The Matthew Kocher Foundation Scholarship was established in 2014 in memory of Matthew Kocher by his parents. Matt was a 15 year old student/athlete of Andrew High School, Tinley Park, Illinois, who drowned in Lake Michigan on July 27, 2013. The Matthew Kocher Foundation Scholarship exists to benefit students who have demonstrated excellence in the classroom, in school athletics or activities and who have exemplified outstanding character and leadership in the community.

Recipients for 2018


A young man that has realized a great deal of success inside & outside the classroom, especially in the Band Room. A 4-year member of the very successful V.J. Andrew band, Phillip has earned District 230 Honor band Distinction, a member of the St Elizabeth Seton Church orchestra, numerous other community music groups and over 100 hours of community service, he still finds time to compose music in his free time. As Phillip said in his essay “I really enjoy sharing my talents & bringing joy to our audiences”.


Had a very busy high school experience–over 170 community service hours, editor of the school newspaper, scholastic bowl captain, tutor leader, treasurer of the NHS, Superintendents Advisory Board, Principals Advisory, Science club, Illinois State Scholar, National Merit Scholar are only some of the many V.J. Andrew H.S. organizations, honors and awards our scholarship recipient, Victoria has realized. A truly remarkable young woman that has been very successful in multiple arenas and still has had time to give so much to her community, volunteering at St Stephen Church & Together We Cope, both organizations are in Tinley Park.

RAMONA BOURJAS (Picture Not Available)

Feels that the experience of volunteering at Christ Hospital helped her become more confident about her career goals in medicine. Ramona has realized academic success for her to validate her strong desire to pursue a studying medicine at the University of Illinois. She has found time to be very active at H.L. Richards HS as a member of the Cross Country & Track teams, LEO Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Unity Club.


A 4-year member of the V. J. Andrew H.S. Speech team, German Club, Volleyball team, a member of the NHS and a summer volunteer for 3 years at the KSD extended school year working with special education students. Jacquelyn is an aspiring Special Education teacher that seems to have many of the characteristics to be successful in the field.


An outstanding young man that knows the power of working on a team for a common goal. As a member of the Tinley Park Challenger Field development committee, he was able to see a dream come true. The dream of a baseball field that provides accommodations for kids that would otherwise not be able to play baseball. Also, he was a member of the V.J. Andrew H.S. National Honor Society, Center tutor, the math honors society, the Andrew wrestling team, and an All Area selection from the T-Bolt football team. He hit the books as hard as he hit his opponents. Sean plans to attend the University of Illinois next fall.


Has over 570 community service hours during her 4 years at V.J. Andrew H.S., that’s over 140 hours per year! WOW! A quote from her essay “Before this placement, I was only aware of what was going on in my life at my age & I did not fully understand the complete cycle of life.” This student’s compelling essay truly reflects the many learning opportunities that community service gives. Caitlin was a member of the T-Bolt swim team, water polo team, badminton team & bowling team. Caitlin is going to pursue her college goals at St Xavier University.

MADISYN MCDANIELS (Picture Not Available)

Always a volunteer that gave a special touch through her enthusiasm at the H.L. Richards HS Matt Kocher Games every January. A quote from Madisyn’s essay addresses what volunteering is all about, “Volunteering & helping my community, and the others around me, has helped me build communication skills, helps me gain confidence, and has helped me to make a difference in my community one person at a time.” She was a standout leader and player for the H.L. Richards Lady Bulldogs Basketball team.


A 4-year member of the H.L. Richards HS Wrestling and Track teams and still found time to excel academically. Jason earned Illinois State Scholar designation, recognized as an AP Scholar with Honors, and was chosen to the IHSA All-State Academic Honorable Mention team. Jason is going to pursue a college course of studies in engineering at the University of Illinois.


Planning to attend Illinois State University in the Fall. Brian has accumulated over 150 hours of community service in a wide range of venues from being a peer helper at V.J. Andrew HS to helping coach young children in soccer & basketball at the Tinley Park Rec Center, as well as volunteering for the Chicago Marathon. The scholarship committee made special note of a line in his essay ‘volunteering has given me different tools & insights that I didn’t have before” Isn’t that great insight to what giving to others gives back to us. Brian was 4-year member of the Andrew Cross country & track teams.


Planning to attend Illinois Wesleyan University in the Fall. Janiyah was a member of the H.L. Richards HS National Honor Society, a class officer and served as president of the renowned, H. L. Richards LEO Club. She also has volunteered many hours to her church activities and involved in the Big Brothers Mentor Toy Drive.

Lexi Benakovich


An Honors student from V. J. Andrew High School, graduating in the top 5% of her class. Alexa has truly made an impact as a role model on many. Her example of achieving excellence in many areas and still finding time to volunteer to assist others has left a lasting impression at Andrew H.S. Especially noteworthy is Alexa’s volunteering to work two mission trips to assist the less fortunate.  Alexa will be attending Ball State University to study education. We wish Alexa great success in the future!



An Honors with Distinction graduate from H. L. Richards High School, a top 10 student who will be attending Northwestern University to study medicine. Charbel was very active at Richards through his participation in numerous activities as well as in the community. It is said that volunteering allows students to take what they have learned and apply it beyond the classroom , a great example of this is the recently started charity by Charnel ,, to send items to children in war torn countries. Charbel has volunteered at Advocate Christ Hospital, as well as many National Honor Society sponsored community activities. All the best to Charbel!

A.J. Malzone


An Honors graduate from V. J. Andrew High School will be attending North Central College next fall to study Exercise Science. A.J. was the recipient of the Cook County Sheriff’s Youth Service Medal of Honor for his many hours of community service. In addition to being involved at school with academics and athletics, as well as volunteering in different areas, A.J. still was able to find time to work a part-time job. A.J. has touched the hearts of many with his kindness and humility. The best of luck to you A.J.!



From H.L. Richards High School, graduated with an impressive academic and extracurricular resume. Earned one of top 10 spots in her graduating class along with the designation of Honors with Distinction, G.P.A. of 5.357 on a 4.00 scale, while being an active member in Richards H.S. activity program. Katelyn has volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House, The Matt Kocher Games, Helen Keller 5K Walk/Run, Adopt-A-Family, the JDRF Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes. These are some of the worthwhile causes that Katelyn has chosen to help make a difference. Katelyn is going to attend Loyola University to study Nursing. The best of everything to you, Katelyn!



A 2014 graduate of H.L. Richards H.S. will begin his sophomore at the University of Iowa. Mike was an honor student, a member of the National Honor Society, a 4-year member of the very successful Richards football & baseball teams and was committed to community service. Mike was respected by all for his hard work and commitment to excellence.



A 2014 graduate of V.J. Andrew H.S. will begin his sophomore year at St. Ambrose College. An outstanding student/athlete that utilized all of his talents to be successful in both the academic and athletic arenas. Jacob had over 250 hours of community service to secure a very memorable high school experience.