Talent to spare


Prep Charter sophomore Kim Di Tizio recently received a pair of tempting invitations.

First, she was asked to go on a two-week vacation to take part in an international bowling competition. Then came the opportunity to participate in the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine.

The 15-year-old received the acceptance letters two days apart in December, surprising the whole family, especially her mother, Joann Di Tizio.

"I was in shock," Di Tizio said. "She is really a hard-working kid in school and a hard-working kid at home. It’s really nice to be told that your daughter is deserving of this."

Kim Di Tizio, who routinely makes her family proud with an A-plus average, apparently impressed someone else with her athletic skills. An anonymous admirer nominated the student for the People to People Sports Ambassadors Programs.

Di Tizio made the cut, and was invited to represent the United States in an international competition. Bowlers can choose from tournaments in London, Holland, Beijing or New Zealand, and help unite student-athletes around the world in the pursuit of competition and friendship.

"I didn’t even know it existed," Di Tizio, who bowled in the St. Monica Lanes junior league last year, said of the program.

As adventurous as bowling overseas sounds, the $4,000 cost of the trip makes it an unlikely option.

Instead, the family is saving to send Di Tizio to the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine, which, at $2,000, is a bargain by comparison.

The forum will be held in numerous locations, including Philadelphia. Di Tizio, who was nominated by Prep Charter teacher David Hunter, is one of only 350 students in the nation to be selected. High-school students are chosen based on their academic background, leadership potential and interest in the field of science and medicine.

The Prep Charter curriculum requires students to spend one day a week volunteering in various fields, including medicine. Di Tizio spent part of the year working at Methodist Hospital, mostly in the short procedure unit, where she obtained blood and medicine for patients, filed charts and escorted patients as they left the hospital. The teen is now helping out at a local doctor’s office.

The 10-day forum would give Di Tizio a chance to expand on her medical education. Students are challenged to learn about real issues that people who enter the medical field face, including educational requirements, career options, clinical practice and legal matters.

Di Tizio will defer her enrollment in the program until the summer of 2004, which will give her family more time to save. Since Temple, Einstein and the University of Pennsylvania are participating in the program, travel expenses won’t be a factor. All students are required to stay on campus, and are only allowed to use special transportation provided by the program.

Di Tizio is helping to raise money by assisting neighbors with taking out the trash and shoveling walkways. She spends weekends at her grandmother’s house, where she pitches in with household chores like cooking and cleaning.

The student makes sure she still leaves time for bowling, which has always been the family’s sport of choice.

"They would go, and I would follow," Di Tizio said.

She still enjoys rolling strikes and spares, and is trying to improve on her 120 average.

"Every time I bowl, it’s considered practice," Di Tizio said.

Last year, her St. Monica junior-league team advanced to the state semifinals. Older sister Jennifer, who now attends La Salle University, bowled on a state championship team. Joann and husband Anthony still spend plenty of nights at the lanes, participating in regular adult leagues. Anthony also bowls in national amateur tournaments.

Kim, who also participates in Prep Charter’s volleyball and softball programs, has plenty of time to decide on her career, but for now her leading options are physical therapist or chef. Her favorite recipe to prepare? Macaroni.

She certainly has proven that she knows how to use her noodle.