Mary, a student at Mount Saint Mary Academy, in Watchung, received a commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Program, according to the program. The commendation is based on scores from PSAT/NMSQT tests administered last year. Mount Saint Mary announced its list of National Merit Award winners this week.
The commendation puts her in the top five percent of the more than 1.5 million students who participated in the competition.
Mary was also recently named a member of the Mount’s Cum Laude Society.
The school also announced she has completed the requirements to receive Girl Scouting's Gold Award, the highest honor in the Scouts, the school reported.
Mary's award follows her contributions to expectant mothers at the Pregnancy Aid Center, in Raritan.
The Pregnancy Aid & Information Center is an all-volunteer non-profit which assists local expectant mothers coping with crisis pregnancies. Many of the Center’s visitors struggle financially and lack the medical, material and informational resources to provide adequate care for themselves and their babies.
“Knowing that these women weren’t getting the guidance they deserved [without the Center] saddened and frustrated me, and those feelings were what really motivated me to get my project done,” she said.
The objective of Mary's work was to provide information in an accessible way to the many visitors of the center. She constructed an information section within the facility comprised of informational pamphlets and handouts she created herself. The materials are also distributed directly to visitors. The topics range from prenatal to infant and newborn care. The materials are made available in both English and Spanish as many of the organization’s visitors speak Spanish as their primary language.
“I really felt like I was making a lasting difference in my community,” she said. “The gratitude the center’s clients showed towards the center affirmed that I was making their lives better, even in a small way.”
Mary entered Girl Scout Troop 237, in Somerville, at the Daisy level 12 years ago and has been a troop member ever since. In addition to her activities with the Girl Scouts, Mary maintains an extracurricular schedule at the Mount as a member of the academy’s symphonic instrumental ensemble and the varsity volleyball and basketball teams while serving as co-editor of the school newspaper. Academically, Ziemba excels and was recently named a National Commended Scholar and member of the Mount’s Cum Laude Society.
“The values the Mount has instilled in me were sort of a driving force for my project. From my school I’ve learned the importance of service and how I have a duty to help others, and without those lessons I might not have gotten my project done,” Ziemba explained. “The fact that my school is all-girls has also given me a desire to empower other women, and I think my project really shows that desire and how deeply my school has engrained in me my values.”
Ziemba will receive her Gold Award in a special ceremony this spring.