Reaching for the Stars: NASA-Hopeful Senior Lands Acceptance in Dream Aeronautic Engineering School

PCA Senior Receives Exciting News Prior to Christmas Break

As we get ready to head off for Christmas break on Friday, many students and teachers are ready to take a break from school. However, school is going to be #1 on the minds of many of our seniors over the holidays, as early acceptances begin to roll in. Many of our students have applied to some big-name schools like Yale, Quinnipiac, and Seton Hall, and several are anxiously awaiting the response from their “dream-schools”. One of our seniors received that letter last week. This is her story.

Abby Oberto transferred to PCA from her local school in the summer of her freshman year. Change can be scary for anyone, especially for a high school student in the midst of a school change. Fortunately for Abby, PCA’s loving, welcoming community that we so often speak about was once again clearly evident in Abby’s first month as an Eagle. “PCA seemed inviting and a school that I could thrive in. My first month here was easier than I expected. Because of what I experienced in the past (at my previous school), the love and acceptance that I experienced made it almost too easy to integrate into the school culture. Initially, I was absolutely terrified to come here because I thought that I was going to be an outcast like I used to be, but luckily, my experience was the complete opposite. Coming here was the best decision I have ever made in my life.”

As Abby became more comfortable with her new environment, she quickly began to view the school community as her own, offering to help out in several capacities, even volunteering to be a tour guide for Open Houses run by the Admissions Office. “It honestly happened so quickly that there isn’t one specific moment that I realized that I was truly a part of this community, which goes to show how socially immersive the school is. The first time I ever volunteered was in my freshman year. Mrs. Sipp asked me to be a tour guide at an Open House, and I was incredibly nervous, but through those feelings it felt like I had done this for years, so from then on I kept volunteering.”

Volunteer–sure. But, Abby has now reached the point of involvement and servant-leadership at PCA where she’s sought out for positions of leadership before she even needs to volunteer. New to PCA’s Upper School program this year is a leadership development program offered to seniors, deemed by faculty, to be suited for positions of responsibility and leadership in one of 5 areas at the Upper School: Fine Arts, Spiritual Life, Unity, Athletics and Academics. Abby is the school’s Unity Prefect, sharing the responsibility with PCA Senior, Dylan Thyng.

“I joined the prefect program to make a strong impact in the school, specifically in student life. It has not only helped me grow as a leader, but as a person. I am stronger and more confident in myself, and in my faith, because of what I have learned from the program.”

In this position, Abby and Dylan are responsible for identifying opportunities to build unity between PCA’s Upper and Lower School student bodies. If you read our article on the school’s “End 68 Hours of Hunger” food drive this fall, you’d have noticed that Abby and Dylan were responsible for the Upper School’s involvement in the food drive alongside the Lower School. Abby and Dylan are now in the planning stages of a winter carnival, meant to build community between the Upper School students and the current 8th grade class.

But, Abby’s not just here to serve. She’s here at PCA to reach her own academic and career goals–the first of which she reached just last week.

“My love for STEM was fostered back in the 4th grade when my science class was doing its astronomy unit. We were given one-page, one-sided articles about each of the planets, and I was mesmerized by the information, so since then I wanted to be an astronomer. Then, I started to pay attention to my dad’s line of work. He is a machinist/manufacturer, and I found that so interesting too. So, I mixed space and tech together and got my dream career of an Aerospace Engineer. So, for almost a decade I have wanted to work for NASA, but I did not learn about Embry-Riddle until my sophomore year when the school sent me a brochure. The minute I looked at it, I couldn’t stop smiling, and I had this feeling that that is where I needed to be.”

From then on, there was no stopping Abby. She always knew she needed to work hard in her academics, but now she knew exactly what she was working towards. She was literally reaching for the stars!

“Since I have always been drawn to STEM, I already was focused on those classes, but how I viewed the information and what I was being taught changed a lot. It was no longer just a lecture or just some facts I need to know for a test that I will later forget about. I have truly absorbed what I have learned in my classes because I will be utilizing that knowledge in the years to come.”

Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University is a private university focused on aviation and aerospace programs with its main campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona. It is the largest accredited university system specializing in aviation and aerospace. As the world’s most respected aeronautical university, entry into the program is quite competitive.

But, that didn’t stop Abby from making it her first “space mission”–and we’re all so glad it didn’t. Last week, Abby checked her mailbox and found “the blue box”, something Abby says is a tell-tale sign that she made her dream a reality.

“When I saw the blue box, what they send when you’re accepted, I screamed, but when I opened it and saw the certificate say, “Congratulations, you did it!” I started crying tears of joy. My dream that I have had since I was 11 years old had finally come true–and through my tears, all I could say was, “Thank you, Lord.”

When asked about her experience at PCA, and if she felt she’d been prepared for her next step in her academic journey, Abby emphatically answered, “Yes!”

“The moment I walked on campus my first day, it felt right. The teachers and everyone who has invested into my life here has allowed me to grow into an incredible, well-rounded young woman. Without the resources and the opportunities that PCA has to offer, I would not be anywhere close to where I am now. I would not be excelling in the classroom, as a student leader, and as a follower of Christ. I have had every opportunity to share and explore my passions and discover new ones. PCA’s slogan is “Preparation for Life” and the teachers and staff uphold that statement. I learned to collaborate and work well with others, my faith has been poured into and supported by those around me, and the support that I have from my teachers here and the growth that I have experienced gives me confidence for the next steps in my life.”

At the end of the day, that’s exactly what PCA’s mission entails: giving students the opportunities to try something new, the resources to excel at it, and the guidance to identify the best way of impacting the world for good with the skills God has given them. However, it’s up to the student, ultimately, to set goals for themselves as they progress through their academic careers. We’re reminded of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, in which 3 men are given 3 different amounts of gold by their master. In the parable, one man doubled his five talents, another doubled his two, and the last buried his talent in the dirt. When the master returned, he was irate to find that the 3rd man was so irresponsible with the resources he had been given.

Abby doubled her talents. In fact, she may have tripled, quadrupled, quintupled her talents! Abby set a goal for herself as a young woman, made use of the resources available to her, and accomplished that same goal ten years later. We’re proud of Abby, and overjoyed for the entire Oberto family. We hope to hear many more of these stories from our other outstanding members of this year’s senior class.