UNION, NJ — Though high school athletics are canceled for the rest of the season, three Union High School athletes have been honored for their prowess on the field, as well as for their excellence in academics.
UHS senior Brian Kwarteng has been selected to receive a 2020 New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Scholar Athlete Award; one student athlete from each NJSIAA member school receives this honor each year. UHS seniors Elizabeth Arias and Zachary Radler have similarly been selected as 2020 Union County Interscholastic Association Conference Scholar-Athletes; one male student athlete and one female student athlete from each UCIAC member school receive this honor each year.
“We are very proud of all of our student athletes. Those chosen for the awards stood out because of their success in school, their involvement with the community, and the contributions they made to their team and teammates,” Union Athletic Director Linda Ionta told LocalSource. “I would like to congratulate Brian, Elizabeth and Zachary as well as their parents and families, on representing Union High School as our scholar-athlete recipients.”
Academically, Kwarteng is a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society and Key Club; secretary of Model United Nations; peer emissary leader with the UHS Ambassadors; sergeant at arms of Men’s Empowerment; social media adviser to Farmer Fam; and senior class president. Athletically, Kwarteng is captain of varsity track and field and a four-time state champion: 400-meter hurdles State Sectional Champion 2019; State Sectional Champion 4-x-200 meters; State Sectional Champion 4-x-400; and State Group IV Champion 4-x-400. Out of school, he is the musical leader at Qodesh Family Church in Plainfield.
“My initial reaction was absolute shock,” Kwarteng told LocalSource about receiving the NJSIAA honor. “I got on the phone with my athletic director and she was just saying all these great things about me and talking about how the administration and staff are proud to give me this honor. I then became very happy for myself because the NJSIAA Scholar Athlete Award is another thing that brings honor to my family name.”
The senior plans to attend Tufts University, located in Boston, Mass., in the fall to study biology on the pre-med track. He will run track and field for Tufts, too.
“My proudest track and field moment was at North 2 Group 4 State Sectional at Ridge High School on May 25, 2019. On that day I became a state sectional champ in the 400 hurdles, winning out of an unseeded heat. I beat everyone in the fastest heat and claimed my title for UHS,” Kwarteng said. “My proudest academic moment was ranking top 50 in my class. It is a great accomplishment because my class has a myriad of intelligent individuals. I was also named the senior class president, which helped me exhibit my leadership skills.”
All of this success did not come easily though; it required hard work.
“The advice that I would give to younger athletes is to take their sport seriously; it could take you a long way,” Kwarteng said. “Even sometimes your grades might not be the greatest, but sports can take you places you never imagined. Don’t wait for your turn — just go for it. Be the best athlete you can be.”
The UCIAC scholar-athletes are selected each year by the school using the following criteria: athletic achievement, academic achievement, and community and club involvement.
Radler has been a vital member of the cross-country, winter track and spring track teams for the past four years.
“In all four years of my high school career I played in three seasons,” Radler said. “I was named captain in all three seasons in my senior year and received two varsity awards in cross-country and three in both winter and spring track. In my time in these sports I competed at the town, county and state level, where our teams have found much success.”
While honing his athletic skill, he has also maintained a weighted grade-point average of 4.6 — an unweighted 3.9 — and has placed in the top 5 percent of his class.
“Throughout my four years at Union High School, I have valued my education above all else,” he said. “During my junior year I took the Advanced Placement exam for United States history and scored a 5, the highest score. In the same year I took the SAT and ACT exams scoring a 1450 and 32 respectively. In my senior year I took the certification test and became a certified AutoCAD user, helping me pursue my career as an architect. In my pursuit for further education I have applied to and been accepted to Kean University, NJIT and Penn State. I have decided to choose NJIT as my home for the next five years due to their incredible faculty, facilities, location and alumni.”
Radler has also participated in a number of club activities, including as an emissary of the Peer Leadership Program; a member of the ACE Mentoring Program and Farmer Fam; and an inducted member of the National Honor Society.
Arias, a softball player, has also found great success with UHS clubs and activities, including the Spanish National Honor Society, as secretary, and the Allied Health Program. She also does community service outside school with her family.
“At just about every three-month mark, my family and I bring meals and clothes to people who are homeless and not in shelters. This is a huge part of who I am outside of school. I prepare meals and bring them to those who are unable to have a cooked meal. I buy clothes and bring some of my own that are in good condition to give to those who are unable to clothe themselves as well,” she said. “You’d be surprised to know the amount of people that have remembered my family and I over the years as we continued to make our stops. I have been given the nickname ‘Angel’ — that’s what they call me every time I make a stop. Giving my time to others and helping them in any way possible is important to me and it’s a part of who I am.”
Building on her academic excellence at UHS, Arias plans to attend Rowan University, located in Glassboro, to study psychology. At Rowan, she will participate in an accelerated program called “Degree in Three,” which gives her the opportunity to earn her bachelor’s degree in three years.
Athletically, Arias has had a blast playing on the UHS softball team.
“I received my varsity letter freshman year in 2017, followed by three certificates of athletic achievement awards in the spring seasons of 2017, 2018 and 2019. Later on in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, I received honorable mention in our county conference consecutively,” she said. “I have also received a third-year varsity award for the 2018-2019 season, as well as the captain title. Lastly, the most recent award I have received was for the 2020 National Women’s Sports Day, where I represented Union High School and received recognition for being a participant.”
Photos Courtesy of Brian Kwarteng and Zachary Radler