This holiday season we’re giving thanks for our entire DreamWakers community, and especially the four individuals featured here who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, curiosity, and determination this year and beyond. We hope you enjoy learning more about what drives these inspirational dreamers by reading their #WhyIDreamWake testimonials below!

Teacher of the Year:
Heather Shotke

Teacher of the Year: Heather Shotke
7th & 8th Grade Social Studies & Language Arts Teacher
Los Angeles, CA

#WhyIDreamWake: “I DreamWake because learning is more than information in textbooks. Learning is exposure and experience. The exposure that Dreamwakers provides my students to the outside world is invaluable. The direct connections with reputable professionals that Dreamwakers flashchats provides, inspires and empowers students.

Middle school is an interesting age of insecurities and self discovery. It is always encouraging when a student finds their voice, embraces their individuality and discovers a hidden talent or passion. Dreamwakers help facilitate this, all while encouraging them to have the confidence to embrace their diversity and individuality.”

Student of the Year:
D’aijah Mclemore

Student of the Year: D’aijah Mclemore
5th Grade DreamWakers Scholar
California

#WhyIDreamWake: “I DreamWake because it inspires me to do my best in life and try to succeed knowing I can do anything I put my mind too.”

*A note from DreamWakers: We are honored to award D’aijah “Student of the Year” for excellence in flashchat participation. Specifically, she has gone above and beyond in engaging career professionals while exemplifying five of our core #DreamThemes: communication, confidence, enthusiasm, leadership, and curioisty.

Speaker of the Year:
Tom Di Liberto

Speaker of the Year: Tom Di Liberto
Meteorologist, Climate Expert & ‘America’s Scientist Idol’
Tacoma Park, Maryland

#WhyIDreamWake: “I am a scientist, a dad, and most importantly, a kid at heart. I DreamWake because breaking down the gates of entry to people from all walks of life into fields like science is incredibly important in creating the more diverse and inclusive future that we all need. In my life, I’ve had plenty of moments of self-doubt, wondering if I was on the right track, or if I even deserved to be on that track. At each of those moments, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by mentors who challenged me and showed me the path forward. Many others are not nearly as lucky. I DreamWake to show students that they can achieve anything regardless of their background, and to never give up just because they don’t think they belong. Not only do they belong, they are needed and wanted. I also DreamWake to inspire wonder through the mere act of curiosity. It’s cool to be curious and to ask questions. We start off life at a high level of curiosity, asking questions about everything, but somewhere along the way, we let that go. The only way I’ve been able to shift between scientific interests, from meteorology, to oceanography, to climatology to science communication is because I let my curiosity drive me, and was never afraid to ask questions along the way. So I hope to inspire students to always ask questions, to believe in themselves and to know that they are wanted. And one day, I hope to ask them for help when they aren’t students but colleagues.”

Volunteer of the Year:
Alison Agüero Dooley

Volunteer of the Year: Alison Agüero Dooley
Product Manager, Google & DreamWakers Advisory Council Member
San Francisco, CA

#WhyIDreamWake: “I DreamWake to ensure every kid (no matter their background) has the chance to be inspired to dream big and to achieve big. My own path to being a Product Manager at Google was heavily influenced by having early exposure to women in engineering. I was fortunate to have had this, and I love working with DreamWakers to make sure as many kids as possible can get these experiences as well.”

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