by Keith Beebe
MAPLE PARK—Theo Mirkut, a Maple Park resident and junior at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, was recently selected by the National Rifle Association (NRA) as one of 45 students in the country who will partake in its National Youth Education Summit (YES) in Washington, D.C. in late June.
The trip is solely for outstanding high school sophomores and juniors. And while Mirkut is indeed an outstanding student, he also happens to be an experienced marksman, which probably didn’t hurt his cause much when it came to the NRA selecting participants for the seven-day event in the nation’s capitol.
Mirkut has been involved in shooting sports since he was in the seventh grade, beginning with small-bore Olympic rifle shooting and eventually graduating to both trap and pistol shooting. He currently holds a Bar 3 Sharpshooter qualification for small-bore rifle shooting, and a Marksman qualification in trap shooting. He also recently received certification to be an NRA apprentice rifle instructor.
“One of the things that the NRA looks for in the application are more well-rounded individuals. Part of the application was to write an essay on the Second Amendment, (and) part of the grand scholarship following the program is to conduct an educational program that teaches younger kids about firearm safety,” Mikrut said. “I can’t exactly speak on how my experiences have related directly to my selection to partake in the summit, (but) I can say, however, that my involvement in shooting sports, as well as shooting sports education, (has) contributed to what I believe was an extremely strong, well-rounded application.
Mirkut learned about the summit through his father’s involvement in the NRA, and said that IMSA stresses to its students that college isn’t just an option. Because the colleges Theo is interested in attending are rather expensive, he’s been consciously looking for any and all scholarship opportunities.
“The original e-mail about the summit was sent to my father, who forwarded it to me,” Mirkut said. “I was intrigued about the potential for scholarship money, as well as the experiences that the summit could offer me, which is why I chose to apply.”
Mirkut learned of his acceptance into the YES in April. Students who participate in the summit will each give a speech to NRA representatives, form groups to debate assigned topics, and take a tour of both Washington, D.C., and the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va.
“This summit is a huge opportunity for me,” Mirkut said. “I am excited about my acceptance, but more importantly about the experiences that I will be provided with that would not be possible normally. How many high school students get to visit Quantico on a typical vacation?”
Mirkut also knows that the summit will be as much about hard work as it will be about sightseeing.
“Overall, I think that the debates, speeches and events that have been planned out for the week are more than I ever could have bargained for,” he said. “I am proud to say that I am one of the 45 students from across the nation that will be attending the summit.”
The NRA Youth Education Summit will take place June 20-26.