Yale-Seton Book Awards honor ‘outstanding’ local high school students

The Yale Club of New Haven honored 43 high school seniors from the Greater New Haven area during its annual Yale-Seton Book Award celebration, held Oct. 16.
Yale-Seton Book Award ceremony attendees at Davenport College.

(Photo by Allie Barton)

The Yale Club of New Haven honored 43 high school seniors from the Greater New Haven area during its annual Yale-Seton Book Award celebration, held Oct. 16 at Davenport College.

The students were selected by their schools in recognition of “outstanding personal character and intellectual promise.”

Each Yale Book Award winner received two books, chosen by the student — one as a keepsake and one to present to their school library. The books are funded by an endowment established by the late Fenmore R. Seton ’38 and Phyllis Z. Seton.

During the award ceremony, the students and their families were welcomed by Anjelica Gonzalez, Davenport’s head of college, and Yale’s First Lady Marta Moret ’84 M.P.H., president of Urban Policy Strategies and longtime champion of the Yale-Seton awards. Speaking to the group, Moret also discussed her own early life in the South Bronx and the importance of books and literacy.

As a first-generation college student raised by young parents from Puerto Rico, Moret said the Yale-Seton Book Awards have always been important to her. At an early age, she said, she knew what it was like to feel different, to recognize that being asked “Where are you from?” often meant something hurtful.

In books it did not matter where I was from,” she said. “I could be a sleuth with Nancy Drew. Or one of the sisters in ‘Little Women.’ Or a fighter in Spain with Ernest Hemingway.

It was books that pointed the way to my life in public health as a professor and an activist on behalf of children and the underserved,” she said. “Books inspire, frustrate, infuriate and always propel the mind and spirit as nothing can.”

Also speaking to the group were three Yale College students from the New Haven area — seniors Alex Guzhnay and Siddharth “Sid” Jain, and sophomore David Gaetano — who discussed their Yale experiences from a local perspective and answered questions.

Afterward, the student honorees and their families participated in a campus tour followed by lunch in Davenport College.

The 2023 Yale-Seton Book Award winners and their schools are Sheila Northrup (Academy of Our Lady of Mercy/Lauralton Hall); Aarav Patel (Amity Regional High School); Paul Palmer (Ansonia High School); Margaret Lam (Branford High School); Oleksandra Nikanova (Cheshire Academy); Ella Paul (Cheshire High School); Diya Patel (Coginchaug Regional High School); Paige Steffen (Daniel Hand High School); Nicholas Asphall (Derby High School); Riley Flatley (East Hampton High School); Melania Korenovsky (East Haven High School); Dashiel Geda (Engineering & Science University Interdistrict Magnet High School); Kiarina Williams (F. T. Maloney High School); Molly Peterson (Guilford High School); Ava Harriman (Haddam-Killingworth High School); Yue Zhuo (Hamden Hall Country Day School); Lance Mendoza (Hamden High School); Jordan McDaniel Wynkoop (High School in the Community); Elaine Isei-Bonsu (Hill Regional Career High School); Zachary Haywood (Hopkins School); Mila Volpe (James T. Hillhouse High School); Natalie Morrell (Jonathan Law High School); Jahnavi Bulusu (Joseph A. Foran High School); Mert Ozturkoglu (Lyman Hall High School); Kristin Kostka (Mark T. Sheehan High School); Izabella Agasino (Mercy High School); Jeremiah Lawrence (Metropolitan Business Academy); Lauren Latimer (Middletown High School); Leah Scoppa (Morgan School); Alynna Karpiej (Nathan Hale-Ray High School); Antonio Bianco (New Haven Academy); Christiana Carusone (North Branford High School); Sonia Temfack (North Haven High School); Jason Dong (Notre Dame High School); Valeria Ruiz-Acosta (Orville H. Platt High School); Corinne Woszczyna (Portland High School); Quinn Michels (Sacred Heart Academy); Jillian Sullivan (Seymour High School); John F. Quevedo (Shelton High School); Ethan Reynolds (Sound School); Iris Chen (West Haven High School); Kurt Boone (Wilbur L. Cross High School); and Kyle Levesque (Xavier High School).

The event was made possible through the efforts of Yale Club of New Haven administrator Theresa Mester and a group of Yale Club of New Haven volunteers, including Elaine Piraino-Holevoet ’75, chair; Timothy Bertaccini ’77; Christina Coffin ’74; Erin McCarthy King ’98, ’09 Ph.D.; and Vincent Pitts ’69.

The Yale Alumni Association provided financial support for the event and Yale’s Office of New Haven Affairs and the Yale Office of Undergraduate Admissions provided financial support for the lunch.

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