Ian Robb is going for the gold, but it may take him a few years.
Robb, 15 from Warwick, has taken on the Congressional Award challenge. The Congressional Award was established to acknowledge initiative, service, and achievement in young people. Robb has earned his silver certificate, and is working to earn his bronze medal and then eventually his gold medal. Last year, 373 youth from across 39 states were recognized at the 2017 Gold Medal Ceremony in Washington, D.C. Two of the 2017 medallists were from Rhode Island.
To earn the awards, Robb must set goals and complete a number of hours in the following areas: voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration.
Robb has been home schooled his entire life. However, he has already began taking some classes at Bristol Community College. He is in his second semester now and taking history courses, but plans on taking many more classes next semester. Robb began this endeavor about a year ago last April, when his mother suggested the award to him. Robb was already active in many aspects of this challenge, so when his mother introduced him to it he knew it would be a great fit. Before beginning this challenge, Robb selected an advisor whom he would work with throughout the experience. Robb chose Christopher LaRoux, director of the Warwick Public Library. Robb did not know LaRoux prior to the challenge, but they have since then developed a good relationship.
LaRoux said, “this is a wonderful program, and he is honored to do this with him.” LaRoux also noted that Robb is “hardworking and really bright: an all-round nice kid. I really see him going somewhere.”
Robb volunteers in the Military Lounge at T.F. Green Airport. “It’s interesting being there because you get to hear the veterans’ stories.” Being a history lover, these first-hand stories really fascinate him. To earn the silver certificate, Robb completed 60 hours of service. He must complete 340 more hours over the course of 24 months to finally reach his gold medal. Robb has been learning Japanese for about three years, and is continuing as part of his personal development. He has also incorporated public speaking into this goal. He has completed 30 hours, and will work his way to complete 170 more over the course of 24 months to reach the gold medal.
Robb is active in karate. He has been doing karate for about 8 years, and has completed the 30 hours to earn his silver certificate and will complete 170 more over the course of 24 months before earning his gold medal. In September, Robb visited New York City. It was required that he plan the entire trip on his own, down to every detail. He was there for two nights and three days with his parents. He visited the 9-11 Museum and went to the Maker Faire in Brooklyn.
The most challenging part of the trip for Robb was understanding how the subway system works, he also admitted that “he didn't know how hard it was to pick hotels until then!” Reflecting on this trip, Robb concluded that “this trip has taught me many life lessons and I have grown as a person from this experience.” He will eventually plan a four-night trip to achieve his gold medal.
After completion of the goals in the four areas, Robb filled out his Record Book and had the pages signed off by LaRoux. He had to record all he did and describe how each activity helped him; he then got each thing validated. Robb mailed all of the materials in January, and received the award in the mail a few weeks later. Through the experience of earning his silver certificate, Robb said it “has helped me become more responsible.” He has learned the importance of actually getting things done, and not putting them off. In purist of the bronze and gold medals, Robb looks forward to the satisfaction of completing all of the requirements and being able to say “I did it!”
Robb is no stranger to the Beacon readers.
He has won Pokemon tournaments across the country. Robb definitely has not put that aside; he still remains one of the top-ranked people in the United States for the Pokemon Trading Card Game.
In his time competing, Robb has earned almost $20,000 in scholarship funds. Robb traveled to Europe last year for a competition and is scheduled to travel to Brazil next month, in hopes of a victory and more scholarship money.
Robb is unsure of his plans for the future; he wants to keep his options open. If he had to choose now, he said he would be interested in studying politics at a higher education; politics is something he is passionate about.