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Latrobe grad Vasinko receives Bob Johnson Memorial Scholarship

| Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 6:45 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation has awarded this year's Bob Johnson Memorial Scholarship to Latrobe High School graduate Robert Vasinko.

Since it was created in 1992, this scholarship has been given annually to a Western Pennsylvania high school senior for their leadership and sportsmanship at the hockey rink, as well as for academic effort and community service.

The 2013 Johnson Scholarship, which is co-sponsored by the Penguins Booster Club, has found a deserving home with Vasinko. A standout hockey player at Latrobe, he helped lead the team to both Penguins Cup and state championships last season. As a defenseman, Vasinko led his team with an rating of plus-41. He won all-PIHL honors in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and lettered in each of his four years in high school.

He also was the captain of the football team in his senior season.

Vasinko, no stranger to athletic accolades, finds it even more rewarding to be recognized for his academic work.

“It's a great thing always to be recognized for academics,” he said. “Academics first, I've always said. It's something that I've learned from my parents.”

Despite his athletic prowess, Vasinko has always made time for his studies. At Latrobe, he was a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society, Student Council, the Letterman's club and the Quiz team.

He was also a student leader on a robots team in which he and his fellow students designed and created a robot that joined a local battling competition. On top of that, Vasinko also served as President of the St. Cecilia Youth Group and was a volunteer coach in the Westmoreland Hockey Association's Peewee A team.

With such an eclectic mix of achievements on his resume, Vasinko had the ability to explore almost any area of study. He credits one of his high school teachers with steering him towards his current academic love, engineering.

“Throughout high school, I slowly started to realize that I love the maths and sciences. I grew close with my high school calculus teacher, who was previously an engineer and that was really a big influence on me.”

Vasinko has followed his love of engineering to Blacksburg, Va., where he is enrolled as a freshman at Virginia Tech.

After receiving this award, Robert took a well-deserved moment to reflect on the people that help inspire him the most.

“My parents instilled all of my values in me,” he said. “They enforced hard work and helped me establish my work ethic. My grandparents too, I'm very close to them. I attribute all of my success to my parents and grandparents.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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