Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Holy Angels Student Travels to Malawi for Operation Smile Mission

Demarest, NJ:  Angelina Scozzafava, a senior at the Academy of the Holy Angels, recently made the long trek from Maywood to Malawi to complete a mission for Operation Smile.

As a student educator, the Maywood resident presented vital information to the families of Operation Smile patients awaiting cleft palate and cleft lip surgeries. She focused on nutrition, burn care and prevention, oral rehydration therapy, dental hygiene, and handwashing. In addition, Scozzafava distributed donated items that included toothbrushes, toothpaste, and small toys. 

AHA Operation Smile Moderator Laura Kraytem noted that receiving a mission assignment is a notable accomplishment, since these opportunities are not automatically given to everyone.

Before she was selected for a mission, Scozzafava logged three years of work that began during her freshman year at Holy Angels.

“At the first club meeting, Mrs. Kraytem played one of the Operation Smile videos. After seeing the pictures of these people in need of surgery, I knew I needed to get involved,” Scozzafava explained. 

Eventually, Scozzafava attended the International Student Leadership Conference in San Diego, California, and created a video essay to apply for a mission. While she was at the mission training program in Rome, Italy, Scozzafava learned that she would be going to Malawi this year. 

“It was a very eye-opening experience,” she said of her mission trip. “I was in one of the poorest countries in the world, but the people were so rich with kindness and gratitude. Malawi is known as being ‘the warm heart of Africa,’ and this name truly does the beautiful country justice. This experience emphasized the importance of service. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I hope is just a beginning to future missions and involvement with Operation Smile.”  

Scozzafava said she would recommend the mission experience without hesitation. 

“Although it was hard work, hours of preparation, and traveling a long distance, seeing the patients and their families’ smiles when they received the surgeries made whatever difficulty I went through all worthwhile. It is hard for me to put into words the effect this mission had on me, but it did change my perspective on life and my future.” 

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. 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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