It was tough to wait, but it was worth it for Cassidy Casabona. The Huntington High School senior exercised patience while waiting to hear whether the University of Pennsylvania would accept her enrollment application, but when the Ivy League school sent word that it wanted to welcome her into its ranks, the teenager enjoyed a well-earned celebration.
“When the decision for UPenn came out, I had no idea what to expect,” Ms. Casabona said. “I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I was on the waitlist. I had mixed emotions about the decision because I was both excited and anxious about the prolonged waiting process. Once I received the email that I got off the waitlist, I celebrated right away.”
The senior credits her academic success to “taking diligent notes, studying thoroughly before exams and attending extra help when needed.” Named a Distinguished Senior earlier this spring, Ms. Casabona has been on the high school’s high honor roll since her freshman year.
“One of the main reasons I chose UPenn was the Wharton School of Business,” Ms. Casabona said. “It is arguably the best business school in the country, so I thought it would be the perfect place for me to continue my education because of the rigorous environment. Another major factor for me was their alum network. After speaking with alumni from UPenn, I witnessed how helpful everyone was. The Penn community is very welcoming, so I immediately felt at home.”
The teenager said her family members have served as her “personal cheerleaders” and the support has been central to her achievements.
“I plan on studying finance at Wharton,” Ms. Casabona said. “I chose this as my major because I love how many opportunities I can have once I graduate from college. Finance is such a versatile field, so I will have the flexibility to pursue many different careers. I am not really sure what specific job I want to have in the future, but I definitely know that I will want to work with people. I am also working on getting my real estate license right now, so I might want to become a realtor along with another career.”
Ms. Casabona said Huntington has “100 percent” prepared her for the challenge of college. “There was the perfect balance of rigor and fun,” she said. “I am so appreciative of all of the teachers at this school. They really know how to push you, but they are always there to support you if you are ever struggling. One unique thing about Huntington is the availability of classes. There are so many options, ranging from business classes to all the different sciences and then our strong arts and music program. I think this played a key part in helping me get ready for college, because I was able to explore subjects that I both like and dislike. I never felt more ready for college. Although I don’t want to leave my family here at Huntington just yet, I am excited for a new change of scenery and pace. I am up for the challenge and can’t wait to make new friends and connections.”
The teenager is already sketching out plans for life on Penn’s Philadelphia campus. “I have always loved working with senior citizens in our community,” Ms. Casabona said. “I would hula dance for residents at assisted living homes from a young age and the experience was like no other. They are always so appreciative and you can tell how much they enjoy interacting with the younger generation. More recently, I have been able to play the piano for a few senior citizens, which inspired me to want to join Penn MINHUET. This is a community service group that performs music for people at nursing homes and hospitals. Music is a significant part of my life, so I would love to continue it in this way.”
Ms. Casabona said she plans to join many other clubs, too, “but I hope to explore my options more once I am there. I am also really looking forward to studying abroad during my time at Penn. I have always wanted to study in France because I love the country, and there is no better location to improve my French-speaking skills than in France itself.”
While some cruise through their senior year of high school, Ms. Casabona called this her “most hectic year yet.”
“In August, I started with volleyball,” the senior said. “After not being able to play my junior year because the season was in the spring, it was amazing to come back to the sport. Volleyball is such a fun game and I love playing with my friends and being a part of a team. One of my favorite clubs is student government. This year, I was the president of G.O. and the treasurer of the Class of 2022. Since my freshman year, I have been involved in student government and I am so thankful for this experience. High school is not the same without the school spirit, so it was really special to help organize school spirit events and work with my peers from all different grades.”
Ms. Casabona said she is “so thankful” for the relationships she developed with Class of 2022 faculty advisors Patricia Avelli and Donna Nugent. “They are so caring and are such hard workers who are truly dedicated to their students, so they are inspiring,” the teenager said. “I was also the president of Grandfriends this year and had a fun time working with the senior citizens at Sunrise Senior Living. I will never forget the Tuesday evening rehearsals with the chamber orchestra. I always had a fun time playing with my peers and just spending time with them.”
The senior was also a member of AWOD (A World of Difference) and Key Club and she served as a Natural Helper, assisting classmates through difficult periods and personal and family challenges.
A member of the National Honor Society, Science Honor Society, English Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society, Ms. Casabona is also the president of the Math Honor Society and the vice president of the French Honor Society.
Ms. Casabona has enjoyed many out of town travels. “I have been to Boston quite a few times this year because I was originally going to attend college there,” she said. “In the past, I have been to Dubai, Paris and London. I have some fun memories visiting Las Vegas, Colorado and California. One of my favorite places to visit is the Philippines. I have a lot of family there, so I always enjoy going back to the Philippines to spend time with them. This country is so beautiful because of all of the different islands. My family and I plan on going to the Philippines for Christmas this year, so I am really looking forward to that trip.”
There’s little question that Ms. Casabona loves her hometown and community. “When I hear the name Huntington, I think of Huntington Village and our high school,” she said. “I grew up in the village and I always remember watching the Homecoming parade travel through Main Street as a young kid. These parades are such a core memory for me because I was always so excited to be a part of them once I grew older. Now that I am a soon-to-be Huntington alum, I really cherish that Homecoming weekend. I love the sense of community that is created, especially on bonfire night. The people are what makes Huntington such a special place, too. I have some of my closest friends from this school and they have made my high school experience even more enjoyable. Everyone is so supportive and will always cheer you on.”
To say Ms. Casabona is held in high esteem by teachers and classmates is an understatement. She has performed at the K-Factor talent show, with the chamber orchestra and as a member of an orchestra quartet. She’s won awards in National History Day competitions. She can boast a perfect academic average.
“Huntington was the perfect place for me to grow and thrive as a student,” Ms. Casabona said. “I couldn’t have imagined attending any other high school. This year especially, I was able to form stronger friendships and spend time creating unforgettable memories. Huntington is like one big family, so I will always feel like I have a home here and be welcomed with open arms.”