Senior Profile: Eli Verbrugge
April 16, 2017
photo by Zach Clingenpeel
He is 17 years old but has lived in three countries, six cities and is fluent in four different languages. Eli Verbrugge has switched schools too many times to count, but in 2014, he and his family moved to Kirkwood, and he has attended KHS ever since.
“[Switching schools] has been enjoyable,” EIi said. “I definitely look at it as a good thing because I have met so many people, but I really enjoy myself at Kirkwood. In the beginning I was nervous, but most people don’t even notice I’m not from around here.”
Eli was born in Belgium, but when he was 1 year old he moved to the U.S. for a few years and then spent nine years in Denmark. When Verbrugge moved back to the U.S after Denmark, Eli experienced a culture shock for the first couple months because he said American high schools are so different compared to his past schools. For example, Eli had never seen a cafeteria before, but luckily other KHS students were eager to help.
“Everyone here is really friendly,” Eli said. “I didn’t know what to expect at first because of the stereotype that U.S. isn’t welcome to foreigners, but since I’ve come here I have had nothing but great experiences.”
Eli said it took him a couple of months to settle in, and to meet new people he joined Mock Trial and the robotics team. Eli learned to program on the robotics team and was able to meet and work with people who shared the same passion he did.
“He is a really good programmer, so it’s going to be hard next year without him,” Patrick Geldmeier, junior, said. “You can tell he is really passionate about robotics and that he practices in his free time to get better.”
Eli had little experience in programing before he moved to Kirkwood, but he believes his work paid off. He has been a programmer for three years now and likes to join any robotics event he can in order to help fine tune his skills.
“Eli volunteers at robotics events and helps younger teams that need higher level programming to get the robot to accomplish advanced tasks,” Rich Kuntz, robotics coach, said. “He has been mentoring other programmers on our team and is a really valuable member of the team.”
Eli said one of the best things about KHS is all of the clubs and extracurricular activities offered. For the first time he was able to take an engineering class and study a topic that according to him was truly fascinating.
“[Eli] has a quietness to him and a deep understanding of the code like all programmers, but he also has a snarky sense of humour and has blended really well with our team,” Rich said. “It has been a joy to have him as long as we have.”