A sophomore English major from Crown Point has been selected as Valparaiso University’s 2011 recipient of the Realizing the Dream Award, which honors an outstanding first-generation student.

Honored is Mladenka Sitnikoski, the daughter of Risto and Marcia Sitnikoski of Crown Point, and an active member of Valpo student organizations, including the Ambassadors in Admission, criminology club, and the pre-law society.

The $2,000 award is presented to a sophomore who is an outstanding first-generation student – a student who is the first generation in his or her family to attend college. The annual award is sponsored by the Independent Colleges of Indiana.

Sitnikoski said she values being the first in her family to attend college.

“My parents came here with me from Macedonia when I was about a year old, in hopes of starting a new and better life,” said Sitnikoski. “From the start, my parents highlighted the importance of pursuing my goals through an education.”

Kathleen Nelson of Lowell High School was the teacher that Sitnikoski said consistently provided her with encouragement in her quest for a career as a lawyer.

“I do not only consider Miss Nelson a great teacher, but also a role model, someone who truly inspires me to be the best that I can be,” said Sitnikoski. “My parents and Miss Nelson have been extremely influential, and I know that getting this honor makes them proud.”

Sitnikoski and Nelson will be honored together at an Independent Colleges of Indiana (icindiana.org) banquet in Indianapolis on Nov 7.