Seton Catholic seniors National Merit winners
by Deacon tom picciano
sun contributing writer
Binghamton — There were 15,000 semi-finalists for this year’s National Merit Scholarships. Only 2,500 were left when the finalists were announced, including two from Seton Catholic Central, Christopher Madl and Paulina Maida.
The $2,500 scholarships are awarded through a committee which appraises information in a number of areas. Scores from two standardized tests, starting with the PSAT, gets the process started. Students’ academic records, subjects and grades earned, as well as extracurricular activities, are evaluated. Each student also writes an essay describing interests and goals. High school officials must prepare a letter of recommendation for those who apply for the scholarship.
“It is a great honor. It’s nice recognition for all the work we’ve put in throughout the years. It begins with that test. But I know it’s a lot more beyond that test,” Madl said.
“What they really look for is all the things we’ve done throughout the years.” he said.
Madl, a member of the National Honor Society, is also on the student council. He participates in the Science Olympiad, Mathletes and tutors classmates. Outside of school, he became an Eagle Scout at age 13 and continues to be an altar server at St. Casimir’s Parish in Endicott.
Paulina Maida has also been involved in many activities at SCC, including the National Honor Society. She is a tutor and belongs to Mathletes, Spanish Club, Drama Club and the Select Chorus. At her parish, St. Lawrence in Great Bend, Pa., she is an altar server, lector and teacher. She serves her community as an emergency medical technician.
As for the National Merit Scholarship, Maida said, “It feels like a reward. You feel like all your hard work and dedication paid off.”
The Harvard University bound Madl, plans to study bio-medical engineering.
“Research oriented stuff related to pharmaceuticals, genetics, other medical type research” he said. He’s already familiar with university, volunteering time with graduate students in a laboratory at Binghamton University.
Maida, who will attend the University of Scranton in the fall, will be in Washington, D.C. just after graduation. She will give a speech in a National Right-to-Life competition. Her presentation on euthanasia already took first place regionally and on the state level.
At Scranton, Maida will be in a pre-med program, with a major in biology and Spanish. She will be in the Jesuit leadership program, and minor in philosophy. Maida, who shadowed a doctor at Barnes-Kasson Hospital in Susquehanna, Pa., plans to become a pediatrician.
Both students have high marks for their education at Seton Catholic Central.
“I feel there’s a lot of width and breadth to the courses that Seton offers. There’s a wide variety of subjects you can choose from and also there’s different levels within each subject,” Maida said. “I’m going to miss the sense of community at Seton. A lot of the teachers give you a lot of TLC and one-on-one care,” she added.
“One thing that is great is AP exams and academic rigors, ” said Madl. “Opportunities like that are crucial to getting scholarships, to getting into the kind of colleges we got into or the programs we’ve gotten into.
“That’s definitely something beyond the nice sense of community and religious-based organization here at Seton. The academics here are first rate. Without a doubt among the best in this area,” he noted.
The religious background from SCC will go with both students as they move onto higher education. Madl said Harvard provided a pamphlet about spiritual needs with a priest pictured on the front. He will attend Mass on campus or at a nearby parish. Maida plans to continue to serve as a lector while attending the University of Scranton.
The scholars offered some advice to incoming freshman.
Madl suggested they remain “determined and consistent in their work,” and set a goal and believe that they can do it. “If you set a high standard for yourself, you’ll follow through with it and you can achieve things beyond even what you believe you could,” he said.
Maida encourages setting priorities. “If you decide schoolwork is going to be first in your life,” she said, “that’s going to get you into a good college and get you a good job. You just need to spend a lot of time and make it your number one priority and know there are no shortcuts to just studying hard.”
It may seem both of SCC’s National Merit Scholars are focused entirely on school, church and community, but that’s not the case. Both enjoy spending time with family and friends. Maida said she also enjoys reading. Madl has a love of the outdoors from his scouting trips. He also finds time for scuba diving and 35mm color film photography.