Prateek Kumar ’07 Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

Prateek Kumar ’07 was honored this past summer as a recipient of the 2006 Congressional Award Gold Medal, the most prestigious award that the United States Congress gives to students. This year 242 students across the country were honored. Each of these students had participated in at least 400 hours of community service, 200 hours of both physical and personal development activities, and spent at least four consecutive days on an expedition. Kumar completed 450 hours of personal development and 375 hours of personal fitness. He took a five-day trip to Camphill Village, a community-based facility that serves as a home for adults that require special care. Kumar also completed 450 hours of community service. He began doing community service work when he was still involved with the Boy Scouts of America and was working his way towards the rank of Eagle Scout. However, volunteer hours are accepted for the medal only after the recipient has passed the age of 13 and a half. Kumar first heard about the award through Scouting during his Junior year, a short time after he had passed the age requirement. Dr. David Stern, Instructor in Chemistry, served as Kumar’s advisor throughout his community work. According to Kumar, Dr. Stern provided him with ideas on how to complete the various requirements for the award. Dr Stern said of Kumar, “[He is] an intelligent and highly motivated young man.” Richard Gorham, Kumar’s house counselor, also knew a great deal about the activities that he was involved in and was able to verify that he had actually completed the work. Kumar said, “I am grateful to both [Dr. Stern and Mr. Gorham] as they have been mentors for me throughout my Andover career.” Reflecting on the honor of receiving the award Kumar said, “It was gratifying, to say the least. The requirements for attaining the Gold Congressional Award are very stringent and time-consuming, but I had fun along the way. The award was a side benefit relative to the actual act of volunteering.” According to Kumar, he completed the service because he believes it is important for Americans to give back to their communities. He said, “I received a lot of help from those around me when I was younger, and volunteering was a way for me to say thank [them].” Kumar participated in many diverse community service activities that counted towards the hours needed for the award. Kumar initiated the Academy’s response to the December 2004 tsunamis in Southeast Asia. The Academy named him a Winston Volunteer Fellow and gave him a $500 grant to run “Excellence through Education.” “Excellence” is a program that he started in Albany to teach inner-city youth about the importance of a good education. Kumar currently serves as a Service Saturdays Coordinator with the PA Community Service Department.