate as an intern.
The 12-week internship program provides an opportunity for high school students to volunteer several hours each week in different departments of the hospital, assisting nurses and staff with patient care and other duties.
Van Bueren has enjoyed volunteering in the emergency room, where the hectic atmosphere provides challenges and variety to the staff and volunteers in meeting the needs of emergency patients.
Due to this experience, Van Bueren zeroed in on nursing as one option in her college search during her senior year.
Recently, Van Bueren was awarded one of seven Kane Scholarships, which provide full tuition to a student with dual enrollment at the University of Colorado Springs (UCCS) Beth-El School of Nursing and Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC).
Van Bueren believes that nursing skills will provide her with job opportunities in many different geographic areas, and will be in critical demand in the future.
Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish News