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Northwest suburban students honored by Nordstrom's
By Eileen O. Daday | Daily Herald correspondent

Janice Guzon of Hoffman Estates and a St. Viator student, is the founder of EYESee, dedicated to collecting used glasses for people in developing countries.


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Ekamjeet Dhillon was surprised Monday at Palatine High School by Nordstrom representative Sandra Loza.


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 10/11/2009 12:01 AM

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St. Viator High School senior Janice Guzon of Hoffman Estates found a surprise visitor waiting to see her during morning homeroom class.

A representative from Nordstrom's prize patrol came to deliver the good news: Guzon was selected as one of 40 students nationwide - and one of only five in Illinois - to receive the Nordstrom scholarship, worth $10,000 toward her college education.

The grant is paid out over the course of four years, to the college of her choice.

Nordstrom representative Sandra Loza, Nordstrom's diversity affairs director of its Midwest region, said candidates are selected by a regional committee, which evaluates students for their academic record and community involvement.

She added that said the program is an effort to support education in the communities where they do business.

"Basically, we look for students that stand out," Loza said, "and Janice is definitely one of those students."

Another one is Ekamjeet Dhillon, of Palatine High School, who was surprised last Monday by Loza when she tracked him down in his AP Biology class to present him with the scholarship news and a new laptop computer.

Dhillon recently scored a perfect 36 on the ACT college entrance exam and is captain of both the school's tennis and math teams.

Guzon, too, is an honor student at the Catholic Arlington Heights school where she is co-editor in chief of the school newspaper, plays in the band and is in the social justice club.

Her parents, Ben and Alice, are natives of the Philippines, consequently one of her essays talked about diversity, as well as the international health mission started in 2008, called EYESee.

In it, Guzon led her 40 of St. Viator classmates in a collection drive that netted more than 7,000 pairs of used eyeglasses from campaigns held at local churches, senior centers and schools.

She then coordinated efforts with international humanitarian organizations to distribute them to residents in Third World countries.

"The statistics are horrifying," Guzon says. "There are something like 500 million people in the world with uncorrected refracted errors, with 300 million of them living in developing countries."

Statistics also show that 4 million pairs of eyeglasses are thrown out each a year in this country, and less than 1 million are collected.

Loza said the scholarship program allows Nordstrom officials to celebrate in the success of their communities in developing well rounded young people.

"I sometimes worry about what the future holds," Loza said, "but with people like you in the world, I'm not as worried about what the future holds."