SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- In Union Catholic's latest installment of Feature Friday, the spotlight shined on senior Allyson Almeida.

Almeida, who lives in Union, is an Honor Roll student, a member of the National Honor Society, and recently she served as a student leader for the Cultural Diversity Celebration that the school hosted during an SDSN (Schedule Dedicated to Student Needs).   

Here is our Q and A with Almeida, who aspires to one day become an astronaut 

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As of one the student leaders for the last SDSN, what made you decide you wanted to help lead an activity, and how did it feel to be such a big part of such a great event?

Once I knew the topic was going to be cultural diversity, there was no doubt about assisting if I had the opportunity to. It is very exciting to be able to teach and learn things about topics that I also find very important in our everyday lives, now more than ever before. Being able to be part of such a big event made me feel very grateful. Not only because I was able to help but that I attend a school that presents these opportunities to students and allows them to help.

What was the planning like for this day? How often did you and the other student leaders meet, and what was the experience of being such a big part of the planning like?

Planning for this day went very smoothly! My fellow peers and staff always do a great job when it comes to these sorts of events. During preparation, we helped each other through emails, presentations, and meetings, all learning about these super interesting ghost stories together! In my opinion it was very fun, I love being able to learn such fun topics with other people who are also curious about the same topic.

What are your thoughts on the way the whole day went? What were your biggest takeaways from the whole day as far as the different activities that were offered, and the student turnout and involvement?

I thought this day was a great success! Especially in the environment we are now with COVID-19, I think it is very important to have these class meetings. I was able to see and interact with students on my screen that I have not been able to talk to since school was in person. In addition, the student turnout was great too! Part of me was a little nervous not many kids would show up, but we had great groups both times with everyone interacting in some type of way. Some students just made surprised faces in their screens after hearing certain facts and other were sharing their own scary stories! It was so great. 

What did you enjoy the most about the Cultural Diversity Celebration, what are your feelings about how successful the day was, and what do you feel you and the other UC students were able to learn from the day?  

What I enjoyed most about the day was seeing everyone’s faces while we were listening to these stories and events together. It was so important to me that everyone had a good time and enjoyed what they learned and that is exactly what I saw in the students’ faces. If you came to our Cultural Diversity Celebration, you left with a new piece of information about culture and/or diversity. Every activity offered was so interesting, I wish I was able to attend all of them myself, and it means so much to myself and the other students that we were allowed to help create this day, really making it about the students. 

What can you say about the school offering a day that celebrated all the different cultures, giving the students a voice to express themselves about all their backgrounds?

I love that Union Catholic is openly celebrating different cultures, giving everyone a voice. I think this will only allow us students to create an even better UC community, showing respect for one another by educating one another. It is important that we learn about these things in fun ways that allow us to remember this sort of information for life, I know I won’t forget after this celebration. 

You are such a well-rounded student at UC. Can you list everything else you are involved in at UC? Sports, clubs, etc.? 

I have participated in Varsity Cheerleading, National Honor Society, and Student Council. I have volunteered to judge a STEM fair with the engineering team I was a part of, as well as be a part of the STEM section for incoming freshman. 

Can you list all the awards/honors you have received at UC? Honor Roll, academic awards etc. or anything else? 

  • First Honor Roll multiple times
  • A Medallion for each school year
  • Certificate of Honor for each school year
  • Biology Exam Certificate 
  • A Certificate of Award for several classes

Can you explain how the balance between academics, and extracurricular activities has helped you become a better student, and how important it is to be involved in different things?

Being involved in different things allows me to see different aspects of the world. It is important to take advantage of these opportunities with the time we have while we are young. Learning things in places outside the classroom only allows us to be more proficient in the classroom. 

What do you love the most about being a student at Union Catholic?

My favorite thing about being a student at Union Catholic is the emphasis placed on being a community. Union Catholic always does their best to bring students together in some way. Every week I attended school I could look forward to some activity with my peers during school. 

Why and how did you decide that UC was the place for you to be? What was it about UC that made you want to be a student here?

Having such a sense of community was really important to me when attending high school. After doing freshman for a day, I was pretty much sold on going to UC. I absolutely loved the environment, the students, the staff, but more importantly, I loved how my future looked at UC. I am so grateful today that I made the decision to attend UC.   

What kind of advice would you give to younger students who are considering attending UC? Why should they come to UC and what will UC give them that they won’t be able to find at other schools?

To younger students considering attending UC, it will be one of the best decisions you will make for your future! You will not find the staff at Union Catholic anywhere else. Everything is great from the accommodations and understanding teachers present to the fact that Sister Percylee wishes us good morning every morning. 

What specifically can you point to as the things that you’ve benefited from the most from your experience as a student at UC?

One thing that I have benefited from the most at my experience at UC is learning so much about my religion. In so many of the activities at UC, even in our assignments, we are showing our faith in some way. This has allowed me to go into the real world and spread my beliefs. 

How about the future, Allyson? What schools are you looking at right now to continue your academic career?

Right now, I am looking at Georgia Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, Penn State, Syracuse University, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, The Ohio State University, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech. I have been accepted by The Ohio State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Rensselaer and Polytechnic have offered leadership and stem scholarships.

What would you like to major in? What type of career would you like to pursue?

I am applying to study Aeronautical engineering. Through the journey of my career, I ultimately hope to end up as an astronaut one day. 

What is something about yourself that most people don’t know? Maybe a hidden talent or hobby?

I play the drums and have been playing the drums for about ten years now. 

Favorite thing to do in your spare time? 

Exercise and meditate 

Favorite class and teacher at UC?

Honors Engineering with Ms. Scutieri 

Favorite UC moment or moments?

The freshman dances! However, I have made some of my most memorable moments with my friends and teachers in the classroom. 

Favorite UC Event:

The Junior and Senior Retreat back in February of 2020 

Favorite UC Core Value and why?

Community-If we are in an environment where we feel safe and accepted, we can do anything we put our minds to and help each other do it, too. 

Life Motto?

“Everything happens for a reason.”

One word to describe your UC experience?

Extraordinary 

Share one tip for members of the Class of 2024?

If you every worry, Union Catholic has your back!