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LD 12 - Legislator Leslie Kennedy

Posted on: May 2, 2023

Legislator Leslie Kennedy Commends Student Achievement: Holy Mary Zaher and Saverio Barbera

Leslie Kennedy and Holy Mary Zaher

At the May 2 General Meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, Legislator Leslie Kennedy presented Holy Mary Zaher a proclamation for her participation and placement in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. She also presented Saverio Barbera a proclamation for his participation and victory in the Offense-Defense All American Bowl. 

The Regeneron competition awards $1.2 million to the nation’s most promising young scientists and their schools. In total, 300 scholars will be award $2,000 each and their schools will be awarded $2,000 for each enrolled scholar. 

Holy Mary Zaher competed against 1,949 applicants from 627 high schools across 48 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and four other countries. Scholars were chosen based on their outstanding research, leadership skills, community involvement, commitment to academics, creativity in asking scientific questions and exceptional promise as STEM leaders demonstrated through the submission of their original, independent research projects, essays and recommendations. The 300 scholars hail from 194 American and international high schools in 35 states and China.  

Holy Mary Zaher’s project studied Parkinson’s in rates, uncovering novel aspects to the illness that she plans on exploring in further research. 

“As a former nurse, I know first-hand how devastating this disease can be,” said Legislator Kennedy. “Through her natural curiosity and hard work, the world has become a better place. I think that is part of the promise of scientific discovery and promoting STEM among the youth, that it is not a chore or a job to them. It is the excitement of learning about the world that drives them.” 

The 2023 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl at SoFi Stadium in California takes top high school athletes from across the country and gives them three days of intense training in their newly formed teams. Participants learn new rules, plays and procedures from NFL coaches. 

His team, the ‘Head Hunters,’ won 18-13 in the finals against the ‘Dream Killers.’

Overall, the experience has prepared him to play college ball and is a huge credit to the athletics program at Hauppauge High School. 

“Saverio had to apply to this program through the submission of various game play footage,” said Legislator Kennedy. “His participation in the Offense-Defense Bowl not only helps him develop discipline and technique, but allows him to take this training back to his teammates who will greatly benefit as a result.” 

To be selected for the All-American Bowl, he had to be nominated, then send in films that were reviewed by a panel of coaches. Only 100 participants were chosen from across the entire United States. 

Saverio has trained with Golden Ukonu of Long Island and Team Revo of Revolution Athletics. He was previously the junior varsity captain. He is an offensive guard and defensive tackle. 

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