Four Saddle River Day School Students, One University: NYU Bound via Divergent Paths

Updated: Mar 20


Four Saddle River Day School seniors who are completely different in their personalities, interests and academic strengths were accepted early decision at New York University this year.  NYU is one of the most applied-to universities in the United States. In 2019 over 84,000 students applied with only 16% gaining acceptance. 


Since no two students are alike, the college application process at SRDS is highly individualized to meet the individual needs of our students and help them stand out. Director of College Counseling and 20-year veteran, Karen Ferretti, offers her insight:

“I always find it interesting that while students are so different, they can find a home at the same college. Over the years, SRDS has had many students matriculate at NYU, but this year, it was exciting to have four of our seniors accepted early decision. These days, differentiators typically revolve around extracurricular activities and college admissions officers are looking to see that whatever students have chosen to do, they’ve really made their mark and have been able to stand out. This certainly was the case with these four talented young women.”

Case in point: Madison Casey will be attending the School of Professional Studies with a focus on sustainable real estate development; Amy Cho will pursue a degree in environmental science; Jordan Janowski will attend the Liberal Studies program with a pre-med focus and as a member of the women’s basketball program; Vanessa Viglucci will pursue visual arts at NYU Steinhardt. We sat down with each of these students to talk about their individual experiences and how they felt SRDS prepared them for college.

1.  Why did you apply to NYU early decision? What was is about NYU that appealed to you the most?

MC: “I applied early decision because NYU offers a wide range of real estate and environmental science classes that will help me to pursue a degree focusing on sustainable real estate development. Also, on my very first visit to NYU, I fell in love with the vibrant sense of cultural diversity exemplified by both the students and professors. Cultural and racial diversity were two significant factors in my college search and I was glad to find them at such a beautiful campus. In addition, going to school in the heart of NYC is more than I could ever wish for.”

AC: “I applied to NYU because I liked the idea of being able to explore and learn outside of the classroom in a place like New York City. NYU offers so much, including strong professors and great support for their international student community. I also liked that they offered many study abroad programs.”

JJ: “I applied early decision because I knew this was the place for me, academically and athletically. From the first time I visited the school, I loved the atmosphere of being in NYC and knew this would be a great fit. I love the school's diversity within the student body, course selection, and study abroad programs, and there are unlimited resources and opportunities on campus and abroad, and in career placement. I am also very excited to play with the NYU women's basketball team! The coaches are extremely supportive and the team brings a great energy every time they step on the court.”

VV: “NYU Steinhardt has a really strong program for visual arts, but I really wanted a school that offered more than a sole focus on the arts. I wanted to have other opportunities available to me in college. I also loved the fact that I will be taught by working artists and professionals in their fields at NYU. And more than anything, I love New York City and the thought of going to college there was very appealing.”

2.  How long have you attended SRDS? Tell me what your favorite thing/s about SRDS are and how do you think SRDS prepared you for life in college?

MC: “I started at SRDS as a Junior, but I wished I’d come sooner. My favorite thing about SRDS is its sense of community. During the year, there are many events such as spirit week and pep rallies that create a fun environment. Both the students and teachers are very approachable and are willing to help anyone with any problems they may be facing. I also love the amount of freedom that is given to the students. This freedom has prepared me for college as it teaches me independence.”

AC: “I started at SRDS as a freshman. My favorite thing at SRDS is that I have the opportunity to interact with my teachers, including our College Guidance Counselor, Ms. Ferretti. She was so accessible during the college application process; her advice and experience were so helpful to me and helped me to get into my top choice college!”

JJ: “I started here my sophomore year. My favorite thing about SRDS is the community. I have very close relationships with all my teachers and I have learned so much more than what was taught in the classroom; I have learned the importance of networking, public speaking, as I will be doing in my TED Talk this spring, and the value of having sound guidance in general from my teachers. Being able to have such a supportive community from the student body and faculty has prepared me for college in that I have gained confidence in myself to make new friends and develop close relationships with teachers.”

VV: “I came to SRDS as a sophomore from public school. Hands down, my favorite thing is the outstanding arts program and my visual arts classes. It helped me realize that I wanted to go on and study art in college. Our visual arts teacher, Ms. Steinke, helped me create a really strong portfolio so I would be a competitive applicant to NYU.”

3.  Is there something unique or special about you or your "story" that you'd like us to know?

MC: “I have never pictured myself attending a university in New York City. Since I was young, I have always wanted to go away for college to grow as an independent woman. I pictured myself  attending a college in California or Florida; however, this changed when I stepped foot on the campus at NYU. Immediately, I felt like it was the place that I belonged. I felt at home. I know at NYU I will not only thrive as a student but as a woman, as city life encourages independence and offers unlimited opportunities for success.”

AC: “I am an international student from Korea. I have attended three different schools in the United States, and this helped me learn how to acclimate and make friends. I know those skills will help me in college too.”

JJ: “I am a basketball recruit, so while I fell in love with NYU for its academics and college life, I will be heavily invested in the athletic program. With a brand new facility going up in the next year, I believe the school will have even more school spirit and I can't wait to be a part of it.”

VV: “I never thought I’d be able to compete with other students in the visual arts, but with the experience I gained through my art classes at SRDS, I was able to create a really strong portfolio. I am looking forward to being in NYC and having the opportunity to take advantage of all that it has to offer in the arts.” In addition to NYU, other students from the Class of 2020 have been accepted and/or enrolled at the following colleges and universities via early decision or early action: Bates College, Fordham University, Loyola Marymount University, Miami University, University of Michigan, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, Parsons School of Design, Penn State University, University of Richmond, Stanford University, and Wake Forest University (partial listing).

One of the core values at SRDS states that “Everyone Counts: all children and adults matter; their contributions are prized.” Just as these four students brought different talents and contributions to the life of our upper school, they will do the same as they continue their journeys in college and beyond. We congratulate each of them on their accomplishments.



Saddle River Day School

147 Chestnut Ridge Road  •  Saddle River, NJ 07458  •  Tel: 201.327.4050


Online Information Sessions Lower + Middle School: Tuesday, March 31st at 12pm Middle + Upper School: Wednesday, April 1st at 7pm

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Watch your child grow from a student into a scholar—and into a lifetime of success.


From exploring Spanish, music and lab-based science beginning in Pre-K to hosting a TEDxYouth Conference in high school … from active play to competing on a championship Rebel Athletics team … inspiring success starts right from the beginning at Saddle River Day School.


Here, learning begins with an intriguing problem to solve, a story that captivates or a question that provokes curiosity—and the personal connection between teachers and students motivates everyone. To develop holistic, “right-brain” thinkers, we integrate science, technology, engineering, art and math, and celebrate different ways to solve real problems.


SRDS graduates from recent years are thriving at top colleges like Boston College, NYU and Stanford. They are creative individuals inspired to think, solve and achieve—in academics and in life.


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