Gilbert, a Roslyn Heights resident, traveled to Washington as a ninth-grader the following year to train as a youth ambassador for the Tourette Association of America, lobbying members of Congress to support research and later going to schools across Long Island to talk about Tourette syndrome.
“That’s sort of when I realized that the capital is where change is made and if I wanted to make a change for my brother and for my country, then that’s where I’d end up,” said Gilbert, 17.
Later in 2014, when he was in 10th grade, Gilbert started The Track Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money to support Tourette research and sends volunteers to other groups’ fundraising events. He also built and coded the foundation’s website.
That was also the year Gilbert was elected president of his class, a position he still holds. He also leads four other clubs at Wheatley, including the robotics club.
Combined with his straight-A grades and high SAT scores, Gilbert’s leadership got him into Harvard University in a year when it accepted 14.5 percent, or 938, of its early applicants, according to the Harvard Gazette.
Gilbert said he credits much of his success to Wheatley, where classes have been “a good mix of challenging and interesting, and I think the clubs have been just so prevalent and involved that I’ve been able to do so many of them and take charge and rise through the ranks of them,” he said.
Gilbert’s interests in politics and computer science overlap sometimes, he said. For instance, he’s created new divisions and roles in the robotics club and, along with other members, recently asked the East Williston school board for more funding, he said.
Gilbert said he has raised about $10,000 through The Track Foundation since 2014 for the Tourette Association of America and the TicTocStop, a Tourette research organization founded by WFAN sports radio personality Craig Carton.
He first became a youth advocate for the Tourette Association to help debunk myths about his brother’s disorder, which is often inaccurately associated with random cursing, he said.
The website, http://supporttrack.org/, is currently down. Visit Tic Toc Stop.
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