United Way Scholar Athlete Nominees Honored: 2013 Top Scholar Athlete To Be Chosen On March 22

The United Way Scholar Athletes Nominees for 2013. Credits: Alley Shubert
Mary Emilius of the United Way of Northern New Jersey. Credits: Alley Shubert
Nicole Bell, Sussex County Technical School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way
Matt Benvenuto, Lenape Valley Regional High School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way
Rachel Colvin, Vernon Township High School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way
Alyse DePaola, Kittatinny Regional High School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way
Sonia Geba, Pope John XXIII Regional High School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way
Luke Guigliano, Sparta High School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way
Luke Malvey, Newton High School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way
Tim Osborn, High Point Regional High School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way
Emily Stukenborg, Wallkill Valley Regional High School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way
Kristen Swerzenski, Jefferson Township High School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way
Andre Tan, Hopatcong High School Credits: Photo courtesy of the United Way

NEWTON, NJ  - United Way Scholar Athletes, their families, and local news organizations in Sussex County gathered together on Jan. 19 for the 2013 United Way Scholar Athlete Nominee Press Conference at Sussex County Community College.

United Way of Northern New Jersey introduced the nominees for their annual Scholar Athlete program, which recognized 11 “outstanding Sussex and Morris county high school students who excel in athletics, academics and community service.”

The nominees, and some of their accomplishments, are as follows:

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·      Nicole Bell - Sussex County Technical School, ranked third out of 128 with a GPA of 4.21

·      Matt Benvenuto - Lenape Valley Regional High School with a GPA of 3.67

·      Rachel Colvin - Vernon Township High School, ranked third out 346

·      Alyse DePaola - Kittatinny Regional High School, ranked fourth of 171 with a GPA of 4.3

·      Sonia Geba - Pope John XXIII Regional High School, ranked first out of 219 with a GPA of 4.75

·      Luke Giugliano - Sparta High School, ranked sixth out of 290 with a GPA of 4.33

·      Luke Malvey - Newton High School, ranked sixth out of 195 with a GPA of 4.1936

·      Tim Osborn - High Point Regional High School, ranked ninth out of 210 with a GPA of 4.402

·      Emily Stukenborg - Wallkill Valley Regional High School, ranked 10 out of 189 with a GPA of 3.858

·      Kristen Swerzenski - Jefferson Township High School, ranked eighth out of 281 with a GPA of 4.03

·      Andre Tan - Hopatcong High School, ranked sixth out of 180 with a GPA of 4.68

Since its start in 1985, United Way partners with local businesses, organizations and individuals who sponsor a senior from each area high school.

The program “funds various violence prevention programs in area schools and has supported a middle school Anti-bullying Summit each fall, which involves more than 1,300 Sussex County students. The full-day retreat encompasses cyber-bullying and interpersonal violence prevention techniques. United Way supports the summit as part of a focus on providing every child the opportunity to reach his or her full potential in a safe and nurturing school environment.”

The 2013 United Way Scholar Athlete Committee is as follows:

John Matthews, Chairman Hinkley Auto

Mary Emilius, United Way of Northern New Jersey

Becky Carlson, Center for Prevention & Counseling

Chris Foster, Ronetco Supermarkets

Cynthia Heismeyer, Selective Insurance

Cathy Kut, Realtor, United Way Local Operating Board Member

Glenn Lewis, Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice

Sarah Roskowsky, Sussex Bank

Suzanne Swank, United Way Local Operating Board Member

Barbara Wortmann, Sussex County Community College


The program was funded by John Matthews 28 years ago, and serves as an annual event.

Emilius and Swank read a short biography of each individual nominated. As they were called, each student stood in front of the press, and their families.

All nominees have excelled in the three areas of athletics, academics and community service.

The nominees have all won awards for various athletic programs which include: cross country, track and field, golf, ice hockey, field hockey, swimming, robotics, tennis, basketball, soccer, wrestling, football, lacrosse, and volleyball.

Many of the students have been involved in several school clubs, and excel in academic skills such as: High Honor Roll, Advanced Placement Courses, Foreign Language National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Math National Honor Society, Jazz Band, Honors Choir and Chorus, Spanish Honor Society, Teen Arts Festival, Mock Trial Team, Freshman in Transition, Political Association, DECA, and National Art Honor Society.

On top of a hefty amount of school, each nominee has also participated in programs and organizations outside of school.

The Alternative Press had the opportunity to speak to a number of the students, and members of their families, at the event.

Bell is a member of the SADD club, Student Council, SkillsUSA, and has been class president for three years. In addition, he also volunteeed at the Chilton Memorial Hospital for four years, helped with a local food drive, and the JDRF Walk. She won second place in the New Jersey English Teachers Association’s poetry contest with her poem, “Runner and the Poet.” Bell broke her school’s varsity cross country course record freshman year, and achieved First All League her freshman, sophomore and junior years while leading her team as captain all four years.

“I would love to get into med school,” said Bell, who has applied to Drexel for Biological Sciences, and Drew University for Molecular Biology, “I want a background in biology for the future.”

Bell’s father Andrew Bell said of each of the students, “I’m proud of all of them.”

In reference to the students’ many achievements, and accolades, he added, “I just felt like I took a breath of fresh air.”

Bell’s godmother, Pearl Ontalan, also attended the event.

“She’s [Bell] such a high achiever,” Ontalan. “She tells me she wants to be a doctor someday. This [the nomination] is such an honor.”

Benvenuto who was not present at the time due to a wrestling tournament, has attended two Mission Group Work Camps with his church, participated in Habitat for Humanity, Food Bank of New Jersey, Lenape’s Make-a-Difference Walkathon, St. Jude’s Walkathon, MS Walk, and Relay for Life. He is a three-sport participant with nine varsity letters in wrestling, football and track and field.

Colvin earned her first varsity letters freshman year in gold and ice hockey. Colvin serves as an assistant ice hockey coach for the Vernon Youth Ice Hockey Program, runs clinics at Skylands Ice World in Stockholm, and fundraises for the school’s honor societies and ice hockey team. She has also received a nomination and Congressional Appointment to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point and Adelphi University also recruited her to play Division II field hockey.

DePaola is a three-sport varsity letter athlete competing in basketball, track and soccer. She is a three-year member of Peer Leadership, a participant for Kittatinny’s Day for Developmentally Challenged Adults, a counselor at a week-long summer camp, which teaches basketball skills to girls in third through eighth grades.

“I plan on majoring in athletic training” said DePaola who has so far been accepted to Duquesne University, Montclair, and others.

“We are very proud,” said DePaola’s parents, Anthony and Carla, “We can take no credit for her accomplishments, she is just outstanding.”

Geba has participated in the first robotics team at her school for three years, and has an athletic achievement in tennis, which she served as captain this year. She folk dances with the Iskra Ukranian Dance Ensemble, performs at various public engagements in New Jersey, and New York, which includes annual performances in New York City since the third grade. 

Geba has applied to 11 well-known colleges so far such as Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Columbia and Brown.

“I am not sure on a major yet,” said Geba, “Possibly economics or managing consultant.”

“They are all amazing,” said Geba’s mother, Pilar, speaking of each nominee. “They’re good kids.”

Giugliano has earned eight varsity track letters during his high school career in cross country, indoor track and spring track. He has successfully auditioned for the senior jazz band, honors wind ensemble, and honors choir, while being selected for the pit band at four different school musicals. He also plays jazz for local seniors, and “Taps” at Sparta veterans’ events. He has been accepted into the Northern New Jersey Regional concert band, as well as arranging and performing his own music, and has sung a full requiem at Carnegie Hall. 

“I want to work for the department of defense,” said Giugliano of his future goal.

He has looked into Princeton and Harvard, where he would like to be on the running team there, while also studying engineering.

“We are extremely proud of him and also grateful that he has been able to take his talent of music and share it with senior citizens in his community,” said Giugliano’s parents Chris and Cathy.

Malvey has a four-year tenure on Newton’s varsity swim team. He shares his love of music by volunteering at area nursing homes during the holidays. He has also volunteered with food distribution at a local food pantry, and earned a spot to perform with the Newton Chorus at Carnegie Hall. 

He has applied to University of Delaware and Northeastern and plans on majoring in chemical engineering.

“I am thinking about solar energy,” said Malvey of his future.

Osborn is his school’s first four-year varsity letter winner in lacrosse, and a two-year letter winner in football. He volunteers with Heroes and Cool Kids, a program that offers mentoring for local youth in the areas of nutrition, bullying, drugs and alcohol. He also volunteers at youth football camps and his church’s vacation bible school program. 

Osborn plans on majoring in physics and astronomy where he says he would like to, “Go into research and work as a physicist.”

Stukenborg has been the starting varsity goalie for the Ranger’s field hockey team since freshman year is currently serving as the team’s captain and she also participates in track and field. She lifeguards and assists with the Lake Stockholm Swim Team, and helps coach swimmers from ages three to 18. 

Stukenborg’s goal is to attend the United States Naval Academy, and study engineering. She says she is “Not 100 percent sure,” on what she would like to do with her major in the future.

Stukenborg’s parents both spoke about their daughter. Lou Stukenborg said, “She [Stukenborg] surprises us more and more every time. She’s only 18. What’s going on for the rest of her life?”

Dana Stukenborg, her mother, said, “She’s a parent’s dream.”

Swerzenski has earned four varsity letters in basketball and three in soccer. She is a dedicated Girl Scout, has taken part in various community service activities such as the Pretty in Pink Classic, Cancer Bites, Pet Adoption Days is also a leader in the Peer Development Program. She has applied to nine colleges including Rutgers, Rochester, Northeastern, and Drexel. She “plans on majoring in bio,” and would “possibly like to do research” in the future.

Swerzenski’s mother, Lisa Swerzenski, said of the United Way’s program. “It’s a wonderful program.”

Tan participates as a varsity runner on the cross country team, and succeeded in running more than 500 miles. He volunteers regularly at the Hopatcong Animal Pound and the Merry Heart Nursing Home. He has applied to Rutgers, NYU, Princeton, Columbia, Yale and Harvard for chemistry. 

Tan says that with his degree he would, “Like to be a professor at a University and do my own research.”

The United Way banquet will be held on March 22 and the nominees will be presented with various awards and scholarships. One student will be awarded the top scholarship prize as the 2013 United Way Scholar Athlete.


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