Robinson offered national role as board member

Gabriella Robinson of Piscataway and a senior at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, learned earlier this fall that she was offered one of the national roles as a Youth Advisory Board member for Hershey Heartwarming Project during the 2021-2022 school year.

Gabriella Robinson, a Mount Saint Mary Academy senior, has been appointed to the Hershey Heartwarming Project Youth Advisory Board.

Robinson, who learned about the project through email, said, “They had asked me to join their youth board because of my dedication to service and volunteering. As one of the members of this board, I get to give feedback to new ideas and participate in activities with Hershey, also try new candies! What interested me the most was Hershey’s initiative to learn from the opinion of youth/teens, this is emphasized throughout our meetings as well.”

According to congratulatory letter, Robinson’s role on the Advisory Board provides her with “the opportunity to provide input and direction, while supporting personal leadership and development. Youth Advisory Board members meet throughout the school year to help inform Hershey’s Heartwarming Project. Potential topics include event planning for a youth summit or other special youth event, providing input for promotions and marketing, weighing in on future programs and partnerships, sharing thoughts and reactions to social topics, etc.”

Robinson said, “I think it is wonderful that Hershey decided to choose me for this board, and I hope to really make a change through this advisory board!” 

Also: Members of the Class of 2023 at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung received their junior rings as the Mount community marked All Saint’s Day on the morning of Monday, Nov. 1, in Immaculate Conception Chapel. Monsignor William Benwell celebrated the Mass which carried the theme, “Banded in Mercy.” 

Members of the Class of 2023 at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung received their junior rings as the Mount community marked All Saint's Day on the morning of Monday, Nov. 1, in Immaculate Conception Chapel.

Sister Lisa D. Gambacorto, directress, said, “Your ring is a circle. It represents the never-ending possibilities of the future. The circle of your ring is timeless. It embodies the spirit of our time together. It will remind you of your days in high school, your dreams, the obstacles you overcame, your hard work, the support of your parents, teachers, and your friends and classmates. We know that there will be other rings in your life that will also hold great meaning. But, there is only this moment, to receive your Mount ring.” 

During the Mass, the Alumnae Association presented the juniors with a special gift and the juniors also received red roses from the freshmen class and Little Sisters.

Also: The Mount Saint Mary Academy community has been celebrating November as Native American Heritage Month with a wide variety of activities and presentations.

Sarah Hobbie, of Westfield, a freshman at Mount Saint Mary Academy, displays the dreamcatcher she created during a Peer Ministry Club meeting.

Amelia Benjamin, a sophomore of Maplewood, gave a presentation about the legend of the Native American dreamcatcher to members of the Peer Ministry Club on Thursday, Nov. 4. She said there are five specific aspects of dreamcatchers. Next, the students made their own dreamcatchers while listening to Native American music. They also compiled information regarding St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Native American dance, music, art, authors and literature, clothing and traditional foods in a PowerPoint that was shared with the school community. They also watched a TED Talk by Tara Houska, a Native American tribal attorney who advocates on behalf of tribal nations.

Also: John Maldonado, an English teacher at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, was recently awarded a full scholarship to attend this year’s National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention. 

John Maldonado, an English teacher at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, was recently awarded a full scholarship to attend this year’s National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention.

The Annual Convention is a four-day long professional development opportunity that brings together award-winning authors, educators, and speakers to provide attendees with creative, innovative curricular and instructional ideas to bring into their classrooms.

“I am constantly trying to find new ways to keep students engaged and active in the construction of knowledge and critical thought in the classroom, so I’m very excited to participate in the NCTE’s Annual Convention — it presents a great opportunity continue to grow professionally and provide the best instruction possible for our students,” said Maldonado.

Kean University

Kean University senior Florencia Burian plans to pursue a doctoral degree in chemistry after spending a life-changing summer in a research program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Kean University senior Florencia Burian conducted chemistry research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of four Kean students in research programs this summer.

Burian, a molecular biology major of Old Bridge, was a Chemical Bonding Fellow at MIT, conducting chemistry research at the university for nine weeks. She was selected for the first year of a program that is open to students from Hispanic-Serving Institutions, such as Kean University, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions.

Her work involved comparing different sequence alignment tools for single-cell RNA-sequencing analysis. In addition to her time at MIT, Burian also presented her findings to Rice University at the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Symposium. 

“This research has already had such an impact on my future,” she said. I hope that I can help and inspire others in the future that regardless of where you came from, and what you were and weren’t capable of in the past, you can do it.”

Burian was one of four Kean seniors who spent their summers conducting research at MIT, Princeton University and other universities. The other three — Anna Ferster, Xyler Ferraris and Neil Tellez — conducted documentary investigation and pandemic-related research. 

“Research is a key part of a Kean University education, and taking part in programs such as these allows our students to expand their learning and build their skills,” said Kean University President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. “As Kean pursues a designation as an R2 Carnegie research institution, we expect even more students to become involved in these kinds of powerful opportunities.”

Ferster, a communication/media and film major from Marlton, interned with Aspiring Scholars and Professionals at Princeton University, a selective program created to support students from underrepresented communities and backgrounds. 

She worked on a documentary investigation called The Trenton Project, editing transcripts of video and audio interviews. The documentary investigates the April 1968 shooting of Harlan Joseph, a young black college student, by Trenton police. 

Ferster said the experience broadened her perspective on career paths. 

“Before this, I only looked at strictly media production-related careers,” she said. “But now I see I can venture into more research-inclined careers as well.”

Computer science majors Ferraris, from Port Reading, and Tellez, from Linden, both participated in the Consortium of Scientists for Pandemic Preparedness (CSPP) Summer Scholars Program, which involves both MIT and Rutgers University. Ferraris’ research focused on data analysis, while Tellez’s was based on viral escape, which he defines as a virus’ ability to mutate and evade the immune system. 

Ferraris used machine learning technology and data analysis to research which drugs are effective against malaria but nontoxic towards the liver. He said the virtual internship gave him insight on research.

“The true finding was that there is much more to discover and to test and work on in the field of machine learning and how it can benefit our preparedness for pandemics to come,” he said.

Tellez said he also got invaluable experience to take to his future career. 

“This research experience will help open new doors as an undergrad looking to go into machine learning or the data science field,” he said.

Kean Senior Vice President for Research Jeffrey H. Toney, Ph.D., said all four students came away with valuable experiences.

“Each of these programs provides our students an opportunity to work with some of the very best scholars and professionals in their field,” he said. “This experience will open up many opportunities, including pursuing graduate studies at these institutions and exciting future careers.”

Middlesex College

Middlesex College won two awards in an international marketing competition, and one in a regional contest open to marketing professionals at community colleges. 

Middlesex College recently won marketing awards. (Left to right) Michelle Campbell, vice president for institutional advancement; Damian Gonzalez, Aldrick del Rosario, Alyssa Ignacio and Joselyn Quezada.

The college won two awards in the annual Hermes Creative Awards Program, administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals.  

The college’s Degrees When Due microsite, aimed at adult students who have completed some college but who have not earned a degree, won the Gold award. The Enrollment Guide, an online page that illustrates the steps to apply and enroll at the college, was awarded an honorable mention. 

Both were created by Joselyn Quezada of North Brunswick, marketing and new media manager; Aldrick del Rosario of Parsippany, web developer; and Alyssa Ignacio of Edison, social media manager. 

In addition, the viewbook, a publication that introduces the college to new students and highlights the college’s academic quality, value, the campus environment, and its excellent faculty and students, won Gold, the highest award, in the District One competition of the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. The organization consists of marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges all over the United States and Canada. The viewbook was designed by Middlesex College’s graphics administrator, Damian Gonzalez of Hillsborough.  

Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools

Six films by students of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools were chosen from among 2,500 submissions from all 50 states and more than 40 countries as official selections of the All American High School Film Festival.

The honored films included “Aqua Pura” and “Human Error” by Alexandra Mars of North Brunswick, a senior, both in the Adventure/Travel category; “Only a Fool” by Gabriel Werts, a junior of South Amboy, in the Comedy category; “A Drive through Brooklyn,” by Caitlin Bieri, a senior of Old Bridge, in the Documentary category; “Flower Power” by Marlayna O’Brien, a senior of Edison, Henry Ruiz, a 2021 graduate of New Brunswick, Jennifer Ruiz-Gonzalez, a  2021 graduate of New Brunswick, and Sammy Horan, a senior of Milltown, also in the Documentary category, and “Blinded” by Marlayna O’Brien in the Experimental category.

The students are digital film career majors taught by Louis Libitz in the School of the Arts on the MCVTS East Brunswick Campus.

The festival was held Friday, Oct. 8, through Sunday, Oct.10 at AMC Empire 25 theater in Times Square, Manhattan, and at the historic Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. More information is available at www.hsfilmfest.com/.

This is the fourth consecutive year that films by MCVTS students have been selected for this festival, the largest high school film festival in the world.

The School of the Arts of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools provides a broad-based practical foundation for young artists seeking careers in acting, dance, film, music, directing, stage management, graphic design, arts management, and related fields.

Raritan Valley Community College

Anusha Srinivas of Bridgewater, a graduate of Raritan Valley Community College, presented her Green Energy Golf Cart project at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Northeast Section 2021 Annual Conference, held Thursday, Oct. 21, through Saturday, Oct. 23, at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.

RVCC graduate Anusha Srinivas of Bridgewater presented her Green Energy Golf Cart project at the American Society for Engineering Education Northeast Section 2021 Annual Conference, held Thursday, Oct. 21, through Saturday, Oct. 23, at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.

Srinivas created the golf cart as part of her Honors Authentic Engineering Project course, taught by Professor Peter Stupak, at RVCC during the 2019-2020 academic year. She graduated from the college in spring 2020 with an Associate of Science degree in Pre-Medicine and Pre-Pharmacy. Srinivas is currently a student at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

A golfer who has a strong interest in engineering, Srinivas enrolled in RVCC’s Authentic Engineering Experience course, which offers students the opportunity to create a real product in one semester. While in the program, she made innovative design changes to a hand-pulled golf cart to generate sustainable “green electrical energy” that could be used to charge a cell-phone battery, as well as cool a beverage when a player is on the golf course. Srinivas used the rotational energy from one of the golf cart wheels to turn a DC motor that performed as an electrical generator to charge her phone. Additionally, she used a solar panel to generate electricity to operate a thermoelectric cooler that becomes cold on one side to cool the beverage and warm on the opposite side. A heat-sink and small fans were used to efficiently vent the excess heat back into the environment.

Some of the parts that Srinivas designed for her project were machined by RVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing students.

READ: The good things students are doing in Central Jersey and beyond

READ: Education news from around the region

READ: College Connection: Advice from local expert columnist 

South Amboy Middle/High School

Throughout the school year, the Middle/High School teaching staff nominate students for the Student of the Month Award. The nominations are based on character, school spirit, and academic integrity. For October, the winners were: (Left to right) Principal Dr. P.  McCabe, students: N. Moran, 6th grade; B. McNeany, 7th grade; A. Zannou, 8th grade; L. Barreto, 9th grade; J. Moreno Valencia, 10th grade; M. Moskal, 11th grade, and M. Borkowski, 12th grade.

Thomas Edison State University

The W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing and Health Professions at Thomas Edison State University honored the 27 pre-licensure nursing students from its October 2020–2021 Accelerated BSN Program with a live virtual Pinning Ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

City of Trenton Emergency Medical Services Director Grady Griffin (left) and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Nursing Programs at TESU Dr. Lia van Rijswijk oversaw a COVID-19 vaccine event at the Trenton Fire Department on Perry Street.

The ceremony heralds an entrance into the profession for program completers who are now eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) before entering the field.

“This was among the largest cohorts in the program’s history,” said Dr. Filomela Marshall, dean of the nursing school, who said a third yearly cohort was recently added for incoming nursing students to keep up with demand. “The program expansion represents our commitment to meeting the needs of the health care community and provides an opportunity for us to grow the pool of pre-licensure nursing students entering the profession,” said Marshall.

Nearly 195,000 job openings per year — with a median salary of $75,330 — are projected for the field through 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The expanding Accelerated BSN Program will help address a looming nursing shortage resulting from more seasoned RNs and baby-boomers retiring from the profession.

The 15-month program is already distinguished for its consistently high NCLEX-RN pass rates and enduring connection with the Trenton community. Staff and students in the school have collaborated with the Trenton Department of Health in delivering thousands COVID-19 vaccines since February to at-risk and homebound members of the community.

During the ceremony, Marcela Koehler of North Brunswick, received the Dr. Christine M. Rosner Clinical Excellence Award. The award honors the memory of Rosner who served as an associate dean of the school before her untimely death in 2014. Cohort members’ Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees are expected to be conferred by the university’s Board of Trustees during its December 2021 meeting.

To learn more about this and other academic programs available through the W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing and Health Professions, visit www.tesu.edu/nursing.

Union Catholic Regional High School

Emma Prati of Rahway, is a captain on the volleyball team, a member of the National Honor Society, and is an Honor Roll student.

Union Catholic Regional High School Senior Emma Prati is a leader on the volleyball court and in the community.

With several volleyball stars having graduated last spring, Prati has stepped up and emerged as an all-round player and catalyst for the Vikings this season.

Prati has averaged 10 assists per game, five service points per game, and four digs per game for the Vikings, and has been a huge reason why UC has won its last five matches to improve to 11-9 on the season.   

Praiti said: “It’s really an honor to be chosen as a captain for the volleyball team. It is such a huge responsibility and I feel very privileged that Coach Saggio and Coach Sawicki trusted me with the job”. 

Praiti always try to be encouraging and maintain a positive attitude. She’s also involved in the Service Club, Environmental Club, Operation Smile, Students for Human Dignity, and Italian Club.

Praiti has been on the Honor Roll all four years, and was also inducted into the National Honor Society and National Language Honor Society. “It is a really great feeling to be recognized for all the hard work and long hours I put into my schoolwork”.

Praiti would like to play volleyball in college. She has not decided on a college yet, She would like to major in finance or accounting so she can pursue a career as a financial analyst.

Her favorite UC Core Value is Community “because UC shows what it is like to be part of a community and how people can come together not just in tough times, but in the good times as well.”

Also: Union Catholic’s latest Faculty/Staff Spotlight series shines the spotlight on Don Frio of Cranford. Frio is UC’s Music Man. He’s the music director, a professional musician, a DJ, and is the choir and concert director.  

Union Catholic Regional High School Music Director, Don Frio.

Frio has been with UC for 18 years, and attended The University of Arizona. and received a BA in Music Composition in 1997 from William Paterson University.

“I’ve been a professional musician since 1988. Taught private piano lessons, musical director for community theater, and I taught at St. Joseph’s the Carpenter in Roselle for five years,” Frio said. “I teach band, choir, piano, strings, Music Production, and Intro to Music. I moderate the Music Club, and I provide music for the masses, and any other events in and around school.”

“I’ve been directing the band for 18 years. I love expanding the students’ musical horizons by sharing diverse styles of music with them like jazz, funk, blues, R&B, country, bluegrass, and classical,” Frio said.

“I’m most proud of the many UC musicians who went on to become Valedictorians,” Frio said. “Learning music makes you better in math, science, language, and helps you become a better critical thinker and self motivator.”

Also: Union Catholic’s Performing Arts Company will present “You Can’t Take It With You,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, on Friday, Nov. 12 and Saturday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 14, at 3 p.m. in the auditorium at Union Catholic High School.

Union Catholic's preforming arts company will present "You Can't Take It With You."

Tickets are available at www.showtix4u.com/event-details/58388 or at the door. 

UC PAC’s Fall Production of “You Can’t Take It With You” features the following UC students: Erin Bonner, Brianna Cabrera, Kevin Caffrey, Gabriel Chacon, Adrianna Chelak, Nicole Ciuba, Sabina Colangelo, Christina DeLucca, Joshua Etienne, Rory Harrigan, Jane Howlett, Aniya Fleming, Isabelle Li, Grace Ollen, Ava Pickering, Reina Smith, Brian Touma, Justice Tyler, Katharine Walto and Caitlin Wong.

Union County College

The U.S. Department of Education has named Union County College as one of the recipients of the Title V Individual Development Grant. The award is $2.9 million over the next five years and is aimed to strengthen and expand educational opportunities for Hispanic students and students from low-income backgrounds.

With the funding from the grant, Union College will implement Project ExCEL (Experiential Center for Education and Leadership) to improve the retention, academic success, transfer and career readiness of Hispanic students and students from low-income backgrounds who are enrolled in the Education, Business, and Graphic Design programs. ExCEL will provide students with the opportunity to engage in experiential learning opportunities to gain work-based skills through hands on collaborative experiences using industry-specific technology. ExCEL will provide a comprehensive student development program to include academic, career, and transfer advisement, a program-specific College Success course, peer tutoring, online resources and career and leadership development activities.

In addition, the project will establish a Teaching Excellence Network (TEN) to enhance faculty and staff professional development. TEN will include workshops that are related to incorporating experiential learning, the use of industry-specific technological tools, innovative and inclusive pedagogy, the use of authentic assessment and other best practices in improving Hispanic student success.

“Union County College is thankful to be a recipient of this grant. The opportunities that will be provided to our students in the education, business, and graphic design programs will help us meet our mission to transform our community by providing more experienced graduates into the local community,” said Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

Westfield Public Schools

With a score of 94.2, the Westfield High School (WHS) Marching Band placed second out of 38 competing high school bands at the New Jersey Marching Band Directors Association (NJMBDA) State Championship. The championship round was held at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) on Sunday, Oct. 31. The WHS Marching Blue Devils also finished second in Class AAAA, under the direction of band directors Christopher Vitale and Trevor Sindorf.

Student and School news appears on Saturdays. Email: cnmetro@mycentraljersey.com

Carolyn Sampson is Executive Office Assistant for the Courier News, The Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com, and handles the weekly Student News page. 

Source: Einnews

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