Norwich — Kameron Kosma grew up in Plainfield watching in awe as his dad fixed anything in the house, from electrical to carpentry or some general repair.
“He’s like a big handyman,” Kameron said of his father, Brian Kosma. “Any problem, cars, electrical work, plumbing work, HVAC. He built half our house. I’ve always looked up to him. He’s a really smart guy. I’ve always wanted to be like him as a critical thinker.”
Kameron also is lovingly grateful to his father and mother, Bethany Kosma, for the gift of being an American citizen, as he and his older sister, Jonna, were adopted — Jonna from Guatemala and Kameron from South Korea. Their two younger sisters, Lily and Ivy, are biological children of their parents.
Kameron Kosma, 17, a senior at Norwich Regional Technical High School, is combining his goal to study electrical engineering with his passion to serve his country. When his name is called to accept his honors diploma June 11, a representative from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London will greet him.
Kosma is one of about 70 graduating seniors accepted into the Coast Guard Academy Scholars Program. He will study for one year at Marion Military Institute in Marion, Ala., and then start his four-year education and training at the Coast Guard Academy.
“I think they need more electrical engineers,” he said. “I went on a tour not too long ago, and they asked all the kids, who here is going to be an engineering major, and only a couple kids’ hands went up. And they said, ‘Good luck, guys.’”
Kosma will get a taste of the Coast Guard Academy in July with a two-week mini swab summer. He and his parents alike were “so excited” when he got accepted to the academy after a long two-year application process.
“A lot of people think they just wait for someone to be saved or call (for help),” Kosma said of the Coast Guard. “They do a lot more. I also like to serve, because I’m really, really proud to be a citizen here, because I was adopted in this country.”
Bethany Kosma said she always had wanted to adopt children, and when she and Brian initially had trouble starting a family, they adopted Jonna and Kameron, picking Kameron up at Logan International Airport in Boston.
Kameron said as a young boy, he felt awkward in the mostly white Plainfield schools. He then attended middle school at the diverse Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy in Windham, where younger sisters now attend the school, Lily in first grade and Ivy in sixth grade.
Kameron was undecided on a high school choice, until one day he rode along as his mom went to pick up Jonna at Norwich Tech.
“He said: ‘Is this Norwich Tech? I’m coming here,’” his mother recalled.
She said she was “blown away” when he was accepted to the Coast Guard Academy, saying he “conquered” that goal. Although he won’t be far from their Plainfield home, his mother knows family visits will be limited.
“I’m going to be one of those moms who is going to be peering in at the gate,” she said.
Brian Kosma, a former licensed industrial electrician, is maintenance supervisor for Big Y supermarkets, where he started as an electrician 17 years ago. Kameron now works at the Norwich Big Y in customer service.
“I’m very, very proud,” Brian Kosma said, “especially because it’s a decision completely of his own. He’s had a desire to be an electrical engineer for a while.”
Brian Kosma’s father, Mickey McMaster of Plainfield, is retired from the Connecticut National Guard, giving Kameron a military service connection.
“He’s a hardworking kid, has a great head on his shoulders,” Brian Kosma said of his son. “He’s more mature than his years, and he has the ability to read a room. He can tell if there’s any kind of tension, what you should do about it, how you should act.”
Kameron Kosma shares another major accomplishment with his dad. He and nearly three dozen other Norwich Tech juniors and seniors have been building a three-bay garage with a two-bedroom second-floor apartment on Jeremy Hill Road in North Stonington.
The project was delayed for nearly a year due to COVID-19 remote learning, Electrical Department head Jamie Lamitie said, but now is nearly done. Kosma’s electricity class designed and installed the electrical systems, installed a 100-amp power panel and LED lights. Carpentry students framed and erected the garage, and heating and ventilation students designed and installed the highly efficient heat pump heating system.
“It’s all done by kids between 15 and 18 years old,” carpentry teacher Ray Stawski said. “Mr. Lamitie and I are totally hands off.”
“That’s just one of the projects we did,” Kosma said.
Classmates Jaycee Trombino of North Stonington and Nicholas Wernicki of Norwich described Kosma as a dedicated, hard worker who never gets flustered when something doesn’t go just right.
“Even when it’s not busy, he will try to find something to do,” Trombino said.
Lamitie, also the Norwich Tech varsity soccer coach, got to know Kosma in the summer before his freshman year. Kosma has played varsity soccer all four years and played on an elite travel team, Doca Futebol.
Kosma also plays percussion in the Norwich Tech band and was excited to be recruited for the renowned Coast Guard Academy band. He hopes to play soccer at Marion Military Institute and try out as a “walk on” for the Coast Guard Academy soccer team.
“He is a very reliable and responsible person,” Lamitie said.