ELIZABETH—Benedictine Academy’s Emilie Burke, a recent Class of 2011 graduate, is headed for Princeton University next fall. Burke’s determination and achievements during her four years at the all-female Catholic high school in Elizabeth helped her earn a spot on Princeton’s freshman roster.
“Emilie is one of the most enterprising students whom I have encountered in my years of education,” Benedictine Academy Principal Kenneth Jennings commented. “She has this restless energy to accomplish all of her goals,” he added.
Burke’s passion is politics, government, public speaking and debating. And she is a natural at each. She plans to pursue politics and economics after college. When she first arrived at Benedictine Academy, Burke was determined to be part of a debating club. She started the school’s Junior State of America (JSA) chapter in her freshman year. JSA is part of the Junior Statesman Program, which for the last thirty-plus years has provided hands-on educational opportunities for young women and men who want to learn about government.
Burke faithfully and enthusiastically attended the program’s annual summer school for three years, where, as a participant, she was taught political science and public speaking. She also experienced the political world firsthand by hearing live speeches by current and former political leaders such as congressmen, governors and mayors. Burke studied at Yale and Georgetown Universities over three summers, honing her debating skills, discussing current events and government, and learning how to dialogue with others.
In addition, as president and founder of the JSA chapter at Benedictine Academy, Burke and other students from the Academy competed in JSA Conventions held around the country. Burke consistently won “Best Speaker” awards at those conventions. Burke also served as the JSA’s Middle Atlantic States Director of Communications.
While at the Academy, she “single-handedly founded the Junior Statesman of America chapter, initiated a public debate in the presidential election year, and received designation as an AP scholar,” Jennings noted.
In 2010, Burke was granted an internship with Rep. Leonard Lance, (R) 7th District, at his local office. “That internship replaced all the theory I had been learning,” Burke said. She relished the experience of “hands-on, day-to-day activities”, as she helped with general office duties in Lance’s district office.
Burke believes she is ready for Princeton academically because of the challenging course work she has taken at Benedictine Academy. “I am really grateful for my years at Benedictine Academy,” the AP Scholar commented. “The school really pushed me forward,” she noted. She also feels her “leadership skills and confidence” were significantly developed while at the Academy. “Being in a comfortable yet challenging setting gave me the confidence to move into a larger one…at BA everyone can be a leader,” Burke stated. She also noted that while at the Academy, she learned to balance her time and interests through participation in extra-curricular activities.
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