By Aidan Sheedy, Staff Editor
You may recognize her playing varsity soccer, golf, or cross-country ski. You may remember her from student government and student council meetings. You may even have seen her competing with the mathletes or editing the next New Paltz High School yearbook. No matter where she is or what she’s doing, she’s loving every second of it.
Senior Aracely Watson was born in Portland, Oregon, and moved to New Paltz when she was six years old. Spending every year of grades K-12 in the New Paltz Central School District, Aracely says, “I’ve enjoyed my high school experience a lot. I never took a class because I had to. Every class I took, I took because I wanted to. It’s because I genuinely love to learn every single day.”
Growing up, Aracely’s greatest impact came from her mom. “My mom pushes me to my very limits and beyond,” she says. “She always reminds me that you’ll go places and think that you’re the best when you’re not. I’ve learned that that’s okay. She taught me how to be humble and accept failure.”
In school, Aracely did anything and everything to keep her mind growing. She has been involved in 3 sports and 4 clubs in her high school career. The list of positions she has held includes varsity soccer captain, varsity golf captain, senior editor for the high school yearbook, and member of student government and student council. The accomplishment she is most proud of she says is something you can’t get through an extracurricular activity. “I am a National Hispanic Scholar and an AP Scholar with distinction,” she says with pride.
These awards were very hard to achieve for any student and are very prestigious honors to receive. To be a National Hispanic Scholar, a student must score in the top 2.5% of all Hispanic or Latino students taking the PSAT. In addition, to be granted the title of an AP Scholar, a student must score at least a 3.5 on all AP exams with a minimum of 5 or more exams taken. “I’m very proud of these,” she says, “I worked extremely hard for them too.”
Outside of the classroom, Aracely is a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient, the highest-ranking Girl Scout Award you can achieve. “I’ve been doing Girl Scouts for since second grade,” she says, “I’ve completed three major service projects: one was 30 hours, another was 50 hours, and my Gold Award project was over 80 hours of community service.”
To reach her coveted award, Aracely worked independently while also collaborating with St. Joseph’s Church and Family of New Paltz on a 3-year project that provided a surplus of hygiene products to local food pantries. “I really enjoy making a difference in the community,” she says, “I got to hear feedback from people who actually visited the food pantries and needed those kinds of products. That was the most gratifying experience I’ve ever had.”
Aracely Watson will be attending Williams College in the fall for pre-med and looking forward to being in medical school for pediatric surgery in the future. She has repeatedly said, “I’m so excited about college!”
Aracely says she grew up on campus because both of her parents attended Williams and would take her to the school multiple times a year. “My parents never pressured me toward Williams,” she explains, “I am just so lucky to have the opportunity to fall in love with it myself.”
Aracely’s moment of realization of her passions and career aspirations in the medical field came at an early age. “When I was 8, I had to get my appendix removed. I was terrified,” she says, “But one of the residents, Dr. Kate, is someone I will never forget.” The thing that stood out about her was that “she was so strong as a human being. She was always in a room with multiple male doctors and she always knew what she was talking about, always running the show. And at that moment, I thought to myself that is what I want to do.”
As unfortunate as the past year and a half has been on the Class of 2021, Aracely hopes that “people will think of me as kind, compassionate, or someone they can always count on to be there for them. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks of you, it only matters how you think about yourself.”
Featured Photo: Provided by Aracely Watson