Tags: Featured Feature story, Geneva Lake West
April 23, 2013 | 01:10 PMWILLIAMS BAY — What would you do?
What would you do if your older sibling won the $1,000 Kohl Scholarship for Excellence last year?
In 2012, Cristybelle Canda won the prestigious scholarship. And she challenged her sister, Claire, to do the same.
"She sets the bar really high and I strive to reach it," Claire said in a recent interview.
What Claire did was clear the same bar as her sister, winning the same scholarship this year that her sister won last year.
"I just kept thinking, 'I can do it, I can do it,'" Claire said.
Claire said she was notified of her receipt of the scholarship in February.
Claire and other Kohl scholarship winners were honored at a dinner at Monona High School in March.
Claire said she got an "attagirl" from her sister.
"Cristybelle said she knew I could do it," Claire said.
Claire said the high point of the dinner was meeting U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl. "He's very well-spoken. He's very nice," she said.
Claire's father, Dr. Alex Canda, is a physician and her mother, Belle Canda, is a nurse.
Dr. Canda said he and his wife couldn't be more proud of their daughters.
"They're really driven and motivated and goal directed young ladies," he said in a phone interview.
Canda said he gave most of the credit to Belle Canda for his daughters' good qualities, because, as a physician, he wasn't at home that much.
He said he and his wife tried to impress on their girls that God and family came first.
"Did you do your best? Then God will do the rest," Dr. Canda said. He said he also impresses on his daughters that their generation has to do better than his generation.
He said he didn't see his daughters as competitors.
"There is really no competition," he said. "They compliment each other."
"That's a very unique family," said Megan Williamson, high school guidance director at Williams Bay.
The sisters are very similar in their interests and outlooks, she said.
"Both love music, both were on the student council … they're very good friends, too," Williamson said.
Not to mention hard to tell apart. Cristybelle is finishing her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
But teachers at Williams Bay still get the two sisters mixed up, Claire said.
Claire said the sibling rivalry between the sisters works both ways. They both push each other, but more along the lines of playful nudging rather than outright pushing.
"We were really close," Claire said of her sister. In fact, the students in the classes of 2012 and 2013 tended to feel close.
"After graduation (2012), we lost some friends," Claire said of her classmates.
"I miss having her around," Claire said of her sister.
Barry Butters, Williams Bay High School principal, couldn't compliment one Canda without complimenting both.
"They truly embody what you look for in an all-around student," Butters said. "They truly have it all, academics, athletics and extracurriculars. And no disciplinary problems.
"They're the type of kids that any parents would love to have."
Cristybelle is taking pre-med courses, and Claire wants to be a physician, like her father.
If her older sister provides motivation, her parents are her inspiration, Claire said.
Claire said her parents didn't push her toward a career in medicine. But they certainly led the way.
"My dad and mom, they want the best for us," Claire said. "And they treat all their patients like family, which is how it should be."
The Kohl scholarship is about more than classroom excellence.
The scholarship application includes a resume of what students do in the community and in school extracurriculars.
Claire's list is impressive.
She is a volunteer at Lakeland Hospital, working the front desk, sometimes helping patients to their rooms, and sometimes working in the hospital gift shop.
Claire interns at her father's clinic in Delavan, shadowing her father and watching him at work.
She is a member of the Williams Bay High School Biology Club, the Spanish Club and the History Club. With the History Club, Claire helped restore Frost Park at the corner of Geneva and College streets in Williams Bay.
She performs piano recitals at the school and at area nursing homes and care centers, and she helps out at her church, St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, Lake Geneva.
In sports, she's played for Williams Bay High School in basketball and volleyball, and this year, she's trying softball.
Claire also played club volleyball, and this past year she played on the national team at the world championships at the ESPN Center in Orlando, Fla.
Claire said she's ready to "dive in" to her studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
She plans to major in either biology or pharmacology as part of her premedical school studies.
But she is also enjoying the afterglow of winning the Kohl's scholarship, for just a little while longer.
"It's just an honor to be a recipient of this scholarship at this school," Claire said.