By Jim Lambert
When Sister Donna Jo Repetti, OSF, a school counselor at Union Catholic, found out there was a student at the school interested in attending West Point, she reached out to an old high school friend.
“I made a phone call to my old friend Father Gabe (Gabriel B. Costa, Ph.D.),’’ said Sister Donna Jo. “We went to school together at Hoboken High School, and I knew Father Gabe, who is a priest in the Newark Archdiocese, was a professor at West Point.’’
So Father Gabe, a professor in mathematical sciences at West Point, and Sister Donna Jo arranged a visit for any Union Catholic students who were seriously considering attending West Point.
The visit occurred last week when UC senior Monika Wlodarski, juniors Jacob Cunha and Jaren Mateo accompanied Sister Donna Jo on the trip.
With Father Gabriel as their tour guide, the UC students got to experience what a day in the life of a West Point student is like. The day included a tour of the campus, an information session in the Admission Office, and they sat in on presentations by electrical engineering students.
“Father Gabe couldn’t have been more gracious,’’ said Sister Donna Jo. “It was more than anything that I could ever have anticipated. I would say it was a very holistic place, and it was a great experience for our students. They gained the knowledge and clarity regarding what they would embark upon if they attended West Point. I’ve very grateful to Father Gabe for making the whole day possible.’’
Wlodarski, who has already applied to West Point, said it was great experience.
“We had the pleasure of seeing what the average day in the life of a cadet is like,’’ said Wlodarski, who lives in Cranford and aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon in the army. “What stuck with me the most was how invested all the teachers were in the future of the cadets. What appeals most to me is all the different opportunities that the school gives its students, which is unmatched by any other school. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to visit again. I went to West Point last year for Cadet For A Day, and I always love the chance to visit the campus. It was a great experience.’’
Mateo was fascinated by the size of the campus.
“We got to see what the math program is all about since he (Father Gabriel) is a math professor , which was very interesting,’’ said Mateo, who lives in North Plainfield and is interested in engineering. “And walking through the hallways and seeing the size of the classrooms, how many classes there are was interesting. What I learned the most was the size. I thought it would be smaller than it was. And you feel so excited when you are there and I felt very grateful for the opportunity to be there.’’
Cunha was impressed by all the history on the campus.
“I’ve always been a history kind of guy, so to see (Ulysses S.) Grant, and (Dwight D.) Eisenhower) and lots of other (statues) around the campus was something I really liked,’’ said Cunha, who lives in Watchung. I was very grateful that I had the opportunity to visit. When I got home I sent him (Father Gabriel) a message to say thanks.’’