NHS senior’s talent in math, science shows a promising future

Published 11:49 pm Friday, October 8, 2010

Zachary Prenkert

Zachary Prenkert


Niles Daily Star

There is something specific about the subjects of math and science that appeal to Niles High School senior Zachary Prenkert.

“There’s always a definite answer,” Prenkert said. “If you know it, you know it.”

For his part, Prenkert seems to know ‘it’ when it comes to math and sciences.

The senior, who also plays for the varsity football team but is sidelined due to a cast on his right forearm, has stocked up on related courses like chemistry, calculus, physics, advanced placement biology and anatomy.

This year the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced Prenkert as the high school’s honoree for the institution’s Rensseaer Medal.

Considered “the oldest prize of its kind in the United States,” the award comes with scholarships for recipients who attend the school and is presented to nearly 4,000 secondary schools around the world.

Prenkert said he was “kind of surprised” to hear he’d been named this year’s recipient for Niles High School.

Comfortable in the definitiveness of math and science, Prenkert is also pretty definite on his plans for the future.

He’s applying to the University of Michigan and focused on the university’s pre-med program.

“I started out … wanting to be a veterinarian,” Prenkert said. An athlete, he said he found he “didn’t have the heart” for veterinary medicine but the broken bones he received during sports introduced him to the field of orthopedic surgery.

And he’s confident about his plans.

“I don’t feel like I won’t get in,” he said. “It’s just wait and see what happens.”

Medicine runs in the family. Prenkert’s mother is a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Though he says he was “raised to be a Michigan State fan,” his allegiance to the University of Michigan came after a few visits and a look at the medical program available at the school.

“They have a really good medical school there and a hospital on campus.”

He added he’s stacked his first semester as a senior with necessary core classes.

“It’s really important getting everything in this first semester,” he said. “So second semester you can focus on being a senior.”