He will learn about the religious beliefs, political conflicts and cultural currents that have surrounded the Middle East for years as part of the 2004 New Jersey Scholars Program.
A junior at Emerson High School, Mauricio has always been a very motivated student who has excelled in his academic standings and taken full advantage of the enrichment programs offered in Union City in order to enhance his future.
"I've been going above and beyond," said Mauricio, 17, of his academic focus. "I don't let anyone distract me."
Making the grade
As a first grade student, he already showed remarkable promise, and with the cooperation and aid of his teachers he was able to attend Woodrow Wilson School. The elementary school has been acclaimed by sites such as greatschools.net as an "Arts Integrated Star School" for children with special talents or who are academically gifted. Mauricio attended Woodrow Wilson from second to eighth grades.
Upon choosing a high school he had the choice of Union Hill or Emerson, both schools that continue making academic improvements.
"I couldn't decide what high school to go to," said Mauricio. "Then I was convinced to go to Emerson, and I was getting straight A's my freshman year."
"Mauricio is a very talented student and a hard worker," said Luis Arauz, honors history teacher at Emerson. "He's basically brilliant as students go. If we had 20 more like him we'd have no problem in this world."
Mauricio has also found the time to be involved with the track team, science club, student council, and as the president of the Future Business Leaders of America. Taking part in activities that he personally likes to do keeps him well-rounded and balanced.
Immediately following his freshman year, Mauricio began to attend college-level programs during his summer periods. The summer of his freshman year, he attended a program at Yale University, where he took political courses and participated in debates. Then during the summer after his sophomore year, he attended a seven-week program at Brown University, where he was able to partake in courses such as economics and social psychology. He was also able to live out the college experience by dorming at Brown.
"It was great to be able to experience that. I want to major in Business Management in college," said Mauricio.
Mauricio has also taken several courses at the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturdays, in addition to his already rigorous course work at Emerson.
"My parents were always pushing me academically, and I've always applied myself academically," said Mauricio.
Now Mauricio will be adding "New Jersey Scholar" to his already impressive resume.
The New Jersey Scholars Program is an intensively inter-disciplinary academic summer program offered annually to all high school juniors in the state. This year, only 39 of what their website describes as "the most intelligent, outgoing, and highly motivated students" have been selected to be a part of the program. Mauricio will be one of two representatives from Hudson County. (The other is from Bayonne.)
"I think it's a wonderful program and the students both challenge themselves academically and competitively," said Mauricio.
The Scholars Program, which was first started in 1996, offers students with exceptional academic ability the chance to further enhance studies and their experiences. This summer's program at Lawrenceville will be "Jerusalem and the Middle East: Historical Crossroads, Religious Roots, Contemporary Issues," and it will run from June 27 to July 30.
"The key to world peace in the 21st century may well depend on a sophisticated understanding of this complex region," says the Scholars website. "The 2004 New Jersey Scholars Program will help build that understanding." The 39 students will spend five-weeks immersed in inter-disciplinary college-level lectures, seminars, research, and field work. They were selected on academic transcripts and a personal essay discussing their reasons on why they want to enter the program, similar to the personal essay on a college application. The students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and different walks of life, and about 75% come from public schools.
The students will live together in one dormitory, with each gender residing on separate floors. They will help each other along in the program, and will have full use of the athletics facilities at Lawrenceville School. There will be a graduation ceremony at the end of the program, which is open to all parents and families.
Assistant Principal of Academic Programs Nellie Chapman, who has been an advocate of these types of programs and Union City students like Mauricio for many years, said, "My only interest is to see students achieve their highest potential, this is the most selective program in the state of New Jersey."
Now continuing to set his sights on the road ahead, Mauricio will soon be submitting his college applications, with his dream choices being Yale or Princeton.
He has also been approached about being a student ambassador for Hudson County, sponsored by the NJ Scholars program. Mauricio would be exposing other Hudson County students to the benefits of the program.
"I'm going to explain to prospective students what the program is, so that they are aware that there is a program of this high prestige available to them," said Mauricio. "I want to encourage students to come to Emerson and other Union City schools."