SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Monika Wlodarski became the first girl from Union Catholic in recent history to attend the American Legion Auxiliary Jersey Girls State, which was held earlier this summer at Georgian Court University in Lakewood.

Wlodarski, a rising senior at Union Catholic, was chosen for the weeklong camp after being interviewed by a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, and for her strong academic achievements, leadership, patriotism, community involvement, and extracurricular activities.

“Girls State is a camp that entails learning how a state government works,’’ said Wlodarski, who lives in Cranford. “The attendees perform their own campaigns to run for government positions. Attendance requires an interview and application process, so it was great to be interacting with intelligent young women during my time there. When I heard about Girls State, I talked to Mrs. Jakubik (a school counselor at UC who helped Wlodarski during the process) and reached out to my American Legion Auxiliary Officer to interview me and consider me as a candidate.’’

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Wlodarski was ecstatic to be chosen.

“It was an honor to be chosen because I understood the standards met by the auxiliary officers,’’ said Wlodarski. “I had an eagerness to meet other girls from around the state and a passion to learn how our leaders run the state.’’

What were some of the things Wlodarski and the other delegates did?

“We got split up into groups and created our own cities that encompassed certain local issues that needed to be solved,’’ said Wlodarski. “Two cities made a county, and four counties made our state. There were government positions on both the local and state levels.’’

Wlodarski, a Student Ambassador at UC, and a member of the cross-country and track and field teams, the National Honor Society, and the National Spanish Honor Society,
learned a lot from her experience.

“I took away a sense of understanding of what our leaders must go through to solve all different types of problems simultaneously while maintaining peace within the civilians,’’ said Wlodarski. “I gained more respect for people who speak what they believe in, and I learned to always stick with my own beliefs. It was a truly exceptional experience and I learned a great deal. Now that I attended, I can advocate it to the future junior girls and Jersey Girls State delegates. It is a great experience and I recommend all junior girls to apply.’’