It’s been a busy – and very exciting – time of the year for Lia Bergin. The Pioneer High School junior has been practicing for Nationals as a member of the school’s successful Ethics Bowl team and also is preparing for the SAT review, among many other things.
But being busy and being committed to what’s important to her is how Bergin is wired. And that wiring can be traced back to family – so let’s start there.
Bergin’s success in whatever she does is not surprising when you consider her family background. Her mother, Ingrid Bergin, is a research scientist who works for the University of Michigan. Her dad, Ted Bergin, is an astronomer who also works at U-M. Her younger sister, Elena, 10, is a fifth grader at Burns Park Elementary.
Having parents who work at the university obviously creates an academic atmosphere inside the home. Lia’s GPA is 3.93 and school has always been very important to her.
“My biggest role models are definitely my parents,” she says. “Although this is probably a common answer for most kids, I don’t think that I would be doing the things that I am doing today if they weren’t there to support me. Both my parents are the smartest people I know and they’ve helped me through so much. Whatever happens in my future, if it makes my parents proud, then I know that it will have been worth it.”
Lia has been checking off the “proud boxes” ever since she walked into Pioneer High School. And she’s been true to her wiring – keeping busy and involved.
“I did choir for five years but had to drop it this year due to other commitments,” she says. “Music is a huge comfort in my life and I joined theatre because of this as well.”
Theatre and Ethics Bowl are near the top of the list of those “other commitments.”
Theatre is something Bergin is very passionate about and when she’s passionate about something, she’s all in.
She was in the cast of PTG’s 2017 spring show “Wizard of Oz” during her freshman year but has mostly worked behind the curtain with the popular and acclaimed Pioneer Theatre Guild. She was on the crew for “In the Heights” and “Willy Wonka.”
“My favorite show growing up was ‘Glee,’ so it was great to find an environment that takes musical theatre as seriously as PTG does,” she says. “PTG is so inclusive and broad and we produce work that many people tell me is at or close to the level of professional theatre. Music is something I see as a necessity for me to survive, and right now theatre is my main outlet to express this.”
Another one of those “commitments” is the Pioneer Ethics Bowl team, which recently won the 2019 Michigan High School Ethics Bowl state championship and is now preparing for Nationals at North Carolina State on April 5.
“Winning the state title was amazing, and I am so grateful to my teammates and our coaches for the opportunity,” she said. “To prepare for the Ethics Bowl National competition we are sticking to our normal schedule of three to four meetings a week. We’re looking at what we did or didn’t do well in our previous competition, and improving on these to get ready for North Carolina.
“We’re also meeting religiously with our ethics coaches (two philosophy graduate students from U-M) to try and expand our knowledge of ethical and philosophical theories for the competition.”
Another passion Bergin has discovered since walking into high school is the school newspaper, The Optimist. She calls joining the paper the “best decision in my high school career.”
“I took journalism on a whim my freshman year,” she says. “It was my first hour so it was the first class I ever took at Pioneer. I didn’t know that class would have such an impact on me, but it made journalism into one of my biggest passions.”
Bergin says she views journalism as “one of the most meaningful fields anyone could enter.”
“It gives representation to the voiceless, it expands or broadens someone’s perspective on events happening outside their communities, it spreads the truth and gives relevant information to the public,” she says. “Journalism is something that I love more than anything else, and I do hope to someday join that field, or at least do something that I find to be as impactful.”
Bergin was an opinion editor last year and then became a co-Editor-in-Chief for her junior year. Her duties as Editor-in-Chief consist of writing and editing articles, deciding which stories go to print or online, and layout.
“I also attended the MIPA (Michigan Interscholastic Press Association) Journalism camp two years in a row, and won a ‘Sparty’ Best in Class award my first year and an award for my opinion writing in my second,” she said.
Her goals for next year include keeping her GPA up above her high standards, applying to colleges early and buying a car.
“I’m going to try and enjoy the final moments I have with my friends and family before the next chapter of my life begins,” she says. “Every time I think about going to college, it’s like a constant battle in my mind switching from eager anticipation to anxiety and worries. Overall, I’m excited about moving on to bigger and better things.”
Her dream schools are both close to home – which makes sense with her family wiring. U-M and the James Madison Residential College at Michigan State University are among the short list.
“I’m interested in pursuing something related to journalism or possibly human rights law,” she says. “The skills that I’ve learned in ethics bowl of creating a discussion, looking at both sides, and presenting your point of view will help me in either of these fields. Ultimately, I just want to do something that I know helps others and improves society.”