Student praised by governor for academic prowess

WILKES-BARRE — Kevin Regep’s dream is to become an astrophysicist or an air and space engineer at NASA.

But first, he’ll return to Crestwood High School to begin his sophomore year.

Kevin, 15, recently attended the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders program in the Boston area, and Gov. Tom Wolf sent him a letter of congratulations.

“This honor speaks volumes about your intellectual curiosity and academic excellence,” the governor wrote. “Your passion for learning has cultivated the important characteristics of determination and discipline that are required for a successful academic career.”

Regep served as a delegate of the Congress program in Lowell, Mass., June 29 through July 1. Congress is an honors-only program for high school students passionate about science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).

The event is intended to honor, inspire, motivate and direct the top students in the country who aspire to be scientists and technologists; and, after the event, to provide a path, plan and resources to help them reach their goal.

Kevin was nominated to represent Pennsylvania by Dr. John C. Mather, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and Science and director of the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists. The nomination is based on a student’s academic achievement, leadership potential and passion for science and technology.

During the three-day Congress, Kevin said he joined students from across the country and heard Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science recipients talk about leading scientific research; was given advice from deans of the world’s top tech universities; was inspired by fellow teen science prodigies; and learned about cutting-edge advances and the future of science and technology.

Kevin’s mother, Lidia, said she is very proud of her son and his accomplishments at such a young age. She said Kevin works hard to earn any recognition he has received, and she credited one of his teachers, Mike Stanek, a math teacher at Crestwood, for inspiring her son.

“Being inspired and extremely motivated, right now Kevin is looking forward to put his great knowledge and skills in practice and creating his own path of success right here in our Commonwealth,” Mrs. Regep said.

Kevin said he never expected this much to happen so quickly in his academic career.

“I’m 15, and so many great things are happening,” he said. “And my mom is so supportive. She has helped me get through it all. Mr. Stanek opened the door to math and science to me.”

The award from the Congress will be sent to Crestwood High School in September, and Kevin will receive the award from the school principal.

Gov. Wolf said scientific and technological development is essential for society to grow and prosper.

“I look forward to the positive difference that you will make as you pursue your academic and professional goals,” the governor wrote in his letter.

Kevin said he was honored to be chosen to attend the Congress in the Boston area, but he didn’t know what to expect when he got there.

“There were a lot of kids like me — nice, young people,” he said. “And we met so many influential and accomplished people. It was very inspirational for us.”

Stanek described Kevin as “a great student” whom he expects to achieve great things.

“Kevin grew almost overnight,” Stanek said. “Once we started talking about it, he became very enthusiastic. Since then he is so happy. The trip to Boston has encouraged him and given him the self-confidence to go forward and take advantage of every opportunity that comes his way.”

Stanek said Kevin’s interest in mathematics and science began in seventh grade.

“Something just lit up inside him,” the teacher said. “Kevin will achieve great things. He is a super student with a great attitude.”

Crestwood Principal Chris Gegaris said the district is very proud of Kevin for taking the initiative to get involved and participate in this life-changing experience.

“Kevin is taking responsibility for some of his own learning experiences, which we like to see,” Gegaris said.

Said Richard Rossi, executive director of the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists: “ Focused, bright and determined students like Kevin Regep are our future, and he deserves all the mentoring and guidance we can give him.”