2019 Annual Fund Appeal
Dear Friend of the Academy,
Walking through the Academy has always had a way of making me feel safe, confident, loved, strong, and proud—even 20 years later. This nurturing atmosphere empowered me—and so many others—to work hard, to live compassionately, to believe in myself, and to be a leader.
I graduated from the Academy in 1997 and I now serve as Vice Chair of its first Board of Trustees. Founded in 1860, under the vision of Mother Xavier and the mission of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, the Academy of Saint Elizabeth is the oldest all-girls Catholic high school in New Jersey.
After graduating from college and then law school, I came back full circle and moved to Convent Station, where I live with my husband, who also experienced a strong, faith-based, single gender Catholic education at Seton Hall Prep. We are proud parents of two children who attend Saint Vincent Martyr School in Madison. These days, I enjoy juggling what has become a meaningful and impactful legal career, while, at the same time, raising a young family and being the kind of mom—and role model for my children—that I always wanted to be.
So much of what I loved about the Academy remains the same today: its rich history; its stunning architecture and design (both inside and out); its welcoming and close-knit student body; its small class sizes; its dedicated and passionate staff; and its deep-rooted traditions (including Mother-Daughter Tea, the Senior Fashion Show, and, my personal favorite, the Travel Abroad program). For me, these traditions fostered a sense of collaboration, inclusiveness and sisterhood, which set the foundation for lifelong friendships.
The Academy has also undergone tremendous change over the past two decades in order to meet the diverse needs of its student body. There are now 15 Honors Programs and 11 Advanced Placement courses in English, Math, Science, Social Studies and World Languages. Electives now include Coding, Criminal Justice, Business Marketing, Computer Programming and Web Design. There are 10 varsity sports, and over 24 clubs and organizations offered to students, not to mention a new self-defense seminar. Over $5M was awarded in Financial Aid and Merit Scholarships in 2018, alone. The bi-annual Career Day and Founders Day have quickly become a favored tradition, where students learn about different career paths and professions by hearing from and engaging directly with Academy alumnae and members of the community. In addition to honors and AP classes, the Academy now offers college level courses for high achieving juniors and seniors through the College of Saint Elizabeth's “College Now” Program, where students earn high school credit while at the same time earning up to 14 transferable college credits.
In today’s highly competitive climate, our students have never been more prepared—academically, personally and spiritually. As the current academic year comes to a close, and as we prepare to celebrate the Academy’s 160th year, I ask that you please join me in investing in the Academy’s future by generously supporting its Annual Fund. The Academy could not be what it is today without the support of its alumnae, parents and friends. Together, we can preserve our rich history, continue empowering today’s generation of young, ambitious women and sustain this beloved institution for generations to come.
Make an investment in our SEAsters today—every gift matters.
With profound gratitude,
Mariel Martinez Gesualdo
Class of 1997