Alyssa Befumo is one of Huntington High School’s best. The Class of 2018 member has garnered an assortment of well-deserved accolades over the years, but she’s only getting started showing the world what she can do. The teenager is headed to DePaul University in Chicago in the fall.
Ms. Befumo will be studying in DePaul’s honors program. She intends to major in peace, justice and conflict studies. “Within this program I will be studying non-violent conflict resolution techniques, human rights advocacy, social justice and peace building efforts,” she said. “I may pursue a minor in public policy or in criminology with a concentration in community justice studies.”
The Huntington teenager spent many hours researching colleges and their offerings before choosing DePaul University. “The Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies Department is the most unique program I discovered throughout my college search,” Ms. Befumo said. “The knowledge I gain in the classroom will be applied to real world situations because I will have opportunities to complete internships with organizations in Chicago that share my passion of inciting social change. Additionally, while the professors at DePaul are well versed in their respective fields, their main focus remains on teaching and working with students. I tend to work best when I have access to my teachers and can collaborate with them in order to ensure academic success.”
Drawn to DePaul by its location
Huntington High School senior Alyssa Befumo.
The senior is eagerly anticipating her move to Midwest America. “One reason I was drawn to DePaul is its location,” Ms. Befumo said. “Chicago is the nation’s hub of social justice and activism. I have every intention of getting involved in local volunteer and advocacy efforts and doing my part in the fight to improve the lives of the city’s citizens.”
Ms. Befumo considered American University, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Sarah Lawrence College, Fordham University, City College and Binghamton University before making the decision to attend DePaul.
The teenager has been exceptionally involved in the life of Huntington High School over the past four years. Co-president of the mock trial club, she played a key role on the team won the county championship and finished third in the state championships this past spring.
“The mock trial team has allowed me to overcome my fears of public speaking, develop my critical thinking skills and affirm my desire to pursue a career in law,” Ms. Befumo said. Mock trial has introduced me to some incredible people and I could not be more proud of how far we came this year.”
The Blue Devil marching band’s flute section leader, Ms. Befumo is a four year member of the organization. “Perhaps more than any other program that I’ve been a part of, marching band has strengthened and cultivated my sense of community, self-discipline, work ethic and leadership skills,” she said. “There is no greater feeling of satisfaction than physically seeing the group’s hours of rehearsal pay off on the competition field.”
First place in State History Day
A longtime participant in the National History Day initiative, Ms. Befumo won first place in the local competition for three consecutive years and captured the state championship as a junior. She went on to present her documentary, “The Stonewall Uprising: Taking a Stand Against LGBT Inequality” at the national finals at the University of Maryland, College Park. It was also shown at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC at the first ever student documentary showcase last June.
A member of the National Honor Society, English Honor Society and Social Studies Honor Society, Ms. Befumo was recognized this spring as a Distinguished Senior after compiling an academic grade average of at least a 90 in every semester of high school.
Her senior year academic schedule has included Advanced Placement Psychology, AP Research, AP Government and Politics, Senior Band, Algebra II and Forensics and a credit bearing internship with business teacher Suzie Biagi in a Personal Law class.
“After completing my undergraduate studies, I intend to attend law school,” Ms. Befumo said. “My main career goal is to become a civil rights attorney, hopefully working with an organization such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Organization or the Innocence Project.”
A member of the Huntington Foundation for Excellence in Education’s Youth Board, Ms. Befumo has participated in the high school’s Natural Helpers program along with the drama club.
Volunteers with Woodhull drama club
“Since seventh grade, I have returned to Woodhull Intermediate School to volunteer as student director of the drama club,” Ms. Befumo said. “I have worked closely with teachers Allison Von Vange and Todd Hiscox as well as the fifth and sixth grade students on the annual musical. It’s truly been an honor working with the future of Huntington’s fine and performing arts program. Every year, I am truly awed by the talent, dedication and kindness of these young students.”
Ms. Befumo has worked closely with numerous faculty members. “Teachers who have made my four years at Huntington truly wonderful include Mrs. Biagi, Mrs. [Lauren] Desiderio, Ms. [Dianna] Molenko, Mrs. [Amelia] Saggese, Mr. [Joseph] Cohen and Mr. [Michael] Schwendemann,” the teenager said.
The senior has been especially close with Mrs. Biagi, who has also been a faculty advisor with the mock trial team. “Since freshman year, Mrs. Biagi has served as a role model for me,” Ms. Befumo said. “Aside from introducing me to the study of law through her Personal Law course, she has inspired me with her constant resilience in the face of adversity. She truly goes out of her way to make students feel at home during their time at Huntington. I cannot thank her enough for her generosity and constant encouragement.”
From performing with the Blue Devil marching band in the state championships in the Syracuse Carrier Dome and winning the Suffolk mock trial championship and advancing to the state finals to winning first place in State History Day and presenting her documentary at the Smithsonian’s African American Museum of History and Culture, Ms. Befumo has enjoyed a magnificent high school run. Now it’s time to move on to DePaul and seek to accomplish a new set of goals.
“Huntington High School has such an incredible amount of opportunities for its students that I’d advise everyone to take full advantage of,” Ms. Befumo said. “High school is truly what you choose to make of it and with dedication and hard work, you have the ability to shape your community and accomplish amazing things long before you walk the stage at graduation.”