By Margaret Sueme, Education & Outreach Coordinator
Better Business Bureau values ethics. We see first-hand the impact of ethical business practices and consumer behavior because of the importance of ethics in the marketplace, BBB believes we need to teach high school students the importance of ethics at an early age. High school students are facing ethical choices everyday: cheating, skipping school, stealing, etc. This is where BBB’s ethics education comes in to help students learn how to make ethical choices throughout their lives. Students amaze us with their essays each year about ethical choices they have faced and overcome in our Student of Ethics awards. We had two young women in the St. Louis area who received the awards this year – Taylor Mateyka and Caroline Zupan.
Taylor Mateyka of Edwardsville High School in Edwardsville, IL, made big strides in how her high school community talked about disability. Mateyka has been an advocate for peers with disabilities for many years. She realized how sensitive her friends with disabilities were to the word “retarded”, otherwise known as the “R-word”. It began to bother her how much it was used by students at her school. She ended up finding out about the “End the R-Word” campaign and worked with the Special Olympics chapter at her school to raise awareness. Together, she and her friends, created videos and posters and had a unified kickball game to get everyone involved. The campaign was successful and had a huge impact at her high school. Mateyka saw a problem in her school and worked hard to change peoples’ perception of their peers with disabilities. Mateyka plans to study biomedical engineering in college next year.
Caroline Zupan of St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Louis, MO, began tutoring underserved school-age children in literacy after seeing the socioeconomic differences that divide St. Louis. After seeing the incidents that transpired in Ferguson, MO, and the rising racial tension that swept the county, she knew she wanted to help somewhere. She saw there was a disparity in comprehensive education in St. Louis and sought to make a difference in reading and comprehension. Zupan wrote in her essay that she wants to see an increase in opportunities for those less privileged in society. Zupan has interests in social justice, human rights, and international relations that she will pursue in college next year.
The Student of Ethics scholarships are awarded every year to five students in our region who highlight their strong ethical behavior through leadership, community service, overall personal integrity and academic history. A panel of judges, in partnership with CharacterPlus, chooses award recipients. The scholarship deadline for current juniors to apply is June 9, 2017 with awards given at our annual TORCH Awards. Applications are available online for each region: St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Columbia, and Quincy.