CHESTER — Rick Strucko, 2020 graduate of Kent Island High School, was awarded a $40,000 Amazon scholarship to attend the University of Maryland’s computer engineering program.

Strucko is the son of Richard and Inga Strucko in Chester. Strucko came home to a box one day that changed his future in a big way.

“There was no way I was going to be able to go to college without going into major debt,” Strucko said. “Every summer I taught myself something new related to computer science and over the years I have gotten really good at it and it resulted nicely by receiving the scholarship.”

Strucko was one of 100 students in the nation to receive the scholarship which also resulted in a paid internship with Amazon next summer as a software engineer in Seattle.

“I have to give thanks to my cousin Kevin Hadaway who has inspired me in many ways,” Strucko said. “He has helped me learn so much about computer science and teaching me the ropes over the years.”

“My biggest interest for a long term career is artificial intelligence,” Strucko said. “It is really fascinating to see how words on a screen can be interpreted and it is amazing to see how lines of code work and what they do.”

The Amazon scholarship is in its second year and its initiative is to expand the opportunity for students to get into computer science education debt free.

“The requirements of the scholarship were to demonstrate financial need, complete an AP computer science class and a recommendation from a math or science teacher,” Struck said. “I filled out the application in December and was surprised when I got word I was accepted in April.”

Strucko will be attending the Gemstone Honors Program —

a unique multidisciplinary four-year research program for selected undergraduate honors students of all majors — at the University of Maryland in the fall.

“I am excited to get this process going and I am very thankful to Amazon for giving me such a great opportunity.”

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