Stanley H. Kaplan may not be a household name, but throughout his career, the Brooklyn-born tutor and founder of what is today a global educational services provider bearing his name helped thousands of students achieve their academic and career goals. To honor his legacy and help make the college dream more reachable for students, Kaplan Test Prep recently sponsored an essay contest “Stanley’s Story, Your Story,” in which high school students were asked who inspired them most. Over 3,000 students from around the country participated. The top three winners were selected by a vote on Kaplan’s Facebook page at Below are the winners and excerpts from their stories.
  • Derrian Lewis, of Bible Grove, Illinois, the first place winner and recipient of a $3,000 scholarship, wrote about how being disabled should never inhibit someone from trying to make the best out of their life:“As I was flipping through the television channels one day, I came upon a news story about an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Ted Rummel. He practices in St. Louis, Missouri, but what is unique about this man? He is a paraplegic surgeon who continues to practice from his wheelchair…As I watched this story, I felt so inspired because I myself have a physical disability that requires the use of a wheelchair. Throughout my high school career, I have had to make a plan for my future and have decided to pursue a career in the medical field. For a few years now, I have really been interested in becoming a surgeon, but have had so many people tell me, ‘you cannot be a surgeon, you're in a wheelchair.’… Dr. Rummel has shown me that I CAN be a surgeon and a good one too… Dr. Ted Rummel has truly inspired me to follow my dream and become a surgeon!”
  • Kayla Neville, of Commack, New York, won second place and a $1,000 scholarship for her essay on a science teacher who made the subject material come alive:“The person who inspires me the most is my science research teacher, Mr. Richard Kurtz…In this class, I am not taught by memorizing mundane facts, rather, I am given the opportunity to actively explore the world and discover new information. Every day, Mr. Kurtz finds the passion for science inside the student and fuels it with scholarly research articles, experiments, and new ideas…Whenever I have a new idea, no matter how ridiculous, Mr. Kurtz encourages me to act on it and when I get frustrated with my project he offers new ways to look at the situation... Mr. Kurtz doesn't just plant the seed for a great idea, but he waters and nourishes it and watches the tree grow.”
  • Christina Robertson, of Sutter, California, placed third and received a Kaplan Test Prep College Prep Advantage course, which will provide her with unlimited preparation for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT, for her essay on how a hardened horse instructor taught her how to always get back on life’s saddle:“Bernie Schwann was a stubborn, tough old lady. She knew one thing: horses…The first time I was bucked off a horse she yelled from the barn, ‘You better not be crying! Get back on that horse!’ So I did. My last memory of Bernie was at her funeral. I sat in a crowd of misty-eyed teenage girls dressed in belt buckles and boots who had also been strengthened through Bernie's teaching. We all felt the urge to crumble beneath the weight of sadness but we didn't dare. Her familiar voice echoed in each of our minds: ‘Stop crying and get back on that horse.’ So we did.”

“We extend our congratulations to the winners and our thanks to all those who participated by submitting their stories, as well as those that voted on our Facebook page. We received over 3,000 submissions from students around the country, and were inspired ourselves by what they had to say. Today’s college applicants will help shape the future, and we hope they not only continue to draw inspiration from others, but also become the inspiration,” said Jieun Choe, executive director of college admissions and K-12 programs, Kaplan Test Prep.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep ( is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO)

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