HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ – As students excitedly await word on acceptances from their preferred colleges and universities, three young women currently studying at two of our Academies already have received their exciting news! And, the district is celebrating with them, because their acceptances place them among the top high school seniors in the country.
Audrey Bors, a Biomedical Sciences Academy senior, has received a Congressional nomination to the United States Naval Academy and now awaits acceptance. Computer Science and Applied Engineering Academy seniors Alexis Colasurdo and Gillian Cascio both have been accepted to the United States Coast Guard Academy. Alexis also received a Congressional nomination to the United States Air Force Academy and awaits acceptance.
Tanya Nalesnik, HCVSD’s Director of Grant Management, Admissions & Security and Supervisor of Bartles Campus, is a retired military officer with 25 years of experience with the United States Coast Guard. She said the Congressional nomination process for this country’s military academies in New Jersey is fiercely competitive. According to Nalesnik, there are hundreds of applicants in each Congressional district seeking a handful of nominations allotted to each representative.
“Audrey and Alexis were among those successful in obtaining a nomination for their respective academies against a pool of highly qualified applicants,” said Nalesnik. “Both of them should be proud as they are now among an elite group of highly qualified applicants who not only demonstrated academic achievement, but also leadership skills, physical aptitude, and extra-curricular accomplishment. Their strength of character and unending motivation will serve as core values in guiding them through their academic and professional journeys while representing the United States of America’s next generation of leaders.”
Also, as a former college admissions officer, Nalesnik said having three students considered for the country’s top military academies not only is impressive, but speaks to the quality of the HCVSD programs’ curriculum and instruction.
Audrey hopes to serve as a Navy officer commissioned into the medical corps with a focus on trauma/emergency medicine. Going into high school, Audrey had no idea what she wanted to do. “I knew that I owed it to my teachers, community, family, and friends to take advantage of the blessings that I have and I thought of no better way to do that than to serve my country,” said Audrey.
A resident of Bethlehem, Audrey is the daughter of Jeaneen and Steven Bors, and believes BSA has “challenged me in every way that I had hoped; every day I came into class knowing that the lesson would help better prepare me for my future endeavors, and now as a senior I am able to see how the hard work and rigorous course load paid off.”
Audrey said taking the test with the 200+ other students interested in the limited spots available in the Academies was “intimidating”, but made her even more determined. She said the BSA offers not just outstanding academics and a devoted staff, but opportunities for personal growth. “I have learned the value of failures and how they are the stepping stones to success, to challenge myself to go one step further, and how to work together collaboratively on topics that I am truly passionate about. BSA has given me the opportunity to succeed and I intend to make the most of it.”
During the summer of 2020, Alexis and Gillian both participated – virtually – in the United States Coast Guard Academy’s AIM (Academy Introduction Mission) Program.
A Milford resident, Alexis is the daughter of Chris and Jennifer Colasurdo. She is interested in the Coast Guard Academy because of its small classes, new cyber systems major, military ethics, and real-world educational opportunities.
Alexis said CSAEA has taught her “how to persevere through challenges and exposed me to a diverse group of young men and women with the same mindset and passion for the field. The collegiate-level curriculum and independent projects at [HCVSD’s Academy] have prepared me for the rigor at a service academy.”
Jennifer Colasurdo agrees, “I believe Alexis’s exposure to a diverse group of hard-working individuals passionate about the field of computer science is what has prepared my daughter for college and encouraged her to challenge herself every day. I am very proud of my daughter and cannot wait to see her succeed in the military academy of her choice.”
Alexis plans to major in cyber systems and become a cyber operations or intelligence officer in the Coast Guard. An announcement about Alexis’ acceptance into the U.S. Air Force Academy is expected in March.
The daughter of Leigh Anne and Larry Cascio, Gillian lives in Kingwood and wants to attend the Coast Guard Academy to be “part of an environment where hard work, dedication, and passion are what drive everyone around me.” Gillian said more than anything, “I want to devote myself to my country and to every task I am given.”
Gillian believes CSAEA has provided opportunities to test her knowledge and to persevere when the tasks have become difficult. “I feel that the Academy’s rigorous curriculum will prepare me for an easier transition into military life at the Coast Guard Academy. The academy has shaped me into a more focused, hard-working individual, and has given me the discipline necessary to be successful in a military setting.”
“I am proud of Gillian’s determination in pursuing her goals, and equally proud that she has chosen to devote herself to service of country,” said mother Leigh Anne. Father Larry is “very happy with Gillian’s decision to attend the Coast Guard Academy. She will learn to be a leader and to be successful in the fleet as well as in life.”
Gillian’s mother believes the CSAEA has prepared her daughter for the Coast Guard Academy. “The Computer Science Academy prepared Gillian for acceptance into a military institute right from the start. Once in the program, she learned how to handle the fast pace and rigor of this caliber of class, beginning her freshman year. She quickly sharpened her time management skills through self-discipline.”
Gillian plans on studying cyber systems. “I feel the Academy has more than prepared me to become successful in this field. Along with what I have learned in class, the mindset I have developed will help me to persevere and do what it takes to accomplish great things,” she said.
“Having started my military career with less than 8% of women serving at that time, I know and understand the challenges these young women are facing, but I am confident they have been well-prepared academically, to succeed,” said Nalesnik. “Each of them has grown as leaders of character established by a set of core values in their own unique way and are ready for the next stage in their life, where they will be able to grow in a service-oriented environment dedicating themselves to serving others. On behalf of HCVSD, we wish them the best of luck and enormous success.”