Central alumna wins scholarship in national giveaway


Photo courtesy of Austin Ginn

Central alumna Kotryna Staputyte tosses footballs into an oversized Dr. Pepper can to compete for a $100,00 scholarship.

The crowd cheered as Kotryna Staputyte, a Naperville Central alumna who graduated in 2015, launched a football into the air… and it landed in an oversized Dr. Pepper bottle.

Staputyte was one of the PAC-12 Finalists competing for a $100,000 scholarship given away at the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway at Levi’s Stadium in California. She had applied for the scholarship after seeing it online. All she had to do was apply on the website, and link it to Facebook.

Staputyte created a profile and stated her long-term goal regarding her future career.

“It seemed easy enough,” Staputyte said. “It was just cool to see all those people from all over the US writing down their goals, because I think that the first step in terms of goals is to write it down and make it real.”

The profiles were then voted on. Staputyte received over 50 votes, so she qualified for the video contest. She then submitted a minute-long video in which she stated what she would use the scholarship for.

“My best friend has a developmental disability,” Staputyte said in her application. “I have witnessed him improve his skills drastically since his time in the US, due to the medicine he has obtained and the amazing support system and friendships he has developed. I strive to be the first doctor in my family to improve the lives of children worldwide who are impacted by disabilities.”

Staputyte’s best friend, Dominykas Mockapetris, is now a senior at Central. Staputyte had first met Dominykas when Adapted PE instructor Pat Adamitis introduced them to each other.

When Dominykas first came to Central, he didn’t know English and only spoke in Lithuanian.

Adamitis was having trouble with him in class because he didn’t know the language enough to understand what they were saying.

“I started telling [Dominykas’s] story to everyone I saw, and somebody raised their hand and said ‘Go find Kotryna and one of the Resinas boys’” Adamitis said.

Staputyte was actually in one of Adamitis’s other classes, and Adamitis moved her to the hour with Dominykas.

“The next day, when when we introduced them to [Dominykas], and they spoke Lithuanian, it was like God had just walked in,” Adamitis said. “He just lit up because he could talk to somebody.”

Ever since then Kotryna and Dominykas were inseparable.

“She totally took care of him,” Adamitis said. “I introduced her to his mother, and the family connected… she would take him everywhere with her, and she kind of adopted him as her little brother.”

Even after Staputyte graduated and started going to the College of DuPage (COD), she would often come to visit Dominykas.

Staputyte has come back to Central to take Dominykas to the school dances. Around two years ago, Staputyte and Dominicas signed up to hand out flip-flops to the people who were at the Winter Dance.

“[Handing out flip-flops] had just started around two years ago, and when it did, Dominykas and I volunteered to hand out slippers to the dancers,” Staputyte said. “He really liked it. He likes feeling useful. I enjoyed seeing him being so happy and involved and social.”

Staputyte didn’t expect to get selected for the competition. She had actually bought tickets to go to Boston with a friend on the exact weekend of the final competition.

“Right after I booked the tickets, I got a call from Dr. Pepper telling me that I got selected,” Staputyte said. 16 finalists were selected out of 90,000 applicants. The 16 finalists were then split into groups of four, and would compete for the scholarship at the location they were sent to.

Staputyte went to California, to compete during the halftime of the Stanford and UCLA game. The competition guidelines were simple.

“There was a bucket of footballs, and a giant Dr. Pepper can 5 yards away,” Staputyte said. “You had to throw as many of [the footballs] as you could into the can.”

Staputyte had prepared beforehand. An engineering student at COD made a plywood model of the Dr. Pepper can for Staputyte to practice with. She also borrowed footballs from both COD and Central, and practiced throwing the footballs on Central’s football field. Senior Connor Joyce helped Staputyte practice too.

At the competition, Staputyte made it past the first round against all four of the PAC-12 finalists. She then played a second round against finalist Isaac Castillo, winning with a score of 17-16.

After winning, Staputyte thanked both Dr. Pepper and Dominykas.

“[This scholarship] is going to change everything,” Staputyte said. “It’s going to help me pursue my dream of helping those with disabilities in the medical field without worrying about finances.”

Staputyte received a $100,000 scholarship, which she will use to later transfer to a different university. She wants to go somewhere along the west coast, more specifically in California.

Staputyte plans on working for an organization like Doctors Without Borders sometime in the future. Right now, she wants to get a degree in osteopathic medicine, which is very similar to a medical degree.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), osteopathic medicine is a branch of the medical profession that takes a more holistic approach to medicine, viewing a patient as more than just body parts.

“It’s very similar to an M.D., but the reason I want to get a D.O. is because it actually addresses the whole body,” Staputyte said. “I’ve seen it firsthand that a holistic approach to something really works. With Dominykas, he didn’t just get better medicine in America. He also got the support system, the sports, the activities, the school, the friends, and all of that really improved his health.”