By: Follow South Jersey Staff
VINELAND, N.J. — Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) student, Anthony Kukal, a participant in the College’s High School Option Program (HSOP), is headed to Yale University after receiving a scholarship that covers the full cost of attendance to study.
From a pool of more than 16,500 applicants, the 2022 RCSJ and Millville High School dual graduate, Kukal was selected as one of 1,600 QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship recipients to attend one of the nation’s best universities.
According to questbridge.org, “Match Scholarship Recipients are granted early admission to one of QuestBridge’s college partners with a full four-year scholarship, worth over $200,000.” Duke University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Yale University are just a few of the schools listed as the program’s partners.
Kukal, 18, who found out about the program from a brochure he received in the mail, noted a multi-step process in becoming a QuestBridge finalist that included filling out an extensive application, then sending additional applications to up to 12 higher educational institutions that he rated high on his match list. Initially, “I was hesitant to sign up for it,” he admitted, “but [since I got into Yale], it kind of paid off.”
Kukal said he was excited about the University’s “high intensity programs” and is deciding on his best course of action when choosing a major.
“I was thinking about [taking] Electrical Engineering … because I already have an associate degree in Engineering from RCSJ,” he said.
The field of engineering has resonated with Kukal for most of his life and he intends to use his “unique mode of thinking” to help others. “I like making new things,” he said. “It’s cool to be thinking about solutions to real problems and making things to make people’s lives better.”
Kukal, who graduated from RCSJ with a 3.92 GPA, has already had opportunities to use his engineering skills in real world situations. The Millville resident and Eagle Scout – with assistance from the Boy Scouts – helped to beautify the property of Cumberland Players, a community theater in Vineland, and helped to mitigate basement flooding.
Long-time members of “The Little Theater” were impressed and grateful for the work Kukal did in helping to keep the building safe for the public and for present and future performances.
“Anthony not only determined and calculated what was needed to rectify the issues in Cumberland Players’ basement, but he also led a group of Boy Scouts who helped complete the task,” said Michael Blandino, who serves as past president on the Cumberland Players executive board.
Kukal’s selection as a Match Scholarship Recipient helps him to continue to earn college degrees at an economical rate. As a student in the Early College High School program, which is under the HSOP umbrella, he was able to obtain his RCSJ degree for free. Kukal spoke about his time in the program.
“I definitely had a unique experience in the sense I was apart from [my high school classmates] in an accelerated program [taking] classes with college students rather than my peers I met in middle school,” he said. “I would recommend it as long as the student knows exactly how rigorous the program is that they are going into.”
Kukal, who was honored to be the guest speaker at the 2022 HSOP High School Collegiate Scholar Ceremony, has an extensive list of accomplishments. Some of his achievements include Millville High School Class of 2022 Salutatorian, a member of the National Honor Society, four-year Academic Varsity Letter winner, and Congressional Gold Medal recipient.
One could reasonably presume that the accumulation of his accomplishments, his hard work and his sense of wanting to “make the world a better place,” made him attractive to Yale University.
Kukal felt “pretty amazing” when he found out the Ivy League school “matched” him. “I mean, it didn’t really hit me when I first found out,” he revealed. “I didn’t really realize the impact until everybody knew. I was pretty proud I got into a school like that [and] my parents were very happy.”
“We were both extremely proud of Anthony when he was accepted to Yale,” said his mother, Bobbi. “He worked very hard in high school to give himself an opportunity to attend a school like Yale. He has a chance for an excellent education.”
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