2013 Achievers

Students. Leaders. Achievers.

1,100 students from around the country became Buick Achievers in 2013. These exceptional individuals were rewarded with more than
$4.2 million in total scholarship funds. Learn about five of this year's scholarship recipients and their achievements as students, leaders,
and volunteers. Click on student name on the left to see their story.

Benjamin Zavala

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
College: University of Cincinnati
Major: Transportation Design

Bio: Benjamin's passion for cars has led to his participation in automotive design competitions. He has been recognized for his designs of automotive seats, tires, as well as building a street legal electric car. Besides his enthusiasm for cars, Benjamin still finds the time to give back in his community. His list of volunteer activities includes feeding the homeless, renovating a school, selling local artwork and building a home. The project that has given him the most satisfaction is his volunteer time at a computer recycling center. He is able to use his computer knowledge to restore computers that can then be donated to schools and local families. At the University of Cincinnati, Benjamin has had the opportunity to participate in several internships to support his interest in the automotive industry.

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Sharnique Smith

Hometown: Cordova, TN
College: University of Mississippi
Major: Marketing

Bio: Sharnique has been extremely active in both her school and community. She has participated on numerous community service projects through her involvement in the Teenage Improvement Club. Sharnique has also served as the Community Service Chairperson for the Phi Gamma Kappa Organization assisting with events for Earth Day, holiday parties for children, and as a school volunteer advocate. One of her proudest achievements is her work as a volunteer dance instructor for young girls. Sharnique uses patience and her positive outlook to teach the girls determination and confidence. She is inspired by the smiles she sees on the girls' faces when they perform. In addition to her community service work, Sharnique is active at her high school as a member of the dance team, Future Business Leaders of America and Multi-cultural Club.

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Donald Chao

Hometown: Bellevue, WA
College: University of Michigan
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Bio: Donald is a shining example of youth making positive contributions in their community. He founded a non-profit organization called the Ocean Acidification Education Project which has motivated thousands of individuals to take action to protect marine ecosystems from deterioration. He has served as a Council Member on his city's youth council and as the Marketing Committee Director for the Arthritis Foundation (Great West Region). When Donald noticed that many senior citizens felt distanced from their loved ones, he started "Teach My Grandma" to educate seniors on how to use technology to connect to their families. At school, Donald is a member of the Honor Society, Key Club and swim team.

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Nicole Kennard

Hometown: Acworth, GA
College: Georgia Institute of Technology
Major: Materials Engineering

Bio: Nicole has proven her dedication to serving others through her involvement in school and community activities. She has volunteered at nursing homes, for toy drives, and at events for Earth Day and Veterans Day. Nicole is the founder of the Green Team, her school's first environmental club. Through her leadership, the club has set up a recycling program which not only recycles classroom supplies, but also recycles materials at community and sporting events. Nicole tries to pass these values on to others by providing environmental education at the elementary school. Nicole is a member of her school's Marching Band, National Honor Society and Alpha School Leadership Team.

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Devin Willis

Hometown: Chateaugay, NY
College: Clarkson University
Major: Chemical Engineering

Bio: Devin's dedication to helping others is easily observed through his community service. His list of volunteer activities includes work at the local humane society, food pantry, blood drives and Operation Christmas Child. An avid skier, Devin shares his skills by mentoring young beginning skiers through an Elementary Ski Day program. He also finds time to help elderly neighbors with chores such as lawn mowing, raking leaves and staining fences. Devin believes that these small and ordinary things help make his community a nicer place to live. At his high school, he is a member of the National Honor Society and plays on the soccer, basketball and baseball teams.

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What Achievers Are Saying About Their Scholarship

“I am thankful for the opportunity to attend college and getting to attend my dream school is more than I could ask for.
As a recipient of the Buick Achiever's Scholarship, I am one step closer to obtaining my goals.” —Megan M.
“By awarding me the Buick Achiever's Scholarship,
you have lightened my financial burden, which allows me to focus more on the important aspect of school: learning.” —Zachary F.
“I am first in my family to attend a four year institution...
thank you for breaking the limits on my education due to lack of money...and for making a difference in my life.” —Tam V.
“I am honored to be among the recipients of the Buick Achiever's Scholarship. One letter in the mailbox has changed the game for me.
Thank you sincerely for choosing me to represent what this award means...for all of the cool experiences that have followed.” —Sharnique S.
“I have a vision of engineering a better world through hard work and an eye to the future. Thanks to your scholarship,
I am able to spend more time focusing on my studies, as well as, getting hands on engineering and leadership experience.” —Brandy B.
“Winning this scholarship proves to myself and others that you can do whatever you want as long as you work hard at it.
Thank you for investing in my future and changing my life forever.” —Caroline M.