Glenbard South High School student Kristina Wesselman was known for being a leader.
Michael Thompson, a graduate of the same school, said he hopes he can help carry on the memory and contributions of Wesselman, who was murdered in 1985. Thompson is the first recipient of the recently re-established Kristina Wesselman Memorial Scholarship.
He was presented with the $1,000 scholarship by Wesselman's mom, Sandy Wesselman, during a June 3 presentation at the Glen Ellyn school.
"It's an honor," said Thompson, of Wheaton. "I'm glad that I can carry on Kristina's mission of serving people."
The scholarship fund originally was started in 1986 by Sandy Wesselman. Kristina Wesselman served as class president during her freshman year at Glenbard South, and she was elected vice president her sophomore year.
Thompson was class president all four years of his high school career at Glenbard South. He will attend Tulane University, majoring in pre-medicine.
"It's a beautiful tribute to the school and the kids," Sandy Wesselman said, in talking about the re-establishment of the scholarship.
The scholarship was re-established by classmates of Kristina Wesselman, including Robert Dieter, who received a $500 scholarship from Sandy Wesselman in 1988. He was the last recipient of the scholarship before it was re-established.
"Kristy was an inspiration to all of us," said Dieter, a 1988 graduate of Glenbard South. "She was something that we all strived to be."
Dieter attended Illinois Wesleyan University and then went to the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He now is a cardiologist.
"More than the financial support, it was the thought of her that really drove all of her classmates," Dieter said. "The memory of her is present today, I think, for all of us... She always had a smile. She was somebody who ignored cliques. She was friends with everybody. She was just a genuine person."
Wesselman, a Glenbard South sophomore, was murdered on July 21, 1985, while she was walking home from the old Jewel food store near Butterfield Road and Route 53 in unincorporated DuPage County near Glen Ellyn.
Through re-establishing the scholarship fund, Wesselman's classmates say they want to bring the focus back on her life and legacy and away from her murderer.
Michael Jones, 62, of Champaign, has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault in the murder and assault of Wesselman. He pleaded not guilty Oct. 13, 2015, in a DuPage County courtroom.
If found guilty, Jones faces a potential sentence of life without parole.