Lukasz Zbylut, a New Utrecht High School senior, won the college jackpot.
The Bensonhurst resident achieved the incredible feat of getting accepted to 18 top universities – including all seven Ivy League colleges.
“It’s very exhilarating. It’s scary, it’s confusing, and it’s great,” the modest 18-year-old told this paper.
When Zbylut left Poland for the United States with his parents, sister and brother five years ago, he couldn’t speak English but was ambitious and motivated to achieve academic success.
“I perfect my reading by reading government articles,” he said. “I go on the IRS [web site] and I read tax policy articles because those are the hardest to wrap your mind around.”
“They’re very good sources for perfecting the English language,” he said. “A lot of words are SAT words.”
Although Zbylut was always eager to excel, he never thought he’d have his pick of any college in the country. (For the record, he was rejected by MIT.)
“You can ask anyone that in my freshman year I never really had any confidence in getting into these great schools,” he said. “But time passed. I did many things to improve my ability. I took as many advanced placement courses as I could, I participated in many extracurricular activities – debate, mock trial, student newspaper.”
He’s also been involved in the community by tutoring students at a local Polish elementary school and helping in a parochial school.
Needless to say, Zbylut’s parents are incredibly proud of their oldest son.
“After those acceptance letters started rolling in, it’s been affirmed that they made the right choice by moving here to America,” Zbylut said.
Zbylut’s siblings – a brother at New Utrecht and sister in junior high – must now follow in his very large footprints.
“I’ve set the bar pretty high but I have an extreme amount of confidence my brother will jump above it and in my sister’s ability to raise it and jump above it,” Zbylut said.
Having chosen to attend Harvard this fall, Zbylut plans to become a lawyer and eventually move into politics.
Zbylut offered advice for students hoping to earn high grades and admission to top colleges – do your homework.
“Don’t hate your teachers because they give you homework. Teachers love when you do well on homework,” he said. “Teachers really do get to see a lot of your character from your homework.”
And probably most importantly, he said, “Prepare for everything early – don’t procrastinate.”