A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Leilani Bigott

A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Leilani Bigott

Leilani Bigott is a high school student and resident of Whiting who loves being part of the community and continually pushes the boundaries of what is expected of both an outstanding student and an outstanding community member.

"I actually didn't grow up in Whiting," says Bigott. "I've lived my entire life in Highland. I've been an out of district student since 6th grade (2009). I didn't know Whiting existed until my elementary school, St. Catherine of Siena, was closing. As a child, I thought I was going to Bishop Noll for high school because it was the only high school I knew about that was a catholic school nearby. But things didn't turn out like that."

However despite this early setback, Bigott and her family found their way to the Whiting community and was very thankful and happy for this final decision.

"Looking back, I'm grateful for how everything happened. Attending Whiting was the best decision my mom made for my education," says Bigott. "I remembered getting a letter from the school in the summer before 6th grade, and in the center it said "ACCEPTED." For not knowing about Whiting at all, I was excited to see that, and I couldn't wait to go."

Bigott is an active member in the Whiting community, crediting the many events offer to the community such as Pierogi Fest, Cool Creations, and Knights of Columbus. Bigott enjoys the closeness of the community.

"What I enjoy most about Whiting is the famous small-town close-knit community feel," says Bigott. "Everyone knows everyone, and I really mean everyone knows everyone. I'll tailgate at football games with my boyfriend's family and say hi to several parents, adults, or students because we know each other."

Bigott also feels that close-knit community within in her school, crediting the teachers and students as the major contributors to this safe and comfortable environment.

"I honestly feel I'm getting the most out of my education. My teachers find ways to make the learning process fun," says Bigott. "Being an Oiler, gives me so much pride. I'm a die hard fan. I'm so proud of the football team and how far they've come. Everyone in the community is brought closer together by their success on the field."

Bigott's success within Whiting High School comes from her teacher's who according to Bigott, make both school and the subjects being taught worthwhile.

"Ms. Regina Hylek and Mrs. Marina Klochan are my all time favorite teachers. They make me laugh the most, and I've definitely learned the most from them," says Bigott. "Ms. Hylek taught me Honors English 10, semester of College Prep (jr yr), and currently a semester of Speech. I'm also her aide 6th hour and I work on the layout of the school newspaper, The Tattler."

It's through these educators that Bigott has found success and enjoyment from her high school career along with her extracurricular activities.

"They're also my favorite teachers because they sponsor my favorite extracurricular activities," says Bigott. "They're definitely people I will keep in touch with after I graduate. I've built strong relationships with them over the years. I'm grateful to have been impacted by inspiring bright women."

When Bigott isn't in school or participating in community events, she enjoys relaxing on the weekends, watching movies, working out and writing, the latter of which provides her with ample practice for activities such as editorial work and writing for The Tattler and NWIndianaLife's #1Student articles.

Bigott's future plans include attending Purdue Univeristy West Lafayette for a degree in Early Childhood Education and eventually teach kindergarten students, a goal that she has already gotten a jump start on with her current experience of cadet teacher at Nathan Hale Elementary School, spending an hour each day working with 23 talented kids.

Bigott also plans on applying to Northwestern for Journalism, looking at is as a personal challenge to herself as the acceptance rate is only 15%.

"Because of my experience with kids it's made me decide to go into a career I was totally against. The pay used to matter to me, but I've been exposed to the impact teachers make and I want to do that so the pay doesn't matter to me because I'd be doing something I love," says Bigott. "I was undecided on my career choice all throughout high school and I thought I'd never decide. Finally, I know I've made the right decision."

Despite these lofty dreams and goals, Bigott still plans on keeping Northwest Indiana in her heart.

"I'll absolutely come back to visit because I'm a proud Region Rat."