Regis 6th grade student, Michael Hren, traveled to Chicago this past weekend to do something no other Regis student had done before—compete in the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) Individual Player National Championship Tournament (IPNCT). In January, NAQT extended an invitation to Michael for one of eighty-four tournament spots based on his scores and impressive depth of knowledge demonstrated during Quiz Bowl tournaments with The Regis School of the Sacred Heart Quiz Bowl team. Michael worked hard to prepare for the IPNCT, allocating two hours each evening to study. He is no stranger to academic competitions. Just one week prior to his trip to Chicago, Michael represented Regis in competition against 100 other middle school students at the National Geographic State GeoBee in Dallas.
Michael's passion for knowledge and academic competition started at a young age with a healthy sibling rivalry. His twin sister attends Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart. "He has always been pushing himself to be the best and work harder against his twin," said Debra Cimitile-Hren, Michael's mother, "then working harder and competing with everyone else."
Only in 6th grade, Michael already understands the competition he will be up against when applying to high schools in Houston and eventually to colleges around the country. He hopes to study architecture at Yale or Stanford. "My interests are building things, helping people, and learning about the world," said Michael. "I see what's happening with the environment, and it makes me so mad—I really want to help that," he continued. His goal is to create affordable housing for the entire population one day.
"He's got significant dreams. He's thinking far, far ahead," said Debra. "The quiz bowl and the geography bee and the grades...that just kind of all goes into the 'pot' to try to get him to where he wants to go."
To participate in the National Geographic State GeoBee, Michael earned one of 100 spots based on his scores on a written exam taken by school Geography Bee winners around the state. Michael finished in the top 30, exiting the competition with the question: "Which city is further East: Portland, Maine or Manaus, Brazil?" These cities are in the same time zone and fairly close in longitude.
When asked what he was most looking forward to in Chicago, he said "The experience I'm going to get [and] meeting people who are just like me, so I can improve for next year and qualify again." Michael advanced to the single elimination round in the IPNCT, finishing 24th out of 84. He now knows exactly what he needs to study to gain the chance to compete in these tournaments again next year.
When not at school or studying, Michael participates in fencing lessons and enjoys something almost every middle school student loves—YouTube. "I spend a lot of time studying, and I have to unwind," he said. "I try to be the most normal as possible when I have free time."
"God made him, I'm lucky to raise him," said Debra. "I hope [he] does some great things for the world." Debra encourages both Michael and his sister to strive to make the world a better place. "God gave you great brains—use them. Work hard, use them, and make a difference," she reminds them.
Michael is eager for the chance to compete again next year school year in more academic competitions.