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October 13, 2022

Holy Angels Students Attend UN’s International Day of the Girl

The United Nations paused on October 11, 2022 to mark the Tenth Annual International Day of the Girl. This event, “Girls Speak Out,” is a call for girls’ rights that attracts participants from far and wide, including the Academy of the Holy Angels, which is dedicated to the education of young women.

Sister Beatriz Martinez-Garcia, SSND, director of the School Sisters of Notre Dame’s United Nations Non-Governmental Organization Office, arranged for the Academy’s students to attend this afternoon event in New York City. The SSNDs founded and sponsor Holy Angels, and are registered with the UN as an NGO, a connection that allows Angels to observe and participate in a variety of UN-based programs.

Chaperones included social studies teacher and Model UN moderator Jennifer Cucchici; religious studies teacher Carol Fay; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director Danielle Holmes; and AHA Director of Mission & Ministry Joan Connelly. Everyone from AHA was delighted to be able to attend in person now that COVID restrictions have been relaxed.


“There is always a special excitement to being physically present at the UN,” Mrs. Connelly said. “It is an uplifting experience to be in the presence of those who are engaged in working for peace on a daily basis. This event is worthwhile for the students on a number of different levels. However, if I had to choose one reason why this event is worthwhile, it is because it gives the participants a chance to hear from girl activists from countries around the world with experiences that are both similar and different from their own. This event supports our mission to develop leaders who recognize the dignity of all persons and promote justice and peace and the care of all of God’s creation.”

Performers and contributors shared stories about girls on nearly every continent. Contributors included representatives from Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Cote D’Ivoire, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, the United States of America, Uzbekistan, and the United Kingdom. Topics ranged from immigration, education, and leadership to violence, health, and sanitation.
This experience was particularly inspirational for Erin Pav (Class of 23), an aspiring human rights activist, who was the first Angel to sign up for the trip.

“I always wanted to go and visit the UN because I have been interested in current world events since I was a child,” Pav said. “The experience was truly incredible. It really motivated me to fight to one day speak or work at these events. The women’s work was truly inspiring and incredible. My favorite part was to hear from actual delegates and the chairman of the UN (Secretary-General António Guterres). Their words were quite inspiring and insightful. I really hope to work at the UN and fight for the rights of girls. I hope to one day speak at an event like this on what work I do.”

Pav, a resident of Westwood, is currently senior co-president of the award-winning AHA Model UN organization. She is also co-president of PowerBack, a program that empowers young people by teaching them how to recognize unhealthy relationships.

AHA students who attended this event included Alexia Adhikary and Elliott Bullis of Rutherford; Mariah Anderson of Englewood; Romina Bega of Ringwood; Cara Boyce of Old Tappan; Raphaela Cárdenas of Clifton; Mia Aiko Chang of Valley Cottage, New York; Yeon Choe of Nutley; Sidney Chung, Natalia Jefferson, Evelyna (Speridoula) Pavlatos, and Christina Stathatos of Cresskill; Audrey Collins of Harrington Park; Caroline Dupas of Pearl River, New York; Lilianna Garber and Liana Powley of Mahwah; Natalia Gonzalez of Paterson; Celine He of Fort Lee; Celine Hong of Englewood Cliffs; Annabelle Hur of Norwood; Alexis Jacob of Tappan, New York; Anna Jang of Tenafly; Charlotte Lasaga and Rafaelle Zorea of Hoboken; Lucia McClure of Wyckoff; Vanessa Medina of Nanuet, New York; Chloe Rodriguez of Leonia; Olivia Roque of Little Ferry; Kyra Sapontzis of Park Ridge; Ellie Sawyer of Weehawken; Elise Tao of Upper Saddle River; Alexandra Valdez of Oakland; Nicole Yakubov of Teaneck; and Federica Zazzali of Saddle River.

This annual celebration was established through the UN General Assembly’s 2011 adoption of Resolution 66/170, which designated a day that showcases young female leaders and explores ways to better the lives of girls everywhere. The first International Day of the Girl was held in October of 2012.

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 school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. AHA’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.