Ava Goyal was leading her middle school STEM team into a national competition when she realized how the sciences yield positive solutions to global issues.
Today, this aspiring clinical neuropsychologist is the Academy of the Holy Angels' candidate for the New Jersey Governor's School of Engineering & Technology. Goyal, a junior from Montclair, received her nomination prior to the holiday break.
She is now applying to the multi-week immersion program that will be held at Rutgers University this summer.
Goyal is an innovative problem solver and critical thinker. She views Governor's School as an opportunity to address problems with a creative, open mindset.
"I hope to have many opportunities to brainstorm scientific ways to address issues that are prevalent in our society," she said.
"In the future, I can envision myself participating in challenging courses and pursuing a career in the sciences with joy. This course will certainly equip me with the skills and experience needed to embark on my journey toward a career in the sciences."
Goyal and her middle school peers presented their work at the National Catholic Educational Association's STREAM Conference a few years ago.
"Through researching and brainstorming solutions to issues in underdeveloped countries, I found myself becoming more open to reaching outside the boundaries of what I thought was possible," she shared.
"Being able to think critically about a problem and use science to address it was an experience that exposed me to the possibilities of using science to create change in the world."
At Holy Angels, she has participated in pre-college studies of psychology and medicine.
"The psychology course pushed me not only to understand the material but also to acquire the ability to recognize and examine it in the real world," she said.
"Although this was the most difficult aspect of psychology, it was also my favorite. Like my experience with research and STEM in middle school, investigating and thinking deeper about facts captivated me."
Goyal has already completed several notable pre-college programs, including the Summer@Brown social entrepreneurship course and a psychology class offered by Barnard College's STEMinists in Training Institute.
She also participated in "Medicine as a Career Choice: Thinking Like a Doctor," a summer immersion program at Columbia University.
This Angel earned AHA's Mother Caroline Scholarship and is regularly named to the Principal's List for her excellent grade point average.
In 2021, she participated in the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Conference.
Goyal is dedicated to her studies of the Italian language and culture. As a freshman, she received the Coccia Award for her achievements in this area.
The following year, she was inducted into the National Italian Honor Society. She has also earned a silver medal for her work on the National Italian Exam. She is active with the AHA Student Council, where she is serving her second term as vice president of the Class of 2023.
She is a member of the executive board of the Academy's Operation Smile organization and served as a creative planner for this group's Hermano Mayor program to help Peruvian children with cleft lip/palate develop speech skills.
She is also active with Equality Now, which focuses on women's issues around the world, and was a member of AHA's Art Club and Photo Club.
Goyal pursues piano lessons and dance lessons in tap, jazz, and ballet outside of school. She has also studied mixed media art at a private studio.
She is a marketing manager at Knitting for Life, a nonprofit organization whose founders include classmate Rachel Mina, AHA's candidate for Governor's School in the Sciences.
Goyal's volunteer work includes writing letters to promote voting in the 2020 presidential election. She is also an experienced altar server.
Goyal was a counselor-in-training at Early Adventures Camp, a program offered by the YMCA of Montclair, where she developed a reputation for being diligent, approachable, and reliable. She is also a staff member at a neighborhood café.