Here am I, Send Me: National Merit Finalists’ Achievements Rooted in Love for God and Others

By: Alyssa Mendez
Being named a Finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program is no easy feat. Yet, it’s one that three CCA seniors were able to achieve, earning them a spot in the top 1% of graduating seniors in the nation and qualifying them for full-ride scholarships to select universities.

Kaitlyn Tully, Zachary Webb, and Danielle Engelberg were among the 15,000 U.S. seniors who advanced to the highest level of this year’s competition based on their exceptional PSAT/NMSQT scores, grades, community contributions, essays, and recommendation letters. They are no strangers to excellence!

Although we certainly applaud these three Eagles for this outstanding accomplishment, they also deserve a standing ovation for the heart, humility, and heavenly mindset that have fueled their academic performance during their time at CCA. They understand that everything they achieve is for God’s glory and that seeking His approval instead of praise from others should be the ultimate goal.

As you read about the different passions God has placed on their hearts and the gifts He has blessed them with, we pray you are inspired and realize that it is never too early or too late in life to make an impact for the Kingdom. This time to illuminate for Him is NOW.

 
 

KAITLYN ALYSSA TULLY

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” –Micah 6:8

GPA: 4.549
College: Patrick Henry College in Virginia
Major: American Politics and Policy (Pre-Law track)

Recently named valedictorian for CCA’s Class of 2020, Kaitlyn Tully displays profound confidence in her God-given calling. Although she has a passion for a myriad of subjects and causes — such as government, literature, theatre, foster care, and adoption — the Lord has shown her a career path that would allow her to harmoniously incorporate all of these interests.

Kaitlyn aspires to become a lawyer that specializes in family law and foster care, serving as an advocate for vulnerable children in the foster care system. Growing up, her family cared for more than 20 foster children and ended up adopting one, which allowed her to experience the joy of sharing Jesus’ love with children who had been subjected to unstable upbringings that led to challenges such as falling behind in school.

Because she had a free block in her senior year schedule, Kaitlyn met with her school counselor to propose the idea of interning with Donna Churchill — Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale’s Foster Care Project and Foster Family Support Team (FAM) coordinator — and received the support needed to move forward with her vision.
“CCA gives students an opportunity to make a difference,” Kaitlyn said.
Kaitlyn collaborated with Donna to start a free tutoring program on the church’s property for foster or adopted children. She also identified CCA high school volunteers to serve as tutors and be trained in a unique therapeutic approach created by the organization 4KIDS. The children not only experienced grade improvements, but also a newfound sense of confidence.

Kaitlyn has been nominated for a 2020 Miami Herald Silver Knight Award for spearheading this initiative. She is currently in the process of passing the baton to other CCA students so this program can continue to empower children through education and Jesus’ love the same way she was empowered by such things.

“Teachers like Pastor Schott and Ms. Spring told me God had put these passions in my heart for a reason and that I shouldn’t wait to act upon them. They knew me so well and recognized potential I couldn’t see,” Kaitlyn said.
“I used to believe that I was too young to make a difference, but now I know that one is never too young to implement change.”
*If the Lord is leading you to serve foster care children and families after reading Kaitlyn’s journey either as a student tutor or by joining a FAM team that supports foster families, please email DonnaC@CalvaryFTL.org.

 
 

ZACHARY ROY WEBB

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:9

GPA: 4.538
College: University of Florida
Major: Computer Science

Zachary Webb had an early start at CCA. Beginning in pre-K allowed him to develop a steadfast focus and discipline that not only resulted in academic achievement and being named salutatorian of the Class of 2020, but also a passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

Although he was always intrigued by these subjects and earned good grades in them, it was the encouragement of one of his peers during freshman year that steered him toward joining the school’s robotics team. As a CCA CyberEagle on team 77788G, Zach serves as a programmer, which involves coding robots to perform specific tasks autonomously and with driver control. Last year, his team qualified to compete in a national competition in Iowa called the U.S. Open Robotics Championship.
“It was exciting getting to travel and compete at such a high level,” Zach said. “Not a lot of high school teams get to go to a different state to compete.”
Zach has also had the unique opportunity to participate in highly challenging and academically rigorous honors classes at CCA that incorporate Project Lead the Way’s project-and problem-based curriculum. This STEM curriculum is introduced at the elementary level at CCA and builds in rigor as students progress into middle and high school.

During the beginning of his senior year, he was placed on a team with two other seniors to decide what kind of problem they wanted to spend the rest of the school year solving. The group ended up designing a program that gives programmers the freedom to code in their own style by adapting their code to a universal style that can be easily shared with others. Last month, Zach and his teammates presented this project virtually to a group of engineering professionals in the community who provided positive, constructive feedback.

This project served as a Project Lead the Way capstone course, which is part of CCA’s STEM endorsement track. Endorsements are essentially magnet programs that give high school students at CCA the opportunity to dive deeper into a particular field (STEM, Fine Arts, Ministry, World Language, and Psychology). Because Zach completed all of the requirements for this endorsement, he will be wearing a special honor cord during graduation.

At CCA, Zach has also been able to use his talents to give back by mentoring younger students and inspiring them to develop an interest in STEM. He has served as a counselor for CCA’s Robotics and STEM summer camps as well as a coach for the Elementary Robotics After School Program.

Through the biblically based instruction he received at CCA since he was three years old, Zach has been able to recognize God’s characteristics that manifest in the STEM field.
“It really shows the order and detail He’s put into everything,” Zach said. “He designed everything to work together perfectly.”
 
 

DANIELLE DEMETRIA ENGELBERG

“Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” –John 13:16-17

GPA: 4.441
College: University of Florida
Major: Mathematics

Danielle Engelberg is a young woman who’s committed to blooming wherever she’s planted by God and making the most of every opportunity He presents to her — whether it’s to learn as much as she can through the Christian education she has received at CCA since second grade, or to volunteer in the community to serve people who are in need.

Danielle will be graduating with a silver honor cord, which indicates that she has completed 240 hours of community service. Her passion for service began at an early age when she would volunteer at Sheridan House Family Ministries with her mother, who is a single mom. At the annual events the organization programmed, Danielle and her mother were able to minister to other single moms, at-risk children, and families in crisis.

The passion her mother instilled for volunteerism continued to blossom at CCA through her involvement in National Honor Society service projects and on CCA’s missions trips to Mexico and the Bahamas. When junior year rolled around, Danielle sensed that the Lord was calling her to spread His love to the homeless community on a regular basis.
“I've always felt like I was making the biggest difference when I was serving those who were largely ignored or rejected by society,” Danielle said.
Every Thursday after school, Danielle spent her evenings at the HOPE South Florida shelter serving meals to homeless individuals in the name of Jesus and getting to know them and their stories better.
“I was always blown away by how polite, kind-hearted, and thoughtful they were,” she said.
Homelessness is a cause Danielle hopes to continue championing and destigmatizing when she goes to study at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Although she is a declared mathematics major, Danielle is open to exploring other majors in the science field that could one day complement her passion for service. Instead of worrying, Danielle is trusting God through the process and yielding her heart to His guidance.
He was faithful to open doors for her in the past, and He will be faithful to open them again.
 
Kaitlyn, Zach, and Danielle are examples to us all in the way they exude kindness, selflessness, and compassion — characteristics that reflect their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We pray He uses their accomplishments as well as the accomplishments of all of our students to draw others to His marvelous light.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” -1 Timothy 4:12

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  • Brian Webb
    Very proud of these outstanding students! May God use them during college and in their chosen fields. Blessings to them and their families!

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