Bergen County Students Chosen for NY Youth Leadership Conference
Demarest, NJ: Katherine Day, Brooke Hess, and Ria Jani have been selected to represent the Academy of the Holy Angels at the June 2020 Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference. Natasha Dhanrajani was named this year’s alternate. All four Angels are members of the Class of 2022.
In the past, AHA has selected two representatives and an alternate, who participates in the seminar if one of the original nominees cannot attend. This month, Jennifer Trubac from the AHA Office of Academic and College Counseling announced that the Academy would be able to send three nominees to the upcoming event at Kean University.
“This year, we received a record number of applications and the selection process was very competitive,” Trubac said. Katherine Day is a versatile athlete and an active Girl Scout, who is currently working toward her Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.
Day has already completed several Girl Scout programs that help participants build leadership skills and serve others. She is a member of the National Beta Honor Society, and maintains a solid average at AHA. Before she entered the Academy, she attended Saint Joseph School in her hometown of Oradell.
Day is currently co-captain of the AHA JV Soccer Team. She has also been playing soccer for the Riverdell Black Hawks club team for six years and Oradell Recreation Soccer for six years. Day is a member of the AHA Varsity Golf Team, and participated in the 2019 Bergen County Q-Tour. She has played lacrosse for the Riverdell Black Hawks for seven years, and softball with the Riverdell Softball League for four years.
She spent two years on the track and field team at Saint Joseph School. Her hobbies include skiing, archery, and snowboarding.
Day’s service activities include volunteering for the Tricky Tray Fundraiser and Carnival at Saint Joseph parish, where she also serves as a religious education assistant.
Brooke Hess of Cedar Grove is a nationally ranked tennis player who regularly competes in United States Tennis Association tournaments. She plays for the AHA Varsity Tennis Team, and shares her love for her sport at the Borough of Englewood’s GRIT program. Established by Chennie Kim (AHA Class of 2020), GRIT allows children access to tennis lessons from experienced teen volunteers.
In 2018, Hess was named Second Singles County Champion and Third Team All-Flight. In 2019, she was named First Singles Player, First Team All-League, and First Team All-County.
Hess is regularly named to Principal’s List, an honor reserved for Angels who maintain an average of 95 or above. In the fall of her sophomore year, she was a Sister Nonna Dunphy Scholarship semi-finalist. She is currently taking Sister Kathleen Cornell’s leadership seminar at Holy Angels.
Hess serves as Sophomore Class President, and a member of the AHA DECA Club. As a member of the Middle States Planning Team, she focuses on growth mindset, a concept that proposes that people can learn anything, and benefit from their mistakes. During her freshman year, Hess was involved with the JV robotics team and AHA Student Council. She was also a homeroom representative.
Ria Jani is a Mother Caroline Scholar who is an accomplished debater and an active member of Model United Nations. This Haworth resident is currently public relations officer for the Model UN group, and has twice been accepted to the Harvard Model UN Conference.
As a freshman, she received “best speaker” honors in recognition of her work with the AHA Debate Team, and received a verbal commendation for her participation in the Bergen Technical School Model UN Conference. Jani is also a member of Angels over Africa and Junior State of America, which she serves as vice president. She shares her vocal talents with the AHA Concert Choir. Jani is currently participating in Sister Kathleen Cornell’s leadership seminar, a special offering at AHA.
She has been accepted to AHA’s 2020 Oxford Study Abroad Program, through which she will take bespoke courses in public speaking and critical thinking. This student is also an Angel Ambassador. She earned a medal for her work on the National Spanish Exam, and has been named to the Principal’s List for maintaining an excellent average.
An active volunteer, Jani has led a four-week summer debate program and a fall chess program for students in her community. She has organized various community events as a member of the Haworth Library Junior Council.
Natasha Dhanrajani is a resident of Bardonia, New York. She is a talented creative writer, who has had three of her pieces published by “Scrawl: Rockland Teens Write.
” She contributes to the AHA Voice (the Academy’s newspaper) and earned a Gold Key for the dramatic script she submitted to the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition.
She has earned the New York State Attorney General’s Triple C Award, which recognizes students who demonstrate courage, character, and commitment. She has also received the Presidential Education Excellence Award -- Gold, and the Columbia University Dean Leadership Award. Dhanrajani is frequently named to the Principal’s List for her academic success.
This fall, she attended the International Day of the Girl: Girls Speak Out Conference at the United Nations New York Headquarters. In addition to serving as an Angel Ambassador, this student’s activities include membership in Outreach, Executive Board, Diversity Council, Society of Women Engineers, and Joining Old and Young. JOY presents concerts at local residences for senior citizens.
Dhanrajani plays first stand violin for the Academy Orchestra and studies guitar outside of AHA. She also takes private dance lessons in jazz and tap. She plays intramural soccer, and has been studying theater and film acting.
She took a three-week course at the New York Film Academy, and studied creative writing, coding, and an introduction to the physical sciences through Columbia University’s high school program.
In the spring of 2020, she will attend AHA’s bespoke course in critical thinking and oral presentation, which is held at Oxford University.
Dhanrajani volunteers at her local library and for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. She speaks three languages: English, her first language; Hindi; and Spanish, for which she has received a silver medal (94th percentile) on the national exam. She is certified in CPR and first aid.