Reaching for the stars: Robert Washington, Jr. named National Recognition Program Scholar


Photo by Robert Washington

Senior Robert Washington, Jr. qualified as a College Board National Recognition Program Scholar at the end of 2021.

By Sophia Johnson, Reporter

Robert Washington Jr., senior, of Carol Stream, has been identified as a College Board National Recognition Program Scholar by testing in the top 2.5% in the region among African American or Hispanic/Latinx students from the PSAT test taken last October. 

To be eligible for recognition, students must take the PSAT in October of their junior year, in addition to achieving minimum requested scores and a GPA of 3.5 or higher. This honor would give Washington eligibility for a special scholarship through the College Board.

Washington was elected Homecoming king by his peers earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of Robert Washington)

“I found out on that Thursday which happened to be December 2, the day before my birthday. It was a really cool moment,” said Washington, who learned about the honor during Concert Choir. 

Mr. Fantozzi, the choir teacher, said that I needed to go down to see Dr. Dwyer.” 

Assuming the worst, Washington was nervous about what the principal wanted to discuss, and feared he was in trouble. His suspicions were anything but correct: Dr. Dwyer handed me a piece of paper, and before I could register what was on the paper, I was being congratulated.”

Washington’s teachers were not surprised about his achievement, as he is a strong student, and highly involved in extracurricular activities. Washington excels in all aspects of school, maintaining a 5.451 GPA and leadership positions in the music department and clubs, like A Cappella Chamber Choir, swim team, WEGO Global.

“Robert’s electric personality is contagious, so it’s hard not to smile when he is around,” said science teacher Brianna Ferreiro. 

“Robert Washington Jr. is very deserving of the distinction of a College Board Program Scholar. He has the drive and determination to reach his goals,” said Gavin Engel, counselor.

Although Washington is not guaranteed a scholarship through the program, the recognition is viewed as a high honor to colleges, and highlights the achievements of underrepresented groups in the community and region. 

Washington has worked hard to achieve his goals and places emphasis on “knowing things” and prioritizes learning over “getting things done.”

“Most importantly, I think it’s important that you like to learn and that you lean into your interests,” Washington said, “That’s what has driven me and I believe that’s been a big factor in my success as a student.”

Washington’s friends admire his commitment to his studies, and winning personality. He is often described as someone who likes to make others laugh, but knows when to be serious.

Washington’s peers say he is “funny” but knows when to be “studious” as well. Many spoke about Washington’s passion and drive. (Photo courtesy of Robert Washington)

Washington’s good friend, Gerardo Avila, senior, said, “I met Robert at the start of my freshman year during Mixed Chorus. He is not only a studious person, but also pays attention to detail.”

Classmate and fellow choir member, Leah Nika, junior, agrees with Avila’s comment and said, “Robert is the greatest! He’s always so quick with a joke, and has so much passion for everything that he does, whether it’s choir, school, or sports.”

Regardless of whether he receives the scholarship, Washington looks towards the future with hopeful eyes, and has serious plans to work on building his dream life. 

Washington said, “I am currently planning on going into a civil engineering major at University of Illinois, Purdue, or Washington University in St. Louis…I hope to work at one of the top roller coaster companies or an engineering firm for a major city.”