The Orange Leaf at Shadow Lake lures Ben Yanovich through its doors about once a week. A bowl of frozen yogurt is refreshing to the 2019 Gross Catholic graduate at the end of a hot day spreading river rock and installing edging at his landscaping job. The visit also gives him a chance to talk up fellow classmates behind the counter – Jonah Galardi and cousin Izzy McCartney.
He covers the strawberry and vanilla swirls in his bowl with bright red maraschino cherries.
“I love cherries,” he said. So much so, that he regularly passes on cake. “Every birthday I have my mom bake me a cherry pie.”
He’s just as certain about his other choices. This fall he’s at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) pursuing a science degree, possibly chemistry. Then he’s onto the University of Nebraska Medical Center to become a pharmacist.
“I’ve always been interested in math and science,” he said. “I’m not a big reading and English guy.”
Yanovich earned a Regents Scholarship to UNO and a second scholarship through the university’s Honors Program. He will live on Scott Campus in a residential hall with like-minded achievers. He was just as sure about succeeding at Gross when he entered. Yanovich became one of 22 Ortman Scholars in Gross’s 2019 graduating class.
The Ortman Scholar Award, named for one of Gross Catholic’s founding donors, Louise Ortman Gross, is the highest academic honor awarded to graduating seniors who have earned a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 or higher. At the May graduation, fellow scholars elected Yanovich to deliver the graduation speech in which he defined his class’s traits as “faithful, compassionate and driven.”
In his commencement speech, noted, “Being faithful is about more than simply praying,” Yanovich wrote in his speech. “In order to be a faithful person, one must be both loyal and steadfast. . . . We are not simply friends, but brothers and sisters enduring a journey together. . . . Faith is confidence for all of life’s journeys.”
Yanovich also addressed how students grow in compassion through the 85 hours of required service. “While at the time, the service may have seemed boring or pointless, it truly developed our minds to consistently seek out the needs of others.”
His speech concluded with the declaration that the strongest attribute is Gross Catholic students’ “relentless and ambitious desire to complete a goal. We possess a winning mentality and soft hearts. There is nothing that can stand in our way.”
At Gross Catholic, Yanovich played freshman basketball, three years of football and four years of soccer. He was on the speech team – captain junior and senior years – and sophomore student council executive representative. These experiences build life skills, which Yanovich says is “something that is undervalued.” Math and chemistry classes pointed him towards a career as a pharmacist. And he plans to expand on his four years of high school Spanish with a minor at UNO.
Principal Paulette Neuhalfen calls Yanovich a leader.
“He is always upbeat, smiling and happy,” she shares. “He leads by his actions on the soccer field and off, and by the way he participates in many activities here at Gross … Ben has a contagiousness personality that draws people to him.”
As the son of Gross Catholic alumni Rick (’91) and Christine Dineen (’90), Yanovich and his older brother Trevor (’17) attended Gross Catholic football games and other events while they were still in elementary school at St. Columbkille in Papillion.
“It’s been a part of our lives,” he recalls. “I felt I belonged before I set foot as a freshman.”
Just like his parents, Yanovich plans to keep his ties to the Cougar Family in the years to come. He envisions working as a pharmacist in the metro area, living in Papillion, and “giving my kids the same opportunity I’ve had.”
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About Gross Catholic
One of Nebraska’s premier private schools, Gross Catholic High School is a faith and family-based community committed to developing Christian leaders through academic excellence in the Marianist tradition. Recognized locally for its outstanding education, welcoming atmosphere, competitive sports programs, engaging activities, robust faith, and boundless service work, Gross Catholic has energized the Omaha area for over 50 years. We are Faithful, Compassionate, and Driven! We are Gross Catholic!
To discover the Gross Catholic difference, contact us at 402.734.2000 or visit our Admissions page at grosscatholic.org.