Valedictorian 2016: Zachary Kowalczyk

Maeve Filbin '17

Congratulations to the Valedictorian of the Class of 2016, Zachary Kowalczyk! Kowalczyk has had four full years at Benet, skillfully balancing schoolwork and extracurriculars such as cross country, track, and swimming. Kowalczyk credits a large part of his work ethic to his involvement in these sports, which, like academics, require lots of practice and diligent work. Kowalczyk’s favorite Benet memory has been the past two summers spent in Wisconsin with the boys cross country team, finding fun with his closest friends in between grueling eight-mile runs.

He also recognizes his parents as big motivators in his time at Benet and would like to thank them for supporting him through all the late nights and stressful times (especially finals week). “… From a young age my parents taught me to always try your hardest at everything and be the best that you can be, regardless of the outcome,” he says. “They have never failed to show their love throughout my four years, whether it was cheering for me at all my cross country meets or just giving me a hug when I needed one, and for that, I am truly blessed.” Kowalczyk also feels fortunate to have grown up with his large extended family and cites his grandparents as his biggest role models. “I always admire how hard they worked to give their kids the chance to go to college and make better lives for themselves, while also keeping the family so close with so many fun traditions and celebrations.”

Kowalczyk is a very proud member of the Class of ’16, saying, “I was told that this is one of the most academically strong classes at Benet, and I am honored to be a part of it.” As for what sets him apart from the rest of the senior class, Kowalczyk is not quite sure. He credits his friends as a huge part in his success and would like to thank them for their support and their ability to always make him laugh. Kowalczyk has also formed lasting bonds with several Benet teachers, including Dr. Jennifer Gimmell, with whom he has been facing in an ongoing year-long iPhone game of Threes. He currently holds the higher score of 62,223 (“So Doc, if you are reading this, come and get me!”).

When asked if he wishes he could have changed anything about his time at Benet, Kowalczyk answers, “… when I set my alarm clock. As my brother Matt can tell you, I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, so I would probably set my alarm 15 minutes earlier.” After four years at Benet, Kowalczyk gives us a piece of advice: “It is really important to try your best at school, but also make sure that you have a balance in your life between school, sports, family, and faith. It is important to find your passion and get involved.” Kowalczyk found his passion in playing Benet sports, as well as engineering. “I have always loved to build things… you can probably find me tinkering with some wires, lights, and a micro-controller or building a robot. Right now I’m designing and building a smartwatch that displays texts that I receive on the screen,” he says.

Kowalczyk will be attending the University of Notre Dame next fall and plans to study Electrical Engineering. We congratulate him on this amazing accomplishment and wish him good luck with the upcoming college years.