Andrew Pasco, Haddonfield resident and impending graduate of Bishop Eustace Prep, is the picture of your All-American lad: dedicated student, attentive athlete, active in the community and eager to grow as he continues his academic journey on the opposite end of the country.
Unlike many students who use the freedom of a new environment to strike out on their own, Pasco – who expects to attend California Institute of Technology in the fall – will have a little extra incentive to maintain that level of involvement and success.
In late April, Pasco was selected as a GE-Reagan Foundation Scholar, one of only 10 students in the country awarded a four-year, $10K per year scholarship, which focuses on finding the next generation of leaders. It is based on four pillars: integrity, leadership, drive and citizenship.
“I have to be the best representative of the foundation, upholding those four standards, doing the work in college and then out in the real world, which fulfills those standards,” Pasco said in a conversation with the Sun on May 8.
“The money goes toward paying for my education each year and acts as a means to reach those goals however I choose, as well as to live out the ideals of the foundation and of Ronald Reagan’s legacy.”
Among the additional feathers in Pasco’s cap are his status as a National Merit Finalist, as well as his reception of scholarships and financial assistance from places such as the Elks, National Honor Society, Louie Family Foundation, American Legion, South Jersey Interscholastic Swimming Association and New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Each of these scholarships are private funds that could be used at the university of his choice.
Pasco was a four-year letterman swimmer at Eustace and two-year co-captain of the squad. Out of school, he swims for South Jersey Aquatic Club where he serves as co-captain of its national team.
What’s more, Pasco was a four-year member of the school’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Club and held the titles of president and co-founder of his school’s Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation chapter. To top it off, the 18-year-old dynamo is a lifeguard and member of the swim team at Wedgewood Swim Club, and volunteers at the Markeim Art Center and St. Anthony’s of Padua in Camden as a tutor.
The jam-packed schedule doesn’t get him down, though. Rather, it gives him the energy to sustain.
“I throw myself into things I’m really passionate about. The things that I become involved with, are things I care about, and that passion gives me energy. I love the work, what I’m getting out of it and what I can give. That’s why I stay involved. None of these things are really a chore for me,” Pasco admitted.
Not surprising then, that most of his downtime comes in the silence of long car rides between commitments. The coronavirus pandemic has offered some involuntary opportunities to downshift and catch up on some reading.
Pasco sought out Cal Tech because of his desire to study mechanical engineering, the chance to continue swimming on a varsity level, and to find out what the West Coast can offer in terms of personal experience.
“Leaving the East Coast is a really big jump. My parents encouraged me to experience different locations and cultures. It will make me a better person to jump out of my comfort zone and get to know different kinds of people. Making connections is a crucial part of every facet of life,” he said.
Continuation of his community service is a given thanks to his Reagan scholarship, and would pair together words not often seen in tandem: robotics outreach.
“(At Eustice), we are a team that participates with FIRST, and one of the main tenets is, to get STEM education to people who don’t have access,” Pasco stated.
“That ends up being in the form of education or promoting robotics programs in whatever community needs it. We have the chance to take what we can from our knowledge and a responsibility to pass it on.”
Pasco, like many of his peers, displayed unusual maturity in speaking about how he’s dealing with the way in which coronavirus has altered the conclusion of his high-school journey.
“The first couple days when things were happening fast, it was strange, not knowing how long it would last. As we all realized we wouldn’t go back to school – and lose the prom, and the senior trip, I took that a little hard – but I recognize this is one milestone in my life,” he offered.
“There are so many bigger things ahead of us. It is important to celebrate, and I’m sure we still will but it might not be in the same setting. We have to stay optimistic and realize that things are changing.
“The better we deal with this now, the stronger we’ll come out of this whole mess.”