This Polish kid is wicked smart! (But not smart enough for MIT)

from The New York Post —

By YOAV GONEN, Education Reporter

ACCEPTABLE: Brooklyn’s New Utrecht HS valedictorian, Lukasz Zbylut, yesterday shows acceptance letters from 18 top colleges — thanks to his 104.7 weighted grade average.

June 17, 2008
Not many teenagers get the chance to say “no” to Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, Penn, Georgetown, Stanford or NYU.
But New Utrecht HS valedictorian Lukasz Zbylut denied offers from all of them this year – he’s going to Harvard. Despite entering one of the most competitive college-application seasons ever at top institutions, the 18-year-old Brooklyn brainiac got accepted into 18 selective schools – including all seven Ivy League colleges he applied to.
“Each time the fat [acceptance] envelope rolled in, I stared at it with an open mouth,” said Lukasz, whose family emigrated from Poland five years ago.
“I applied to all these great colleges thinking, ‘Why not?’ I took a shot in the dark, and apparently, I hit the jackpot.”
Although his record wasn’t quite perfect – he was denied by Boston’s MIT – Lukasz’s supporters said his feat wasn’t bad for a kid who started his New York education at the end of seventh grade.
In his four years at New Utrecht, he served as co-captain of the model UN team, captain and founder of the debate team, president of the mock-trial team, editor of the school newspaper and in a host of other positions.
He also found time to play soccer and volunteer in his Dyker Heights neighborhood.
Next week, Lukasz is graduating at the top of a class of 575 students – with a 104.7 average due to weighting of grades – before moving on to study politics, philosophy and law as a Harvard Faculty Scholarship recipient.
“I think what really sets Lukasz apart is that he’s very, very motivated, very independent and determined to succeed,” said Annette Magrino, a guidance counselor at New Utrecht.
While acceptance rates at colleges have stayed relatively stable over the years, the elite colleges have gotten more fickle of late, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
The percentage of students accepted at Harvard, Stanford, Brown and Columbia all hit record lows this year.
The association attributed the uptick in rejections to a jump in the number of high-school graduates who, like Lukasz, are also applying to more colleges.
“You have schools like Yale, Columbia and Harvard dropping down their acceptance rates to single digits,” said Desiree Jones, director of college guidance at LEDA scholars, a college-access program that Lukasz attended.
“To get into all of these schools is exceptional,” she said.
While Magrino noted the sacrifices the tenacious teen made in giving his summers over to academic pursuits, Lukasz said it was his parents who had made the real sacrifice.
His father, Miroslaw, traded in a cushy desk job as a factory director in Poland in order to support his wife and three kids as a construction worker in Brooklyn.
His mother, Barbara, has been taking care of the household after leaving a successful career at an insurance company back home.
“We’re very proud of him,” said his mom. “We believe one day he’ll change the world.”