When it came time to consider where she should attend college, Lianna DeChiaro knew what she wanted in a school. The Huntington High School senior found it close to home at Hofstra University in Hempstead.
“I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field since tenth grade,” Ms. DeChiaro said. “It was shortly after that I found out about physician assistants. When I first began my college search, I had my mind set on looking for a school that had a physician assistant program, more specifically a direct entry program. During my search I found several schools that had either the direct entry program or a graduate program.”
Most high school seniors choose a college a fair distance from their hometown and Ms. DeChiaro expected she would follow that same pattern, but it didn’t work out that way.
Huntington senior Lianna DeChiaro.
“At first, I never would have thought I would being considering Hofstra as one of my schools, let alone being the school I chose,” the teenager said. My sister is currently a senior at Hofstra and I thought it would be weird to go to the same school. I didn’t think I’d want to go to a school that was only roughly 40 minutes away. However, as I continued to do research on both the schools and the programs, I found that Hofstra has everything I am looking for. It has the direct entry PA program, so I will automatically gain direct entry into the graduate program at Hofstra as long as I maintain a specific GPA, both cumulative and in sciences. Although Hofstra is close by I do plan to live there, allowing me to still gain the ‘college experience.’”
Ms. DeChiaro applied to eight other schools besides Hofstra. Five feature a direct entry physician assistant program, including Arcadia University, LeMoyne College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Quinnipiac University and Wagner College. Three of the teenager’s applications went to schools with health science programs, including Northeastern University, Sacred Heart University and Stony Brook University.
“After completing the 5.5 year program [at Hofstra], I plan to pursue a career as a physician assistant,” Ms. DeChiaro said. “I am unsure about which specific field, but I know I want to work in a hospital.”
The teenager’s senior year academic schedule includes Advanced Placement Calculus AB, AP Literature and Composition, AP Government and Economics, Italian V Honors, Physics and Symphony Orchestra.
“Two teachers that I admire”
“Two teachers that I admire the most are Mrs. [Deborah] Beck and Ms. [Patrice] Monks,” Ms. DeChiaro said. “I had Mrs. Beck in eleventh grade for AP Biology. Taking her class was one of the best and most beneficial choices I could make. Not only did it give me a sense of what I will be learning in college, but the class also taught me that learning about biology is fun. Whether we were performing a hands on gel electrophoresis lab or simply learning about evolution, Mrs. Beck has the capability to make the subject enjoyable. Although I knew I was interested in science earlier in high school, taking Mrs. Beck’s class just confirmed it even more.”
Ms. DeChiaro will also never forget Ms. Monks, her fourth grade teacher at Woodhull Intermediate School. “She is one of the most genuine and thoughtful people I’ve ever met,” the senior said. “Recently, Ms. Monks sent to every student in my class an envelope full of photos from fourth grade and a personal letter. Looking back at these images made me reminisce on how much fun this class was and how devoted she was to her students.”
Over the years, the teenager has been heavily involved in Huntington’s athletic and music programs. She’s played field hockey throughout high school and has been on the Blue Devil fencing team since seventh grade. She even managed to squeeze in track and field as a freshman and sophomore.
Inducted into the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, English Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society, Italian Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society, Ms. DeChiaro has also been integrally involved in both the Environmental Club and Key Club.
An athlete and musician
Ms. DeChiaro’s past four years have included many highlights, including serving as captain of both the field hockey and fencing teams, performing with the chamber and pit orchestras and being named a Distinguished Senior after compiling an academic average over 90 during every semester of high school.
It was during high school that Ms. DeChiaro became a junior volunteer at Huntington Hospital. “This volunteer work gave me the opportunity to be exposed to a hospital environment and interact with patients,” she said.
During the recent spring break Ms. DeChiaro traveled to Eastern Europe with EF Tours. The privately funded and sponsored trip included many of the senior’s classmates. The group visited Prague, Krakow, Budapest and Vienna over a week.
“Traveling is a passion of mine and being able to go overseas to four countries has enhanced my interest in learning about different cultures,” Ms. DeChiaro said.
As members of Huntington’s Class of 2018 enter their final three months of high school, Ms. DeChiaro and her fellow seniors are increasingly pondering the time they have spent in the building and all of the colorful personalities they have encountered along the way.
“As I reflect on my experience at Huntington High School, I think that it has created who I am today and who I will be in the future,” Ms. DeChiaro said. “I wouldn’t change a thing. I will always remember the teachers and friends that helped me throughout my high school career. I’m not able to thank them enough.”