Teen of the Week one of two ‘one-of-a-kinds’ at school
MAYFIELD, Ky. — Roberto Tapia fights to be one of a kind.
The Mayfield High School senior is doing a fine job at it.
Tapia’s 4.0 grade-point average ranks first in his class. He’s been in seven or more clubs, an officer in most, each of his four high school years. The 17-year-old works 30 hours a week in two part-time jobs: filling orders at McDonald’s and at CVS pharmacy in Mayfield.
And he qualified for the Governor’s Scholar program, getting a taste of the college life last summer at Centre College in Danville.
So why does such an outstanding student not easily stand out?
Because his identical twin brother, Reyno Tapia Jr., is a lot like him and not just in appearance. The two jostle for the No. 1 academic ranking at Mayfield High each semester. Both give ample time to the 4-H Club and service projects, and they tend to take their teachers by storm with their outgoing, ultra-positive attitudes.
Now after Reyno was Teen of the Week on Jan. 25, they are also both Teens of the Week.
Roberto, son of Reyno and Carolina Tapia, is the Murray State University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MSU Teen of the Week selected from nominees submitted by high school guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois. In May, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners, earning a $5,000 scholarship to Murray State. Teen of the Week is part of the Sun’s Newspapers in Education program.
Accomplishing so much alongside an ambitious twin has its advantages and disadvantages, Roberto said.
The two have had to coordinate which scholarships they apply for to avoid confusion and quell concerns about canceling each other out since they are so similar.
Roberto applied twice for this award after Reyno won it since he worried he would be mistaken as already chosen.
His second application came with a memo: “My brother and I have competed against one another in almost all events since we were born. This sibling rivalry has grown exponentially since the mark of our senior year.”
The rivalry helps both, pushing them to one-up each other.
“Pushing each other is a weird way of saying it. We have been,” Roberto said. “We definitely don’t to try to help one another. ... It’s a form of checking yourself.”
Their bond was also a way to excel as the sons of Mexican immigrants suddenly put in a small Southern community.
“My brother and I came to Mayfield about seven years ago. We were surprisingly shy, kind of wallflowers in a manner,” Roberto said.
“We kept to ourselves practically. So when we got to high school we said we have to join clubs because that’s the way you get to talk to other people, socialize and to compete.”
Both have made their own mark. Chemistry teacher Mary Seay said she rarely sees the kind of drive she finds in Roberto at his age.
Counselor Lynn Henderson said staff and students are consistently amazed at what the Tapias take upon themselves to accomplish.
Roberto said Seay inspires him to work in a scientific field, possibly as a pharmacist where he can use his Spanish speaking skills to overcome language barriers in a health care setting.
He plans to attend the University of Kentucky in the fall, and yes, Reyno will be there too.
Roberto will no doubt continue to excel next year with his brother along side him, but definitely not living in his dorm.
“Separate dorms definitely,” Roberto said.
Contact Adam Shull, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.