Lake Minnetonka Senior Spotlight 2022: Strong Student Leaders

by | Aug 2022

Ketav Udupa of Minnetonka High School

Photos: Chris Emeott

Students understood the assignment: Be a positive impact on their school and community.

If education is the cornerstone of a successful community, then the Lake Minnetonka area is building strong leaders, some of whom we proudly feature in our annual student profile.

Celebrating and honoring those around us has never been more important. We asked area high school administrators to nominate students (Class of 2023), who have made positive impacts on their schools or communities.

Our job deciding who to spotlight was made all the more difficult due to the overwhelming number of deserving students nominated for this year’s profile. Alas, careful decisions were made, and it gives us great pleasure to showcase some outstanding area students.

Ketav Udupa, 17

Minnetonka High School (MHS)

“Ketav embodies the idea of being a giver in the MHS community. He is heavily involved in our student government and does so much of the work behind the scenes that make the amazing events happen we see each season. He has quietly also been working on his Eagle Scout over the years and has given a great deal to his community through the Boy Scouts organization. Somehow, Ketav does this while balancing his commitment to the varsity boys’ soccer team and maintaining the highest level of academic rigor you can imagine in the classroom. Perhaps, the most amazing part about what an amazing young man Ketav is comes through in the modest demeanor he has … He is a quiet leader and a servant leader, who epitomizes the kind of service that makes MHS the wonderful place that it is. The possibilities are endless for Ketav in terms of college and a career down the road, but the one thing that is for sure is that he will approach those challenges with humility, grace
and a drive to serve those around him.
He wouldn’t have it any other way.” —David Bierly, school counselor

In Ketav’s Words:
What is the one thing that has shaped who you are today?
One of the important lessons that has shaped my upbringing is giving back to the community. I moved to the Minnetonka School district from New York City in 2012 when I was 8 years old … Growing up in two different places, I have learned that it takes a community to bring together everyone and contribute to the growth. I have watched my grandparents (who also live in the Minnetonka district), and my parents give back to the local community in many different ways … Seeing their involvement and sense of purpose, it feels natural for me to volunteer when the opportunity arises. Through my scouting activities (I am working toward my Eagle Scout rank.), student government activities at [MHS] and through helping little kids learn how to play soccer at Tonka United, I better understand the importance of connecting with the community to positively impact the world around me …

What service opportunity did you find the most meaningful?
For my Eagle Scout Project, I was inspired by my 10-year-old cousin, Nirav, who lives in California. Nirav was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma [now cancer free] … I was prompted to give back to the community by creating cancer care kits for children at the Minnesota Children’s Hospital and Masonic Children’s Hospital. This care kit included personal care items that help when going through chemotherapy treatments, such as lotion, balm and soft socks. I learned that these items help ease the pain and make the patients more comfortable while going through these treatments. The kits also included items to improve the psychological well-being of the kids with items, such as journals. I wanted the kids going through a difficult time to know that there is someone thinking of them …

What three words describe your high school career?
Adventurous, rigorous and inclusive

What’s next?
I plan on attending a four-year college and pursuing a career in economics/business. I plan to continue volunteering and staying involved in my community.

More to know about Ketav Udupa:

  • Completed Eagle Scout Project creating cancer and long-term care kits for teenagers at Children’s Minnesota hospital and the University of Minnesota Masonic Hospital. 
  • student government representative
  • Assists with Unified Special Olympics Club, which enables students with and without disabilities to participate in sports and other activities together  
  • AP Scholar with Honors
  • National Honor Society member
Laura Sunnarborg, 17

Mound Westonka High School

Laura Sunnarborg of Mound Westonka High school

“Laura is a student, who undeniably pushes herself to grow, learn and inspire others. I have no doubt that the success of the Environmental Club is largely due to Laura’s leadership [as vice president]. Not only have the numbers grown, but the impact the club has is undeniably related to the way Laura has crafted groups of students, who are passionate about making a difference in the school and community. The skills Laura has as a leader to help others learn and achieve their goals are unmet by any other student.” —Wendy Richards, biology teacher and Environmental Club advisor

In Laura’s Words:
What is the one thing that has most shaped who you are today?
The one thing that has most shaped who I am today is the support I have gotten from my parents, coaches and teachers. Westonka is an awesome community! My cross country coach, Mr. Humbert, is a great example of a positive, caring influence, who has helped to shape my outlook on life.

What service opportunity did you find most meaningful?
The service opportunity that I found the most meaningful was a series of events I put on with my DECA team this year. Like A Girl is a career development chapter project that I have been working on since July of 2021 with Avery Roerig and Natalie Miner. One part of our project was a five-week program at Grandview Middle School, where we worked with 72 girls in [fifth through seventh grades] to develop their confidence, leadership, flexibility, creative problem-solving and teamwork skills. Girls’ confidence plummets at age 12, so it is important to reach them with supportive messages at that vulnerable age (Like A Girl Instagram: @llikeagirll).

What three words describe your high school career?
Growth, self-discovery and whirlwind

What’s next?
I plan to pursue a degree in environmental studies or environmental policy at a four-year college or university. I may combine that with a political science or economics double major or minor if feasible. I would love to study abroad and continue to be involved in community service in college. I hope to also attain a higher degree like an MBA, following in my mom’s footsteps. After I graduate, I hope to have a career in the realm of climate justice or sustainability.

More to know about Laura Sunnarborg

  • Cross country team member (All-State Academic, three-time state qualifier and captain, two-time conference champion, five-time team Most Valuable Runner)
  • Track team member (two-time conference champion, two-time team Most Valuable Runner and lettered five years)
  • Volunteer at the Westonka Food Shelf, Feed My Starving Children and church events
  • National Honor Society tutor
  • Volunteer with Feed My Starving Children and multiple church events
  • Westonka DECA member (state champion and three-time internationals qualifier and high test scorer) and two-time Community Service Coordinator, coordinating thousands of hours of community service
  • President of the Environmental Club (former vice president)
  • Four-year member of Student Senate (2020-2021 honorary executive board member and 2021-2022 communications officer)
  • Member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Link Crew and National Honor Society
  • ExCEL award winner, recognizing excellence in community, education and leadership
  • DECA member (two-time internationals qualifier and two-time state finalist and high test scorer); DECA international finalist and sixth in the world for Career Development Chapter Project; and Co-president of Mound Westonka DECA for 2022-2023
  • President of the Hennepin Division Board of Student Councils for 2022-2023
  • A founder of the Greater Twin Cities High School Environmental Coalition, which strives to make connections between high school environmental groups in the Twin Cities area.
Charles (Charlie) Kraus, 18

Orono High School

Charlie Kraus of Orono High School

“I cannot say enough positive things about Charlie Kraus. He is a well-rounded young man, who gives his all to his academics and extracurricular activities. He has taken a rigorous course load and has excelled at every turn. He is well respected by school staff and peers alike for his positivity, inclusivity and strength of character. When not in the classroom, Charlie can be found playing sports year-round, deejaying at school dances and participating in Orono’s Unified Club. He is most deserving of recognition for the legacy he has left at Orono High School and in the surrounding community.” —Kayte Haagenson, licensed school counselor

In Charlie’s Words:
What is the one thing that has most shaped who you are today?
All three of my sports are team sports, which has taught me how to work with and trust in others. Sports have also shown me how important it is to commit to something and work hard at it. When you play a sport, you have to be all in. If you slack off and do not fulfill your role and obligations to the team, then you are letting your teammates down and, ultimately, hurting the team. Sports have also taught me the importance of resiliency. Everyone is human, and everyone is going to fail at some point, especially in sports. However, when you make a mistake, you have to keep your head up and move on …

What service opportunity did you find most meaningful?
Our high school’s Unified Club gives students at our school with and without physical and intellectual disabilities an inclusive environment to connect and interact with others to build meaningful relationships. Many people in high school are excluded in different ways. Our Unified Club works to stop that through sports, club meetings and other various activities. By being a part of this club, I have gotten the opportunity to brighten people’s days and make a difference in the school. Getting to see a smile on so many people’s faces and knowing I made a positive impact on their lives is incredibly meaningful to me.

What three words describe your high school career?
Meaningful, fast and busy

What’s next?
I plan on going to a four-year college. I’m tentatively planning on majoring in biology with a [premedical] track in mind.

More to know about Charlie Kraus:

  • Baseball team member
  • Football team member  (All-District, three-time letter winner)
  • Hockey team member
  • Chairman of the Orono Unified Club
  • Special Olympics Minnesota Student Board of Directors member 
  • Class president on the Orono Student Senate 
  • National Honor Society member
  • DECA participant (state qualifier)
  • MSHSL ExCEL award nominee 
  • MSHSL Spotlight on Scholarship Academic Athlete Award recipient
Bradley Walker, 17

Orono High School

Bradley Walker of Orono High School

“Without a doubt, Bradley is the personification of the Character Counts Pillars. Bradley is an honest, respectful, caring and responsible young man. As a three-sport athlete, Bradley has developed the skills to be a hardworking, positive and reliable leader, which is why he was voted captain of the Orono boys’ hockey team this year. Not only is Bradley a leader on the field and the ice, but also in the many activities that he is involved with at the high school. Currently, Bradley is a vice-chair [and flag football coach] for the Orono Unified Club. As the advisor of the Unified Club, I have witnessed firsthand Bradley’s compassion, dedication and integrity as a leader … The friendships that Bradley has created with our athletes (students with an intellectual disability) and his passion for inclusion at the school is exceptional. He exemplifies acceptance for the Orono student body and the community. He is truly leaving a lasting legacy in the halls of Orono.” —Michelle Swenson, mathematics teacher and Unified Club advisor

In Bradley’s Words:
What is the one thing that has most shaped who you are today?
Going to a smaller sized-school at Orono, with caring and passionate teachers, where I am able to play three sports, has definitely shaped me into the person I am today. I have learned many life lessons from the countless training sessions, practices and games beginning with the importance of team camaraderie, respect, strong work ethic and how crucial leadership is to team success while still emphasizing a student-first mentality has undoubtedly shaped [and] benefitted me as a person.

What service opportunity did you find most meaningful?
Becoming the vice chairman of the Orono Unified Club has been one of, if not the most impactful accomplishments of my life … However, the impact this has held on my life does not stem from simply being titled the vice chairman, but rather the enjoyment and life experiences I have had through the Unified Club. Being a member, beginning all the way back in middle school,
I have learned the importance of treating everyone of all backgrounds/abilities with kindness and equality and furthering it by spreading this message, while building lifelong relationships, and I am extremely grateful to be involved with such an amazing group of people.

What three words describe your high school career?
Eventful, enjoyable and quick

What’s next?
[I’m] currently undecided but hopefully collegiate athletics or junior hockey.

More to know about Bradley Walker:

  • Varsity hockey team member (three-time All-Conference)
  • Baseball team player (All Conference)
  • Football team player (two-time All-District)
  • Vice chair of the Orono Unified Club
  • DECA participant (state qualifier)
  • National Honor Society member 
  • MSHSL Spotlight on Scholarship Academic Athlete Award recipient

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