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Pallone Recognizes Outstanding High School Students at Virtual Awards Ceremony

July 8, 2021
Press Release

Long Branch, NJ – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today honored the recipients of the Congressional Award, U.S. Service Academy nominees for class of 2024 and 2025 and the winners of the 2020 and 2021 Sixth Congressional District High School Art Competition during a virtual Congressional Awards Ceremony.

Pallone honored the recipients of the Congressional Award given in 2020 and 2021. Created by his predecessor, the late U.S. Rep. Jim Howard, the Congressional Award recognizes the initiative, achievement, and volunteer services of young people. The recipients include:

2020 and 2021 Bronze Award Recipients:

  • Sara Asdhir of Edison
  • Emily Esposito of Aberdeen
  • Joshua Finkelstein of Marlboro
  • Samuel Ringel of Marlboro
  • Annika Santhanam of Edison

2020 and 2021 Silver Award Recipients

  • Pari Agarwal of Edison
  • Sophia Arvanitis of West Long Branch
  • Varija Mehta of Edison
  • Ishani Sengupta of Edison
  • Shivam Syal of Edison
  • Shivani Trivedi of Edison

2020 Gold Award Recipients

  • Kendall Keelen of Atlantic Highlands

2021 Gold Award Recipients

  • Sanmathi Priya Abiram Lakshmi Devi of Edison
  • Nikhit Basineni of Morganville

“The Congressional Award is given to individuals whose accomplishments and dedication to their communities exemplifies the best qualities of the next generation,” Pallone said. “I’m proud to award this honor to this year’s recipients, and I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.”

The New Jersey Congressman also honored the candidates he nominated to the U.S. Service Academies. The nominees for the Class of 2024 include:

U.S. Naval Academy  

  • Paul Gannon, Jr. of Christian Brothers Academy
  • Alana Lynch of Long Branch High School
  • Stephen McLaughlin of The Citadel
  • Tyler Polon of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • Vincent Scalpati of Naval Academy Preparatory School
  • Rohit Setlur of Northwestern Prep School
  • Akhil Sharma of John P. Stevens High School
  • Jens Sorensen, Home school
  • Richard Trentalange of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • Mackenzie Wood of Red Bank Regional High School

U.S. Military Academy at West Point

  • Kacy Colletto of Edison High School
  • Christopher Garcia of Rutgers University School of Engineering
  • Austen Sanchez of Woodbridge High School
  • Daniel Schleif of Metuchen High School

U.S. Air Force Academy

  • Sophie Allen of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • Steven Fonti, Jr. of Colonia High School
  • Vincent Franzone, III of Marlboro High School
  • Christopher Garcia of Rutgers University School of Engineering
  • Stephen McLaughlin of The Citadel
  • Nathaniel Ocasio of Old Bridge High School

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

  • Steven Fonti, Jr. of Colonia High School
  • Hunter Kordzikowski of Middletown High School North
  • Jens Sorensen Homeschooled
  • Allessandra Swart of Red Bank Regional High School

The nominees for the Class of 2025 include:

U.S. Naval Academy 

  • Jude Belas of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • William Hurley of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • Andy Lan of Temple University
  • James Logan of Sayreville War Memorial High School
  • Zachary Mansfield of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • Kylie McNamara of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • Michael Murphy of Middletown High School North & Brookdale Community College
  • Bailey Schafer of Metuchen High School
  • Marc Singer of Colts Neck High School
  • Collin Sussman of Marine Academy of Science and Technology

U.S. Military Academy at West Point

  • Sanjana Basu Mallick of John P. Stevens High School
  • Hunter Batista of John P. Stevens High School
  • Nicholas D’Armetta of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • William Hurley of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • James Logan of Sayreville War Memorial High School
  • Zachary Mansfield of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • Michael Murphy of Middletown High School North & Brookdale Community College
  • Marc Singer of Colts Neck High School
  • Matthew Wu of John P. Stevens High School
  • Justin Yeung of John P. Stevens High School

U.S. Air Force Academy

  • Sanjana Basu Mallick of John P. Stevens High School
  • Ashvath Goteti of John P. Stevens High School
  • James Logan of Sayreville War Memorial High School
  • Kylie McNamara of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • Michael Murphy of Middletown High School North & Brookdale Community College
  • Arav Sharma of Metuchen High School
  • Alexandre Simoes of Sayreville War Memorial High School
  • Andres Sullivan of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

  • Jude Belas of Marine Academy of Science and Technology
  • Arthur Dozier, Homeschooled
  • Hunter Kordzikowski of New Mexico Military Institute Service Academy Preparatory Program 

“The value of military service to our nation cannot be overstated and I am honored by the commitment that these nominees to America’s service academies have shown to serving their nation,” said Pallone. “New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District is home to so many bright and qualified students, and I’m proud to honor the nominees today who showed through the application process outstanding academic and extra-curricular achievements, leadership and motivation in serving our country. I take these nominations very seriously because our nation’s service academies are some of the highest caliber institutions committed to graduating leaders of character, honor, and integrity. I wish all of the nominees the very best of luck in the future and thank them for their willingness to serve our country.”

Young artists from various schools in Middlesex and Monmouth counties participated in the Congressional Art Competition in 2020 and 2021. Local judges chose first, second and third place winners, and also awarded 15 honorable mentions for each year. This year’s first place winner, Lauren Sun, will have her artwork displayed for the next year in the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. 

2020 Winners

First Place: Sanika Godbole of John P. Stevens High School

Second Place: Jenna Gomes of John P. Stevens High School

Third Place: Mona Wu of John P. Stevens High School

Honorable Mentions:

  • Cristina Chen of John P. Stevens High School
  • Aishwarya Devarajan of Edison High School
  • Liz De La Cruz of Perth Amboy High School
  • Skarleen Dominguez of Perth Amboy High School
  • Olivia Downs of Marlboro High School
  • Lin Li of John P. Stevens High School
  • Phylicia Ma of High Technology High School
  • Ryen Miller of Trinity Hall
  • Luna Mondesi of John F. Kennedy Memorial High School
  • Samantha Oliveira of Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools - East Brunswick
  • Yazmin Perez of Perth Amboy High School
  • Emeline Placencia of Perth Amboy High School
  • Alexis Plasencia of Perth Amboy High School
  • Lauren Sun of John P. Stevens High School
  • Allison Yu of John P. Stevens High School

2021 Winners

First Place: Lauren Sun of John P. Stevens High School

Second Place: Jenica Liang of John F. Kennedy Memorial High School

Third Place: Mona Wu of John P. Stevens High School

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jeffrey Cepeda of Perth Amboy High School
  • Hanyi (Haley) Deng of High Technology High School 
  • Christine Drake of Perth Amboy High School
  • Dev Doshi of John P. Steven High School
  • Sanika Godbole of John P. Stevens High School
  • Gina Hernandez of Long Branch High School
  • Charlize Leon of Perth Amboy High School
  • Lin Li of John P. Stevens High School
  • Ashlee Norris of Red Bank Regional High School
  • Daisy Pacheco of Long Branch High School
  • Benjamin Salerno of Perth Amboy High School
  • Nathan Torres of Perth Amboy High School
  • Danielle Umbs of Red Bank Regional High School
  • Cynthia Vargas of Perth Amboy High School
  • Mareena Yu of Edison High School

“I have long believed that Congress should play a major role in encouraging the arts,” Pallone said. “This competition provides a forum to help the aspiring young artists of our area gain recognition and exposure. I’m grateful for everyone who participated and always look forward to seeing the diversity and creativity in the submissions. Young artists can gain confidence in themselves and their abilities by displaying their work and receiving feedback from knowledgeable judges.”