Dominique also will earn $2,000 for her summer school assignment in Chicago.
The application process is rigorous, with Dominique collecting letters of recommendation, writing several essays and answering questions in an interview about why she wanted to become a teacher.
“There were seven essays I had to write and three letters of reference,” she said.
Dominique had the help of her Introduction to Teaching teacher David Covey, who nominated her for the award.
“I actually was hard on her,” Covey said. “I told her I wouldn’t write a letter of reference until after she wrote all of her essays.”
Once he started writing the letter, the words came easily for him.
“Dominique has a unique perspective,” Covey said. “When she was younger, she had an elementary school teacher pull her aside and tell her she could do better.”
At first, Dominique was taken aback, but she vowed to do better and it paid off.
“She’s very, very serious in class and takes her education seriously,” Covey said.
“She’s also a genuine person,” he said. “If she sees someone is having a bad day, she’ll say something to cheer them up like, ‘I like your shoes.’”
Covey said Dominique is persistent, especially when it came to persuading the teacher to give up his Coldplay poster he had hanging in his classroom.
“Every day she would show up in my doorway and she had a new reason why she needed to have that poster,” he said. “You knew she had thought about what she was going to say.”
Finally, at the end of the semester, Covey gave her the poster.
“She won’t give up on anything. She won’t give up on herself and she won’t give up on her students,” he said. “I don’t know many teenagers like her.”
Dominique, who is the first in her immediate family to go to college, will major in elementary education at Southern Illinois University in the fall.
A reception honoring the Class of 2013 Golden Apple Scholars and the 25th anniversary of the program will be May 11, at the Tinley Park Convention Center in south suburban Tinley Park.