September 2018
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Governor’s School Reinforces AHA Senior’s Interest in Science

Demarest, NJ: Fascinating, challenging, and incredible are just three adjectives Holy Angels senior Maya Sharma used to describe her experience at the Governor’s School in the Sciences. This prestigious residential program was held this summer at Drew University.

“The three weeks were so packed with team project meetings, labs, and classes that I lost track of time. It was so stimulating to be surrounded by and working with some of the top science and math students in the state,” Sharma shared.

Participants took three college-level courses, a lab, and conducted research in teams. Before leaving her hometown of River Vale, Sharma selected courses in human evolution, cell biology and cancer, and chemistry in living systems. She also opted to take a biology lab and participated in a team project concerning neuroscience and olfactory learning.

“Fortunately, we formed a very collaborative environment during the program. Putting all our heads together, my friends and I were able to tackle the homework each night,” Sharma said of her GSS peers.

Commenting on the biology lab, Sharma reported, “We did a number of compelling experiments throughout the weeks: a polygraph, testing our reaction rate and reflex, measuring muscular contraction, and dissecting numerous fish species. There were a lot of laughs as we dunked our heads in water to measure the effect on heart rate or when we completed the polygraph (lie detector test) grilling each other about what we did the night before.”

Together with her team, Sharma completed a research project with rats that incorporated a startle test, tracking, and electrophysiology.

“We worked regularly with handling the rats, collecting data, and analyzing our results to determine if there was any statistical significance. Throughout the process, whether it was playing with the baby rats or spending many hours perfecting our paper, my team members and I grew close as we produced a wonderful paper and presentation,” she explained.

At the conclusion of the program, the team members presented their findings to the Scholars Conference.

Sharma said GSS provided her with intellectual stimulation, a preview of college life, and the chance to form new friendships.

“On top of working together on homework and research, we had plenty of time for other bonding experiences, exploring the town of Madison together, having dance parties and movie nights, playing cards, and so much more. It was wonderful to spend this time with so many talented individuals.”

After being named AHA’s official GSS candidate in December 2017, Sharma submitted an application to the program’s selection panel. She was chosen based on her academic performance, multiple essays, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and teacher recommendations. Sharma reported being pleasantly surprised when she was accepted to the program this spring. She quickly began checking the GSS website to prepare herself for the experience.

At Holy Angels, Sharma is regularly named to the Principal’s List for maintaining a grade point average of 95 or higher. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta (the National Mathematics Honor Society), the National Science Honor Society, the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, and the Tri-M National Music Honor Society. She is involved in multiple extracurricular activities, and is a highly-regarded violinist and vocalist. Sharma’s many contributions to the greater community include organizing and playing concerts for Spectrum for Living residents.

Governor’s School programs are funded by private and corporate sponsors and are tuition-free for students.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


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