Manhasset senior fills busy schedule with music, science, Mock Trial

Manhasset High School senior Emily Cruz was the only Manhasset student honored as a Regeneron Scholar. (Photo courtesy of Manhasset school district)

When Emily Cruz joined the St. Mary’s Church choir in second grade, she didn’t know it would become such an important part of her life.

The following year, Cruz said, she began voice lessons with the choir director, Terence Goff, who has forever affected her in a musical and personal way.

“[Goff has] definitely changed my life,” Cruz said. “He’s taught me that singing is more letting the voice go through you than you controlling the voice, and he’s taught me how to be a good person.”

The daughter of Ray Cruz and Elsie Leon-Cruz, the Manhasset High School senior is a member of the school’s select ensemble and symphonic choir. Cruz also formed the Shirley Temples, a school a cappella group and was recently selected by the New York State School Music Association as an all-state soloist.

This month Cruz was named as a Regeneron Science Talent Search scholar, earning a semifinalist honor for her project studying the Alley Creek, Iona and Pelham marshes and testing the soil’s carbon levels to determine what kind of plants and animals lived in the area when the marshes were thriving.

“Marshes are essential for so many ecosystem impacts and for helping with storm water runoffs,” Cruz said. “During Hurricane Harvey, Houston had taken away so many of the marshes that when the hurricane came, there was nothing to protect the shore from having this huge floodwater come in. If they hadn’t taken away some of the marshes to create apartment complexes, the marshes could have taken in some of the storm water runoff and could have decreased the damages.”

Cruz said thanks to New York’s marshes, the area was spared about $80 million worth of damage during Superstorm Sandy.

Cruz has also been dancing since she was 4 years old and currently takes ballet, hip hop, tap and modern dance classes at Berest Dance Center in Port Washington. Cruz is also highly involved with the high school musical theater program and has been involved with all the musicals in her four years on campus.

At school, Cruz is a member of the Gay Straight Alliance, president of the Manhasset Feminism Club, co-president of the English honors society and co-captain of the Mock Trial team where, this year, she takes on the role of one of the attorneys.

“I try to keep a balance of everything,” Cruz said. “I make sure there’s no gaps in my schedule, and I always make sure there’s not a lot of overlap.”

The 18-year-old Manhasset native said her fourth-grade teacher Patricia Siver at Shelter Rock Elementary School helped push the scholar, who was accepted to Princeton University and plans to study environmental engineering as well as vocal performance and economics, into the young woman she is today.

“Mrs. Siver’s teaching style made learning finally click for me,” Cruz said of her former teacher. “When I was younger, they wanted to put me in a lot of support classes, but it was that year when I started to feel like I was understanding my classes and I was smart.”

Cruz also said her current physics teacher, Pavithra Sundar, has also helped her fall in love with physics and is one of the driving forces behind Cruz’s decision to study environmental engineering in college.

About the author

Amelia Camurati

Amelia Camurati is a Southern transplant and a reporter covering Roslyn and Manhasset.
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