FLEMINGTON, N.J. – Elizabeth A. Caso of High Bridge, N.J., a senior in Hunterdon County Vocational School District’s (HCVSD) Biomedical Sciences Academy (BSA), has received a surge of honors, thanks to her strong academic and extracurricular performances. Early in 2020, Caso received news that she is one of more than 4,500 candidates in the 2020 U. S. Presidential Scholars Program. Since then, she has advanced as a 2020 National Merit Finalist and was named a Da Vinci Center Hall of Fame Award recipient.
Caso is in the inaugural class of HCVSD’s Biomedical Sciences Academy, which began in 2016 with 25 freshmen. The BSA now operates at full capacity with 106 students in grades 9 through 12. Although currently meeting virtually, students in the BSA typically learn in a customized classroom at North Hunterdon High School, which features a 6-foot Anatomage Table that presents a fully segmented real human 3D anatomy system.
The BSA combines college coursework and hands-on activities to prepare students for high-growth career fields in the biomedical sciences.
Caso has seized opportunities presented by HCVSD to further her biomedical studies outside of the classroom. She participated in NYU’s GSTEM, a six-week summer STEM research program, during which she completed high-level research at the Ultrasound Elasticity and Imaging Laboratory at Columbia University. She also applied for and received the Emperor Science Award, which engaged her in a six-month cancer research project on emerging developments in cancer treatment. She conducted research in molecular biology and bioinformatics through the intensive two-week Rutgers WISE Program, which resulted in her publishing DNA sequence analyses.
Such activities contributed to Caso’s selection for her three recent honors. The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program chose candidates with superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities. Caso will soon learn if she makes it to the next round as a semifinalist.
Caso’s selection as a National Merit Finalist also came as a result of her school and community involvement, as well her academic record, which includes her score on the SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). The pool of finalists includes about 15,000 students representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors. Finalists now compete for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million. This news also will come in the spring.
Finally, Caso is a finalist for the DaVinci Science Center 2020 Hall of Fame. She is one of only four students chosen for the Center’s Student Excellence Award scholarship. As a winner, she joins a list of students who have displayed a passion for science both in and out of the classroom.
“We cannot imagine a more deserving student of these prestigious recognitions,” said HCVSD Superintendent Dr. Todd Bonsall. “Ms. Caso has taken advantage of every opportunity presented to her to further explore her passions, both academic and extracurricular. She has performed high-level, original research and has given back through service, yet she also has made time to focus on other things she loves, such as music and performing arts. And, she has done all of this while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.”
Caso is the daughter of Salvatore J. Caso Jr. and Elizabeth Caso.
The Biomedical Sciences Academy (BSA) is one of three full-time, science-based academies offered by the Hunterdon County Vocational School District. The others are the Computer Science and Applied Engineering Academy (CSAEA) and the Environmental Sustainability and Engineering Academy (ESEA). The district’s largest school is Hunterdon County Polytech Career and Technical School, a shared-time high school that prepares students for a seamless transition to college and career paths. HCVSD also operates an Adult and Continuing Education school. Learn more at www.hcvsd.org.