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Montclair High Student-Athletes Are Recipients of 2015 Commonwealth Club/Karl Gabriel Scholarships

The Commonwealth Club’s Karl Gabriel Memorial Scholarship winners, Christina Sokolic and Owen Daly-Smith, have two things in common: Academically, both were ranked in the top five of their Montclair High School graduating Class of 2015. And both were superb athletes, rowing crew for the Mounties.

So it should come as no surprise they wound up at outstanding colleges, Christina at the College of William & Mary, and Owen at Wesleyan University. The club scholarships — $500 grants given annually to a female and male senior — pay special tribute to concerned young adults whose academic achievement, community spirit and actions inspire others. The scholarships are named for the late long-time treasurer of the club. Founded in 1904, the Commonwealth is one of the oldest social clubs in New Jersey.

“We are very happy to recognize Christina and Owen for their outstanding achievements as student-athletes,” Commonwealth Club President Kevin Murphy said. “And we hope they find continuing success pursuing their life goals.”

The 2015 recipients of the Commonwealth Club/Karl Gabriel Memorial Scholarships,
Christina Sokolic and Owen Daly-Smith, have two things in common: Both were ranked academically in the top five of their Montclair High School graduating Class of 2015. And both were superb athletes, rowing crew for the Mounties.

So it should come as no surprise the two wound up at outstanding colleges, Christina at the College of William & Mary, and Owen at Wesleyan University. The club scholarships — $500 grants given annually to a female and male senior — are awarded to concerned young adults whose academic achievement, community spirit and actions inspire others. The scholarships, presented at the high school during ceremonies at the conclusion of the 2014-15 academic year, are named for the late long-time treasurer of the club. Founded in 1904, the Commonwealth is one of the oldest social clubs in New Jersey.

“We are very happy to recognize Christina and Owen for their outstanding achievements as student-athletes,” Commonwealth Club President Kevin Murphy said. “And we hope they find continuing success as they pursue their life goals.”

We asked Christina and Owen a few questions, and here are their responses.

Commonwealth Club: What do you consider your major accomplishments at the high school?

Christina Sokolic, a 2015 Commonwealth Club/Karl Gabriel Scholarship recipient, is a first-year student at the College of William & Mary.

Christina Sokolic, a 2015 Commonwealth Club/Karl Gabriel Scholarship recipient, is a first-year student at the College of William & Mary.

Christina: My major accomplishment at MHS was rowing for the crew team. I was a rower all four years and did the sport year-round. I am also proud to say that I am the shortest rower to have ever joined the team and to make the team every year! I was also the treasurer for Montclair High School’s Mandarin Honor Society. My AP Mandarin class was the first AP Mandarin class at MHS, so we founded Montclair’s Mandarin Honor Society Chapter.

Owen: Most of my major non-academic accomplishments at MHS involve rowing, which I did for all four years in high school.  Along with other rowers on the team,
I won Garden State Championships four years in a row, once in freshman quads, twice in JV quads, and this past year in the varsity double with James Pew. In addition, I won four medals at the Philadelphia City Championships, including a gold this last year in the varsity double.  At the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, the largest inter-scholastic regatta in the world, I won a bronze in freshman quads, a silver in JV quads, and a silver this year in the varsity double. Finally, I won two silver medals at Scholastic Nationals Regatta., one in the JV quad and one in the varsity double. As far as academic accomplishments, what I’m most proud of is scoring a 5 on the AP chemistry exam, as well as just finishing the class. The teacher, Mrs. Panchekha is without a doubt the most demanding teacher I have had thus far. I also scored a 5 on the AP Spanish exam, as well as 4s on the AP Computer Science and AP U.S. History exams.

Commonwealth Club: What are you most proud of about your high school career?

Christina: That would have to be my time on the crew team. The sport has definitely given me a lot of mental strength and fortitude. It was also a very big time commitment and was the only year-round sport at the high school. 

Owen Daly-Smith,  a 2015 Commonwealth Club/Karl Gabriel Scholarship recipient, is a first-year student at Wesleyan University.

Owen Daly-Smith, a 2015 Commonwealth Club/Karl Gabriel Scholarship recipient, is a first-year student at Wesleyan University.

Owen: I’m most proud of how I was able to develop as an athlete, a student and a person while at MHS. Participation in the crew team and a rigorous academic schedule challenged me greatly and forced me to step up physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m very proud of how I managed to cope with a lot of pressure, and I feel that this development will help me to succeed in college and in life. 

Commonwealth Club: Can you tell us at this point what path you would like to pursue in college?

Christina: My plan at William & Mary is to major in biology and to go pre-vet. Of course, that plan can change at any time, and if there is one thing that I have learned during my early weeks at the college it is that majors change very often. For now, I am enjoying my time as a Pre-Professional Veterinary Club member and am fulfilling my basic biology major requirements.  

Owen: I’m still unsure exactly what I will study at Wesleyan, but I am leaning towards something in the cognitive science field. If I were forced to pick a major on the spot, I would say behavioral economics, as it combines cognitive disciplines with economics, and I believe it will be a very exciting field to emerge in the coming years.

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