Taking the Stage: Gerry Regep
“I challenge the Class of 2018 to be bold, to be brave— Kaboom!— take risks, show love, be open to new ideas, new perspectives and ways of understanding the world, be thankful, meet new people, travel, dance, sing, stress less, smile more, advocate for something that you believe in, stay inform, read, think, vote, do something worthwhile. Because if there is one thing that our education should have taught us by now, something that I learned from that miracle worker [my mother] at an early age, it’s the idea that if you have [your brain] and you follow [your heart], then anything is possible.”
So spoke Gerry Regep in the closing remarks of his commencement speech at Bradley University, where he was selected from a class of 1,100 to serve as student speaker. Before heading off to Texas take part in Teach for America this fall, Regep takes time to reflect on his relationship with political science— how this passion colored his college experiences and will continue to steer him along his career path.
Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Regep was drawn to political science from a young age. His early exposure to this field came from the history classes he took in elementary and middle school, along with watching his grandmother serve as Town Administrator in Summit, IL.
“As I look back, seeing her try to make positive change in our neighborhood is what sparked my interest in learning more about American government and politics,” he reflects. “My passion took flight ever since then.”
Regep arrived at Bradley University in the fall of 2014. As a first-generation college student and philosophy-political science double major, he had plenty of challenges to confront during his time on campus. Yet he managed to persevere, thanks to the support of his professors—who “truly care about the lives of their students” and “whose mentorship and guidance did not end when class was over,” he explains— as well as by staying intellectually active and ambitious.
“I truly wanted to learn about ideas that dealt with making a more just society— ideas on tackling societal problems, ideas on different philosophies and ways of life, and what it means to live a good life,” he says. “My sense of curiosity allowed me to seek out answers— deeper understanding of material, opportunities for practical experiences— and allowed me to enjoy learning for its own sake.”
Some of his memorable experiences in political science include a trip to West Point Military Academy, where Regep represented Bradley at a four-day Student Conference on American Affairs; and several trips to the Illinois capital of Springfield, where he lobbied elected state officials on behalf of his classmates. One such trip last year was made in support of the Monetary Award Program, which Regep and another fifth of Bradley’s student body rely upon for tuition grants.
Regep held an impressive variety of positions while at Bradley, such as Student Admissions Representative, President of the Socratic Society and Mock Trial Team Member. He has his eyes set on law school in the near future, but first plans to offer his services to the schools of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“[During] senior year, I found myself still eager to experience, travel, save money, and expose myself to some other career options,” he explains. “Teach for America was perfect. I get to spend two years helping students, saving some money, and [developing] the ability to immerse myself in a different cultural community to enhance my perspective of the world.”
Once his TFA experience concludes, Regep will explore opportunities such as teaching English abroad and serving as a fellow on Capitol Hill. He ultimately hopes to become a lawyer, which relates closely to his goals of helping others and interacting with the federal government.
“Truthfully, I have wanted to be a lawyer ever since my grandmother told me I should be one,” he admits. “I’ve always wanted to be a prosecutor who argues in the courtroom and fights for justice. I love to argue, to think critically, and most of all debate.”
Pi Sigma Alpha wishes one its latest inductees all the best in his ambitious endeavors.
All photos courtesy of Gerry Regep.