A future of possibilities
Chaminade High School valedictorian and National Merit Scholar, Michael Carolan.

Photo courtesy of Chaminade High School

A future of possibilities

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
5/18/2017


EAST ISLIP—Michael Carolan of East Islip was recently named one of this year’s National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners. Carolan – a senior at Chaminade High School in Mineola – is one of 2,500 Merit Scholar designees chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program. And on top of that, he’s the valedictorian of his graduating class.

National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners are finalists chosen from each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies. They are selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors. The judges appraised academic records – including the difficulty of subjects studied and grades earned – standardized test scores, contributions and leadership in both school and community activities, special essays written by each finalist, and a recommendation submitted by a high school official. 

Carolan recounted his reaction when he learned about his selection for the award.

“I was extremely excited,” he said. “It’s really great to have some kind of recognition for the work I put into it. It felt like I achieved something great.”

Carolan’s outstanding academic, athletic and extracurricular record made him an ideal candidate. During his tenure at Chaminade, he has earned top tier grades, both in the classroom and on all standardized tests, while balancing a particularly busy schedule. He has spent each fall and spring season as a dedicated, accomplished member of the school crew team. During each season, he would regularly arrive home around 8 p.m during the week while spending most of his weekends away at matches and tournaments.

“It’s all been about time management,” noted Carolan. “I’ve really enjoyed rowing because so much of it revolves around teamwork and camaraderie – more so than other sports. Everybody is doing the same thing at the same time and we all cross the finish line together.”

Varsity crew coach John Callinan noted that despite not having the frame or body type of a prototypical rower (tall and lanky), Carolan still managed to prove himself and achieve great success out on the water.

“He made the team because of his determination and desire,” said Callinan. “At the height of 5 feet, 10 inches, he managed to make it all the way through the program as a member of the top boat. He is consistent, never backed off, and doesn’t let down. In the rowing world, where height can be a disadvantage, he has proven that he belongs.”

Meanwhile, assistant principal of guidance Daniel Petruccio spoke further about Carolan’s outstanding academic record.

“For some students, there’s no correlation between how they perform on standardized tests and in the classroom,” said Petruccio. “In his case, there’s an absolute symmetry. He’s nearly perfect.”

Petruccio noted that unlike most other schools, Chaminade does not weigh its grades. In that system, Carolan managed to achieve a pure 99.76 average out of 100 before the start of this school year.

“That is as close to perfection as we see in this building,” said Petruccio. “Everything he has ever touched has been of that caliber.

“One of his math teachers told me that when he is in class, he is focused and asks meaningful questions,” said Petruccio. “It’s a pure love of learning that fuels what he does.”

Carolan said that his favorite classroom subject was foreign language.

“I’ve always loved languages and started taking Spanish classes in middle school,” he said. “I love the idea of being able to connect and interact with more people. I feel pretty confident about my grasp on Spanish, and I plan on learning other languages in college.”

In the fall, Carolan plans to attend the esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is currently enrolled as a business major, and is considering double majoring in software engineering. 

“As I was applying for college, my goal was to go for business,” said Carolan. “When I was accepted into MIT, I saw more opportunities for science-oriented areas as well and found that I wanted to get into software. I think that is what will drive us towards the future and where the most important changes and developments are going to occur.”

Looking back, Carolan said that the aspect of high school he’d miss most would be all of the people he’s been able to meet and interact with.

“I’ve gotten to meet people from all over Long Island,” he said. “I’ve interacted with them, seen their passion, and what they want to contribute to the world.

“I won’t miss the commute, though,” he added.

Carolan also gave a preview of the central theme of the commencement address he plans on giving to his fellow classmates on graduation day.

“The message has to do with all of the things we’ll be able to accomplish as a class if we believe in ourselves,” he said. “Around college time, some people get nervous, get rejected from places, and form a low level of self-confidence. As a result, there’s a lot less dreaming going on. I want to focus on a bright future and promote that in our class, we can make it happen.”