Tiedt driven to make a difference in and out of the classroom

By Mike Ramczyk

Re-wiring the mind.

Burlington High School graduate Malik Tiedt presents his WIAA Scholar Athlete award following a ceremony in early May. Tiedt, named Outstanding Senior for the Standard Press, overcame adversity and looks to make a difference in the community (Submitted/Standard Press).

Burlington High School 2019 Outstanding Senior Malik Tiedt said it’s the only way he crawled out of a dark hole of anxiety and depression.

Growing up, Tiedt, the third of five brothers, experienced his father suffering the effects of a stroke, along with an abusive home, which resulted in countless meetings with therapists and court professionals.

Tiedt’s parents would eventually split up, and by junior year, he was suffering from severe anxiety and depression.

“I had to step up as a role model for my brothers,” Tiedt said Monday afternoon while visiting the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he will attend school this fall. “Everything that has happened, has happened for a reason. It motivated me to become the person that I am today, and gave me a career path.”

All those hospital visits resonated with Malik. As a curious, wide-eyed 12-year-old, he found himself asking doctors why his father was sick and what could’ve been done to prevent it.

A goal to prevent illness
Now, the Burlington High School Co-Valedictorian, who sported a 4.43 cumulative grade-point average (it reached 5.0 last fall), is looking to use his unique background to pursue a career in health, where he can help people heal and prevent diseases.

“My goal is to incorporate preventative health measures into modern medicine,” he said.

Tiedt is going for a five-year Master’s in National Research, minors in Anthropology, Biology and Chemistry, and based on his accomplishments, anything is possible for Tiedt.

The former National Honor Society president has done it all, from coordinating a Mental Health Awareness Week at BHS to earning the prestigious WIAA Scholar-Athlete award.

Tiedt said all of his sports (tennis, volleyball) and activities have always provided a good distraction to whatever troubles were going on at home or wherever, and he couldn’t be more humbled winning the Burlington Standard Press Outstanding Senior award.

“There are a lot of amazing people at our school, and it goes unsaid,” Tiedt said. “Our class is filled with talented, motivated people. I look up to them. This is so humbling.”

Ken Savaglia, a teacher and tennis coach at BHS, says Tiedt is a special person.

“He is a one-of-a-kind kid that Burlington will not see in awhile,” Savaglia said. “Definitely a leader by example. (He) does everything the right way. The fire in his belly to compete is contagious. He’s not gonna give up on me or the team. He wants the people around him to get better. Just oozes class when dealing with teammates that may not be as talented.”

And in the classroom, Tiedt brings that same attitude and work ethic.

“He works harder than most and sees the results because of it. He has no problem sharing what he knows, and how he knows it, with others. I’ve never seen a kid take so many notes and use the notes in all my years of teaching.”

There’s always time for fun
Growing up on Brown’s Lake, Tiedt and his brothers spent all their leisure time on the water, whether it was wakeboarding, skiing or tubing. He credits his passion for the water as the reason he is now a lifeguard. Tiedt works this summer at the Burlington Community Aquatic Center.

Continuous engagement
He’s also recently volunteered at an acupuncture clinic.

Perhaps the most interesting project Tiedt created was a Mental Health Awareness Week this past school year at BHS.

He received a $1,000 grant from the Department of Public Instruction. The positive initiative filled the halls with students in blue T-shirts, where the kids formed a bond and unity like Tiedt has never seen.

Mental health professionals spoke to students on the benefits of meditation and other healing methods for mental illness, and it was a rousing success.

Tiedt was interviewed on live television in Milwaukee and also was approached by two Wisconsin senators about spreading awareness throughout the state.

“I had strangers crying and coming up to me and saying ‘Thank you,’” Tiedt said. “I’m incredibly proud of the people who made it happen. We needed something to re-boot our minds. I learned so much that week. Mental health goes unnoticed.”

“What makes Malik unique is that he has taken the opportunity in high school to share his talents as a volunteer for community and church programs that help those who are in need,” said BHS Principal Eric Burling.

“It makes me proud to see a young man give over 200 hours of service to others while in high school. Malik works effectively with both students and adults.”

“I have always been impressed with Malik’s maturity and work ethic. Malik has the unique ability to work with and understand the different personalities that make up a classroom and team. He is respected and well liked by all. Malik’s high moral character makes him an excellent role model for our school’s younger student/athletes. During a time in one’s life where peer pressure is everywhere, Malik is a young man who maintains his focus and makes good decisions.”

Strong support system
The best decision has always been sticking close to family and friends.

A busy body, Tiedt jokes he has to put friends on his schedule. Always a planner, he is able to balance all he does by using his time wisely.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Tiedt said. “Don’t be afraid to be dependent. I give credit to my friends and family. And the community has enabled me to achieve things. It’s not a ‘me’ thing, it’s who I surround myself with.”

Tiedt looks up to his older brothers, Cru and Hegeman, as role models, and he tries to be a father figure for Porter and Zeke.

“There are lots of benefits to be in a big family,” Malik said. “It’s more support, and it’s always great.”

And his relationship with his mom, Heidi, is the most important in his life.

“It’s going to be really hard leaving her. I’ve always been a mama’s boy,” Tiedt said.

A look at the other nominees

Here are capsules on the other three nominees for Standard Press Outstanding Senior from Burlington High School:

Maddie Berezowitz
One of the top athletes in the class of 2019, marked by state championships in volleyball and a historic state run with the softball team, sports only scratched the surface of Berezowitz’s potential.

From the DRIVEN Leadership team to forensics to student government to FFA, Berezowitz demonstrated leadership and made positive contributions to the community.

The University of Kentucky volleyball recruit was ranked seventh in a class of 254 students, and the AP Scholar earned high honor roll six of six semesters entering her senior year.

Athletically, Berezowitz was a WIAA Female Scholar-Athlete nominee, and she was a finalist for the Wisconsin Sports Awards Cousins Subs Scholarship.

Berezowitz has been active at the Kenosha County Fair while coaching youth volleyball. She has helped the community, working at the pool and helping as a teacher in Community Education department.

At Kentucky, Berezowitz, who had a 4.33 cumulative GPA, plans to become a graduate assistant volleyball coach and earn a Master’s in Business Administration. She hopes to become a collegiate Athletic Director or Sports Psychologist.

Berezowitz said being a member of NHS, DRIVEN and student government has allowed her to find her purpose and make the most of her “dash.”

“I have learned the definition of a good work ethic and the value of being an active participant in my own learning,” Berezowitz said. “I developed a greater understanding of the lives and interests of my outstanding and diverse peers.”

“I have learned that there will always be someone to help, and we must always have the will and passion to do so.”

Emily Zuleger
You can catch Zuleger with a smiling face greeting customers at Gooseberries, and the jovial, personable young woman also helps out as a camp counselor for the Community Education Summer Recreation program.

With a 4.25 GPA, Zuleger showed her versatility in the classroom and the sports realm, where she earned four varsity letters in softball and tennis.

At Carroll University in Waukesha, Zuleger has been admitted into their Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and she will major in biology.

Active in Key Club, DRIVEN and National Honor Society, Zuleger helped initiate two events to raise $750 for the California Community Wildlife Relief program.

Zuleger made honor roll seven consecutive semesters and was an AP Scholar.

In 2018, she was voted Prom Queen.

Zuleger credits her talented class of peers for lifting her to new heights.

“I intentionally took challenging classes and realized my passion for healthcare as a result of having unique experiences at BHS,” she said. “As a result of these amazing, invigorating, last four years I can say with confidence that I am absolutely prepared to succeed in college. I had a full plate and am certain the experiences have bolstered me to continued success.”

“When I think of character and students who emulate the “Community of Learners” culture at Burlington High School, Emily Zuleger is at the top of that list,” said Burling.

“Driven, committed, friendly and focused are character traits that have allowed Emily to contribute positively to our school and community.”

Tyler Van Patten
A 2019 Co-Valedictorian, Van Patten’s accomplishments are second to none.

Student Government President, Academic Decathlon Captain and Future Business Leaders of America Vice President are just a few of the Georgetown University commit’s best accolades.

He plans to study Political Economics with a minor in Entrepreneurship.

“Winning this award would mean a great deal to me,” Van Patten said. “It is one of the few instances in which students are recognized for outstanding dedication to the school and community.”

School and community were big parts of his past four years.

A member of the BHS Shooting and Bowling teams, Van Patten also worked at Wisconsin Vision Associates in Burlington.

He was an AP Scholar with Distinction, a National Merit Letter of Commendation recipient and the Princeton Alumni Club of Wisconsin Book Award winner.

Van Patten worked hard to achieve a 4.43 GPA, and he has big plans for the future.

“I want to go to law school and get a job as a corporate lawyer. Eventually, I want to go on to do something to help real people, to make a difference in the world. I want to serve my country in some form of elected office or policymaking position, so I can work to improve the lives of my fellow Americans and make real change that has a positive impact on real people.”

Van Patten has volunteered at Richard Bong State Recreation Area and Seno Woodland Center, where he helped dogs, dog trainers and trees.

The well-rounded talent displays unlimited potential.

“High school has prepared me for the future by showing me the most powerful things in the world – kindness and grit (and caffeine),” Van Patten said. “For this, I owe the most serious gratitude to BHS and the community that supports it.”