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Rising Star Award Winners

2019 Rising Star: Dr. Scott Solomon, Uni Class of 1996

The 2019 Rising Star Award recipient is Dr. Scott Solomon ('96). The award recognizes outstanding young Uni High alumni who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and service to the school and to the community. Solomon spoke via video at Uni's May graduation, and will serve as the keynote speaker Oct. 4 to kick off the 2019 Uni High Gala and ReUNIon Weekend. In addition to publishing his first book in 2016 (Future Humans: Inside the Science of Our Continuing Evolution), he teaches Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Scientific Communication at Rice University. Solomon also teaches field biology at Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, and he developed a complete digital course on the modern science of evolution with The Great Courses. He speaks about science at schools, museums, churches, science cafés, TEDx events and other venues around the country. His writing and photography have appeared in publications such as NBC News, Slate, Aeon, Nautilus, and Wired. Solomon graduated with the Uni High Class of 1996. He completed a B.S. at the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from the University of Texas at Austin.


2018 Rising Star: Helen Estabrook, Uni Class of 1999

Helen Estabrook (’99) is this year’s recipient of the 2018 University of Illinois Laboratory High School Rising Star Award. The award recognizes young outstanding Uni High alumni who have demonstrated leadership in their fields, service to the school, and to the community.

Estabrook will speak at the Uni High Graduation May 19. Following graduation, she will be honored at a dinner at Baxter’s American Grille in Champaign at 6 p.m.

Estabrook is an Academy Award-nominated film and television producer. Her career started with Up In The Air, starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick. She then went on to executive produce Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Demolition and Young Adult as well as other films the upcoming Tully from a script by Diablo Cody and The Front Runner starring Hugh Jackman.

In 2014, Estabrook spearheaded Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash. Whiplash won many awards, starting with the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance and culminating in three Academy Awards (with five nominations, including Best Picture.)

Estabrook is also executive producer on the Golden Globe-nominated series Casual, and has a television deal with Hulu under her banner, A Thousand Ships.

While at Uni High, Estabrook played basketball and soccer, and served as a Subbie Buddy and Peer College Counselor, as well as being a member of the Spirit Club and yearbook staff. As a thespian, she starred as Emily in Our Town and the fiancé in Arsenic and Old Lace. Upon graduating from Uni High in 1999, Helen attended Harvard.


2017 Rising Star: Jeremy Hobson, Uni Class of 1999

Jeremy Hobson ('99) is being honored as the school’s Rising Star award recipient this year. The award recognizes Uni High alumni who have demonstrated leadership in their field, in service to the school or the community.

As the inaugural Rising Star Award Recipient, Hobson will speak at the Uni High Graduation ceremony, May 20th. There will be a celebration dinner in honor of Hobson’s achievements beginning at 6:30PM at Baxters’ American Grille (100 Trade Centre Dr, Champaign, IL 61820).

Hobson co-hosts NPR’s “Here and Now.” Before joining Here & Now, he hosted the Marketplace Morning Report. He also was a reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C., and later New York City, where he covered Wall Street and its impact on ordinary Americans during the financial crisis of 2008.

Hobson has also reported and hosted for public radio stations including WRNI Providence, WCAI Cape Cod, and WILL in Urbana, Illinois. He spent years as a producer for NPR’s “All Things Considered,” “Day to Day” and “Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!”

Hobson’s radio career began at the age of 9 when he started contributing to a program called Treehouse Radio. He is a graduate of Boston University and the University of Illinois Laboratory High School.