WALWORTH — Christian Karabas, a Big Foot High School senior, is the recipient of a $10,000 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Student Scholarship, and is facing a choice that few students have the opportunity to make.
He is trying to decide between attending college at the University of Wisconsin or enlisting in the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
“I’m weighing my options,” he said.
Big Foot district administrator Doug Parker said Christian is an outstanding Big Foot student and athlete.
“He’s taken multiple advanced courses and he’s maintained a very rigorous schedule through high school,” Parker said. “You don’t get accepted to the Naval Academy without great attributes, including leadership.”
Karabas said he is trying to make a decision about college by May 1.
Christian, who has a GPA of 3.969 on a 4.0 scale, was nominated to the U.S. Naval Academy by then-U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, who was congressman for the area.
The 18-year-old Big Foot senior also has been accepted in the University of Wisconsin school of business.
The Herb Kohl Education Foundation announced the names of scholarship recipients earlier this month. Only 100 outstanding high school seniors receive the Kohl scholarship annually. The foundation was founded in 1990 by Herb Kohl, the former U.S. senator from Wisconsin.
Christian said he had to submit essays about arts and the humanities, community involvement and work experience. And students need to get letters of recommendation from teachers.
Christian applied for the scholarship in November and was encouraged when he was named a finalist in January.
He also applied for the Naval Academy through Ryan’s office, and his nomination was announced in October. The Navy caught his eye during the summer of his sophomore year when he attended a Navy-sponsored academic camp.
Christian said his grandfather served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
“Most of my family is not a military family, but I was intrigued,” he said.
Christian’s parents, John and Barbara Karabas, live in Fontana. He has an older brother, Evan, who is a sophomore at UW, and a sister, Gabrielle, who is a sophomore at Big Foot.
John Karabas, a special education teacher at Big Foot, said he is proud of Christian.
“Christian is a very humble and disciplined kid, but is tenacious when working toward one of his goals,” John Karabas said.
If Christian chooses the Naval Academy, he will study economics.
On the other hand, he also is interested in actuarial science, a mathematical and statistical method of assessing risks, commonly used in the insurance industry. He would study actuarial science if he attends UW.
The $10,000 Kohl Scholarship would go to tuition at UW.
There is no tuition at the Naval Academy, but there are expenses. The academy lends students money for such things as clothing, but the students are required to pay that loan back.
The only class Christian has to take his senior year is English, but he is also taking physics, advanced-placement classes in economics and calculus, and is taking an introduction to actuarial science in individualized study.
In addition to academics, Christian is on the Big Foot tennis and basketball teams.
Last year, he and his tennis partner went to state in doubles tennis. He said his goal is to get there again this year, again in doubles.
Big Foot Principal Dan Dowden said Christian is a quiet, hardworking student.
“I am so happy with the success Christian is having,” Dowden said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have Christian both in the classroom and on the tennis and basketball courts. He works hard, helps others and never draws attention to himself. He is a great kid.”
Christian credited the school and his teachers with providing him with this opportunity beyond high school.
“I would like to thank the administration and staff of Big Foot for supporting me over the past four years,” he said.
Since 2010, Christian is the ninth Big Foot High School graduate to have earned a Kohl Foundation Student Scholarship. Big Foot High School’s last recipient was Brooke Wellhausen from the class of 2017.