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Union Catholic's Andrew Abrantes Earns Rank of Eagle Scout

In our latest installment of Feature Friday, we shine the spotlight on Union Catholic senior Andrew Abrantes.
Abrantes, who lives in Scotch Plains, recently achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, and he's an Honor Roll Student, and a member of the National Honor Society.   
Here is our Q and A with Abrantes - 

Congrats on achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting. What does earning the rank of Eagle Scout mean to  you personally, Andrew? You must be very proud of this accomplishment.
I am extremely proud of this accomplishment; Eagle is easily my biggest achievement to date.  Eagle Scout isn’t just an award, but an opportunity for so much growth, it’s astounding.  During my project, I received a letter from a former Naval Captain telling me how much Eagle Scout has helped him throughout his life, and he inspired me to push forward in attaining the accolade.  I worked on my Eagle project for a few years, and I can already see that the Naval Captain was right.  Just off the cusp of grasping the award, I can see that my growing skills as a leader, project manager, liaison, organizer, etc. have all helped me tremendously, and I know its benefits are far from over.  
Tell me more about your Eagle Scout project, which involved designing and developing a database for the local Scotch Plains American Legion Post 209 to compile basic information pertaining to current members. What made you decide to do this as your project, and what type of feedback have you received?

I became eligible to start working on my Eagle Scout project during my freshman year here at UC, and knowing I had four potential years on my hands. I really wanted to do something big. I was approached by a mentor of mine with an idea to help American Legion Post 209 in my hometown of Scotch Plains. Surprisingly, the American Legion post only had a very loose excel spreadsheet for their members, and little knowledge about their members’ service histories. Upon this discovery, it was proposed to me to create a more detailed roster and develop a digital database to host the information online.  After two long years and almost 30 volunteers later, my team had successfully built a new database for the American Legion, with updated info on all 160 of their members from surveys, including twenty interviews with veterans ranging from WWII to Afghanistan. Post 209 loved it. They were so excited to finally have an outlet for veterans to preserve their stories and share their experiences for years to come.  

How and why did you get involved in scouting?
I got involved in scouting through the Cub Scout program at my elementary school, McGinn. Throughout elementary school, I participated in Cub Scouts, and in the 5th grade, transitioned over to the Boy Scouts.  
Scouting has been an enormous part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 
What do you love the most about scouting?     
Scouting provides an opportunity for scouts to learn niche skills and obtain leadership experiences that they couldn’t really have any other way.  From first aid, to citizenship, to leadership, a scout dabbles in so many crucial aspects of life at such a young age that they develop a strong platform to stand out in their life endeavors.  No other program that I know of can give a young person such well-rounded opportunities and experiences in one of the most crucial growth periods of their life.
What is your next big goal to achieve in scouting?  

Since I turned 18 on February 9th, I am sadly no longer a youth scout at my troop. Despite this, I don’t see my time in scouting as over, but only as a new chapter that I am just starting to write.  Currently, I aim to become a merit badge counselor and teach scouts about engineering and space exploration as they work towards their ranks.  After that, I someday hope to become the leader of a troop for my children as I guide them through their scouting endeavors just as my parents have guided me through mine.

What did it mean to you to be inducted into the National Honor Society last October, and how much of a thrill was it to be part of the ceremony by speaking about service.  
Being inducted into the National Honor Society last October was a massive honor for me, as I was recognized for my academic perseverance.  It was massive for me, but obviously the highlight was the speech I was asked to present regarding the NHS value of service.  As a Boy Scout, I’ve been focused on serving my community for years, and being able to convey the importance of serving one’s community to my fellow inductees was extremely important to me.
Can you list everything else that you are involved in at UC ( clubs etc.)? 
The Spanish & Portuguese Club
The Environmental Club
Track and Field 

Can you list all the awards/honors you have received at UC. National Honor Society? Honor Roll etc? 
Honor Roll for every quarter at UC
The National Honor Society 
The National Spanish Honor Society
Academic Excellence Award
What does it mean to you to earn those awards, and to have achieved so much academic success? 

To have earned these awards proves to me that I have the fortitude to persevere consistently academically and work efficiently no matter the task at hand.

What do you love the most about being a student at Union Catholic? 
I love the amount of opportunity UC offers.  I feel like UC can give a fair chance to every student to get involved and grow their experiences in a community. 
Why and how did you decide that UC was the place for you to be? What was it about UC that made you want to be a student here?
In searching for a school, I wanted to make sure I could learn and grow in a welcoming environment to help me transition from the public school system, which I’ve known all my life. I did two Freshman For A Day visits at UC, and both times I felt that the atmosphere was one of a tight-knit community which I could easily slide into and thrive.  

What kind of advice would you give to younger students who are considering attending UC? Why should they come to UC and what will UC give them that they won’t be able to find at other schools? 

Some advice I’d give is to learn self-control and organization as early as possible when you still have wiggle room to adapt to a new learning environment.  Sometimes it can be difficult to balance academic and personal life, but if you begin to play around with those skills early on in your high school experience, you most definitely will be a step ahead of the game for the rest of your academic and personal careers. Union Catholic has a lot of supportive teachers and staff who understand this situation and are willing to accommodate and adapt to the students. Few schools have this in their academic environments, so UC stands out.  
What specifically can you point to as the things that you’ve benefited from the most from your experience as a student at UC? 
I’ve benefited a lot from the accommodating staff at UC, who do everything they can to understand the situation of students.  So many teachers get the stresses that inevitably follow academics, and they are always willing to help out by modifying what needs to be modified in order to guarantee the most fruitful academic experience with the least possible amount of strain.  The willingness of teachers to listen and help at UC has always astonished me in the best way possible.
What are you looking forward to the most the rest of this school year? 
I’m looking forward to bringing my high school career to a strong finish as I anticipate college acceptances and enjoy what time I have left at UC.

Favorite class and teacher at UC?
Spanish with Senora Portillo.
Favorite UC memory? 

My favorite UC memory is undoubtedly the speech I gave at the National Honor Society induction ceremony.  Public speaking is so fun for me, and having a chance to inspire others on a topic I am so passionate about was a dream come true.  I had been waiting to give a speech at such a scale for a long time, and the feeling when I found out I was chosen to do so will stick with me forever; the whole experience was exhilarating. 

Favorite UC Core Value and why?

I’m a huge fan of community.  I’ve mentioned community a lot throughout this interview, and it’s because I truly think it’s important.  Whatever one puts into building and maintaining a community, they will always receive double back.  Whether it be kindness, respect, generosity, charity, etc. a person will always make a positive return on that crucial communal investment.
How about the future? What type of career would you like to pursue, and what college do you plan to attend?
I want to go into the field of aerospace engineering in a hope to revolutionize the space industry.  I’m very passionate about the idea that space is the future of humanity, and I feel it is my purpose on this earth to spearhead such an endeavor.  I am hoping to pursue a degree in aerospace at the University of Michigan, which has one of the best aerospace programs in the country. I aspire to turn humanity’s gaze up to the stars and allow us to tap the endless potential of the cosmos.  

One word to describe your UC experience?