2014 Selection Process:
1. Achievement in his/her field
2. Contribution to society
3. Association with Niles West
a) Candidate must be a Niles West graduate
b) Candidate must have attended a District 219 School for at least 3 years and must have
graduaded from Niles West.
4. Appreciation/Influence of Niles West on accomplishments
Past Years' Distinguished Alumni
2010 - Dr. Steven Dayan, '85
2011 - Judy Hsu, '88
2012 - Dennis Hu, '07
2013 - Howard Sandroff, '67
2014 - Tom '86 and Dita '87 (Jusufi) Merkel
Tom and Dita Merkel are making a difference in their community, impacting lives through their actions. Tom owns South Water Signs, a leader in the industry with clients such as United Airlines, Harry Caray’s, Jersey Mike’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts, to name a few.
Tom and Dita have two children in the Chicago Public School system. They are leaders in championing not only their own children’s education, but the education of every student at their schools, especially those that may be less fortunate. The couple supports tutoring programs and they provide extra learning opportunities—everything from funding, to hiring coaches and securing required equipment—so that every child has a chance to play and succeed. The rationale for this, Tom and Dita will say, “We had great opportunities growing up in the schools we attended; we feel we need to do what we can so that every kid can have that opportunity.”