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Chicago Automobile Trade Association Awards the 2023 Spirit of Carol Cooling Scholarship to John Hersey High School Student

The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), Chicagoland's new-car dealer association, today presented the 2023 Spirit of Carol Cooling Scholarship to John Hersey High School graduating senior Maya Wasilewski. 

The CATA established the Spirit of Carol Cooling Scholarship, a $1,000 grant, now in its tenth year, to honor Carol Cooling, a Hersey alumna and long-time NBC 5 Chicago Special Events Director who died of cancer.

Cooling worked closely with the CATA as a producer of the live productions of NBC’s Chicago Auto Show TV special, that won several Emmy Awards over the years. The CATA and Cooling developed a friendship that went far beyond the production of the specials.

When Cooling passed in 2013, the CATA wanted to keep her spirit alive by creating a scholarship that would allow her impactful legacy to live on. The scholarship is awarded to a Hersey High School student that highlights the positive spirit of Cooling.

“It is our absolute honor to present an award that helps carry on the legacy of such a remarkable woman and friend to an outstanding and inspirational student,” said Dave Sloan, president of the CATA and general manager of the Chicago Auto Show. 

The Hersey High School scholarship committee selected Maya Wasilewski as the recipient of the Spirit of Carol Cooling Scholarship because she embodies many of the characteristics used to describe Cooling. Wasilewski is a leader among her peers. Meaghan Waller, counselor at John Hersey High School states, “As well as maintaining high standards in academics, Maya has enrolled in several Hersey and community programs that would keep a small army busy.” She continued to add, “I truly find myself fortunate that I have been able to get to know such a fine young person.”

Maya is a very committed student who finds great importance in giving back to her community and making her school a better place. Inside the Hersey school walls, Wasilewski is the captain of the varsity cheerleading team, a peer tutor, biology aide, and a leader of gym class. Not to mention, she is a member of the World Language Honors Society and National Honors Society.

In her time outside of school, Wasilewski finds great importance in giving back to her community. She is involved in several volunteer service programs: SOS (Service Over Self), Feed My Starving Children, and works to facilitate elementary school fun fairs, to name a few. Recently, Wasilewski designed and facilitated an event where students wrote Valentine’s Day cards for the children at Northwest Community Hospital.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to apply and receive this award in Carol Cooling’s memory,” said Wasilewski. “Heading into college, Carol’s legacy is one that I will continue to apply in my life. I think what stuck out to me the most was the positivity she employed wherever she went. She was very passionate when it came to work, so, without a doubt, I will continue to appreciate her by displaying that same passion for my work.” 

This month, Wasilewski will graduate from Hersey High School and will be attending the University of South Alabama to pursue her passion for business.

For more information about the CATA, visit

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