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February 17, 2021

AHA Recognizes Sister Nonna Dunphy Scholarship Finalists, Semifinalists

The Academy of the Holy Angels is pleased to announce the 2020-2021 Sister Nonna Dunphy Scholarship finalists and semifinalists. AHA President Melinda Hanlon shared the news at the Catholic Schools Week closing assembly.

This year’s finalists include seniors Colleen Driscoll of Oradell, Julia Fernandez of Teaneck, and Sarah Onderdonk of Wyckoff; juniors Isabella Dail of Saddle River, Brooke Hess of Cedar Grove, and Grace Watson of Glen Rock; and sophomores Giselle Acosta of Fort Lee, Grace Costanza of Clifton, and Isabella Novo of River Vale.


The semifinalists are seniors Caitlin Brannigan of Hillsdale, Emma DeMarco of South Nyack (New York), Isabelle Egan of Oradell, and Brigid Miller of Pearl River (New York); juniors Madeline Risbud of Westwood and Adriana Santos of Ridgefield; and sophomores Morgan Battaglia of Upper Saddle River, Sophia Carroll of Woodcliff Lake, Caroline Dupas of Pearl River (New York), Ava Goyal of Montclair, Shivani Sahu of Paramus, and Isabel Stein of Rutherford.


“Each year, the decision has become more difficult because we are so impressed by the students involved in the process,” said President Hanlon, who is a member of the Scholarship Committee.


Prior to the assembly, AHA Principal Jean Miller noted, “Nonna Dunphy scholars are acutely aware that with ability comes a responsibility for leadership that focuses on helping others. I am grateful that they are sharing their gifts with our community and look forward to hearing about their endeavors in the future.”


Finalists and semifinalists must reflect the ideals Sister Mary Nonna Dunphy, SSND, the foundress of Holy Angels, embodied and encouraged in her students. Applicants should have the capacity to make decisions based on faith, character, and gospel values.


Nonna Dunphy Scholarship finalists receive $2,500 awards. Each fall, the administration chooses recipients from the senior, junior, and sophomore classes based on applicants’ academic achievements, leadership, character, service, and an interview conducted by the Scholarship Committee.

Nonna Dunphy Scholarships were established by the AHA Board of Directors during the 1990-91 academic year, when Holy Angels was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the school’s move from Fort Lee to Demarest. The awards are presented in honor S. Nonna, who reportedly had just $20 in her pocket on October 2, 1879, when she and S. Cyrilla Geifel signed the contract for the original AHA campus in Fort Lee.


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.