Carolina Pelaez ’15, a Chemical Engineering major at Stevens, recently accepted the Annual Achievement Award from the United States Olympians Tri-States Chapter, which recognizes excellence in academics, community service, artistic and creative endeavors, and athletics.
Pelaez, from Union City, N.J., won the Youth Development Award from the same organization as a senior at Union City High School. Only recipients of the Youth Development Award, which honors the same qualities, are eligible for the Annual Achievement Award.
Although Pelaez is not involved in athletics herself, she constantly strives to excel in service and academics, especially mentoring young children.
“The United States Olympians Tri-States Chapter expects that as a recipient of their awards you will strive to pursue excellence in all the categories they value, as well as strive to encourage others to excellence,” said Pelaez. “If the organization approaches me about helping them reach out to younger kids about the importance of having such qualities, I am more than willing to do so. I strongly believe in what the organization strives to engrave in all their recipients and I always push to instill those values, principles and qualities in the younger people who reach out to me for mentoring and advice.”
The United States Olympians Tri-States Chapter is made up of current and former Olympians from the region, including Otis Davis, a 1960 two-time gold medalist in track & field who is president of the chapter and also currently works at Union City High School. Davis developed both the Youth Development Award and Annual Achievement Award.
The organization’s mission is to support the Olympic movement by encouraging service to local communities, providing professional leadership and experience to assist in total youth-development and charitable organizations, and helping to develop Olympians athletically, professionally and professionally.
Pelaez was nominated for the award by her mentor, high school teacher Nadia Makar.
“I was honestly not expecting to win,” Pelaez said. “I knew several people from my high school who have won the Youth Development Recognition Award and were running against me, and I know how strong their qualities are.”
At Stevens, Pelaez is part of the Cooperative Education program, pursuing a B.E. and M.E. in Chemical Engineering. After graduation, she plans to work in the medical technology field.