ST. CHARLES – St. Charles East High School student Joseph Maldonado is not the type of student that you will find just sitting at his desk in a classroom.
When he's not in class, you might find the 17-year-old on a theater stage. Or on a tennis court. Or talking with his fellow members on the executive board of the St. Charles East Student Council.
Maldonado is this year's recipient of the Tri-Cities Jank Ambassadorship, which is awarded to one exceptional local youth who has been nominated by teachers, mentors and/or peers for their exemplary academic achievement and unique ability to demonstrate leadership, creativity, initiative and community awareness in classroom and extracurricular activities.
The Tri-Cities Jank Ambassadorship and Guitar of St. Charles Jank Award was established in 2015 by St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina in partnership with The Jank Guitar Store. A very surprised Maldonado received the award during a ceremony on June 12 at Lincoln Park in St. Charles.
Although Maldonado, who will be a senior at St. Charles East in the fall, knew he was one of the top finalists for the award, he had no idea he would receive it.
"I just knew they were going to announce who had won in Lincoln Park that day," he said. "I went and then I was just very surprised that I got it."
He humbly accepted the award.
"I'm very honored and I think it's a very amazing, exciting opportunity," Maldonado said. "I'm just very excited to see what will come with this opportunity."
Along with being part of the executive board of St. Charles East's Student Council, he is a member of the high school's speech team, the St. Charles East Drama Club and is on the school's homecoming committee. He is also on the school's tennis team and previously was a member of the bowling team.
After Maldonado graduates, he plans to attend college and then law school. He wants to become a lawyer.
"I'm interested in the whole aspect of criminal law," he said. "I'm trying to get some hands-on experience."
While he is on summer break, Maldonado will still be quite visible in the community. He is working as a concessions attendant at the St. Charles Park District's Swanson Pool and Otter Cove Aquatic Park.
"It's a fun little summer job," he said.
As part of the award, Maldonado will travel to St. Malo, France, where The Jank Guitar Store’s future location is set to open in 2020. The Jank Guitar Store in downtown St. Charles closed in 2018 after asbestos was discovered during a renovation project. Asbestos has been classified as a human carcinogen.
"I'm looking forward to experiencing a new culture," Maldonado said.
His parents, Leah and Christopher Macchione, are proud of their son and the compassion and kindness that he shows towards others.
"In general, we couldn't have asked for a better teenage son," said his mother, Leah Macchione. "We're just proud of him because of his endurance and how he's excelled over the years. That's what we're most proud of."
He was nominated by Sharon Young, one of his teachers at St. Charles East High School.
"His name came to mind immediately when I read through the criteria when they were looking for candidates," Young said. "I feel like he really embraces all the things that the Jank Ambassadorship requires."
Maldonado doesn't let any obstacle get in his way, Young said.
"Joseph has put his hard work in front of any challenge or difficulty he's had anywhere," she said. "He embraces things that are difficult, whether it be for himself or for other people. Through hard work and his compassion and his passion for things, he finds a way."