by JENNIFER FRAKES | photo by Soul of Photography

Volunteer for Life

Giving back to the community is second nature for Mark Lindgren, a college freshman from Cielo who has been volunteering since he was in elementary school. “I find giving time and effort to philanthropies very fulfilling. Sometimes you interact with people directly and see the immediate impact you have. Other times, you may give in an indirect way, such as setting up for an event. Regardless, you are helping people and giving back,” said Mark.

While Mark was in high school, he was involved in Teen Volunteers in Action (TVIA) and served as the liaison for the incoming eighth grade classes. Mark was recognized for his academic and philanthropic achievements, earning AP Scholar with Distinction, the Silver Congressional Medal for community service, physical fitness and personal development, and the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. He also received the Sons of Italy Student to Italy Scholarship. “I had the opportunity to attend school in Siena this past summer. It was an amazing experience,” related Mark.

“My dad is a cancer survivor and inspired my interest in the medical field. He is also my personal inspiration.”

Mark currently attends University of Illinois in Urbana/Champagne where he gives back to the local community through volunteering for Swann Special Care and the Champagne County Nursing Home. He has chosen to major in bioengineering and loves his academic experience so far. “The program is small, giving me the opportunity to really know my professors and classmates, even though U of I is a big school. The course selections are vast, and I enjoy being able to explore different topics within and outside of my major,” revealed Mark. He is especially passionate about science and is considering attending medical school. “Coming up with potential solutions for medical problems is of great interest to me. My dad is a cancer survivor and inspired my interest in the medical field. He is also my personal inspiration,” shared Mark. He feels fortunate to be surrounded by other inspiring family members, including his hardworking grandparents who came from Italy, learned how to speak English, and are the backbone of the family.


Name: Mark Lindgren (19)
School: University of Illinois
Grade: Freshman
Parents: David Lindgren and Debra Ciaglia Lindgren
Sibling: Luke Lindgren (21)


In Mark’s spare time, he enjoys horseback riding whenever he is back in Rancho Santa Fe. He has been riding since he was six years old, and his affinity for horses and all animals led him to take an animal science course at U of I. “I have been able to delve deeper into how animals help humans in a variety of emotional and physical ways,” stated this accomplished and compassionate young man.