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Meet Our 2024 Arredondo STEM Scholarship Winners

Meet Our 2024 Arredondo STEM Scholarship Winners

Fordham Prep is pleased to announce the Class of 2024 recipients of the Angeles T. Arredondo (ATA) Foundation STEM Scholarship: Charles Nordin, Jr. '24, Aakaash Raja '24, and Rafael Nieto '24.

The Prep is fortunate to partner with the ATA Foundation for a third year, allowing three outstanding Rams to benefit from their generosity with college scholarships.

The ATA Foundation's dedication to Fordham Prep, their support of the iSTEAM initiative, and our students is represented in the astounding commitment of $425,000 in scholarships over a five-year span. Every year, a new cohort of deserving students is awarded to benefit from this generous initiative.

This scholarship requires candidates to excel in six advanced STEM courses during their first three years, including subjects like AP Chemistry, Geometry Honors, and AP Physics. The three students who achieve the highest GPAs in these STEM courses are bestowed with this prestigious scholarship.

Our three winners in the Class of 2024 will officially receive their awards later in the academic year.

1st Prize Winner: Charles Nordin, Jr. '24 ($50k Scholarship)

Nordin appreciates the rigorous coursework that he was presented with in his iSTEAM classes. 

“Fordham Prep’s iSTEAM program has encouraged my love of mathematical and scientific thinking through challenging and hands-on coursework in AP Physics, Chemistry, and Calculus. The program has also brought me to find God in all things through the perspective of the sciences and to think about how my learning can be used at the service of humanity and for God’s greater glory, not just for myself,” he said.

In addition to being the co-president and co-founder of the Prep’s Math Club, Nordin has served as a singer and cantor in the Liturgical Choir. He’s a member of the Ministry Leadership Team, which has allowed him to help lead a Freshman Retreat as well as an Emmaus Retreat for juniors.

Nordin hopes to study theology or mechanical engineering in college next fall at a Catholic college in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. 

“Charles was bright and curious by nature,” recalls Matthew DiStefano from the Prep’s Science Department. “He approached his studies with a dedicated commitment to doing his best each day. Charles was diligent and thoughtful, giving careful consideration to each assignment, demonstrating a strong passion for learning, and a genuine interest in the subject matter,” he added.

2nd Prize Winner: Aakaash Raja '24 ($25k Scholarship)

For Raja, the iSTEAM program at Fordham Prep was an integral part of his self-discovery as a high school student.

“Each math and science class I have taken pushed me to learn both the subject and something new about myself,” he began. “This is largely due to the amazing individuals who teach me these subjects. The instruction is incredible, and the teachers are all patient and interested in seeing us learn. Furthermore, my talks with them about topics beyond the realm of classwork have been part of the spark that began my decision to include science or math somewhere in my next step. I am grateful for Fordham Prep’s guidance in helping me realize that I wish to study the harmonizing of the insight of quantitative subjects on questions that arise in the humanities,” he explained.

Outside of the classroom, Raja has worked with the Greenhouse Club to grow food for the pantry at Part of the Solution (POTS), and served the FitzSimons Civics Symposium Committee. Raja helped found the Math Club and is part of the History Bowl Team, Dean’s Council, Hunger Awareness Committee, and Rams for Justice, a club that raises awareness and funds to combat issues of injustice in our society. He is also the co-chair of the Student Life Committee (SLC) and a Student Representative on the Student Wellness Advisory Team (SWAT)—both of which have given Raja a taste of what it’s like to help craft policy.

In college next fall, Raja plans to major in mathematics and government or the intersection of both subjects. 

Anthony DiFato ‘99 of the Prep’s Science Department describes Raja as a “complex thinker.” He stated, “Aakaash would always break down a problem or concept into its various layers highlighting the subtle layers of complexity present. He was one of the most insightful and thoughtful students in the class. He would always pose questions about connections to various ideas or areas of study. He’s very much a Renaissance man.”

3rd Prize Winnter: Rafael Nieto '24 ($10k Scholarship)

The Prep’s iSTEAM program helped solidify Nieto’s interest in pursuing a career in the medical field. 

“Taking as many of the highest level science and math classes offered at the Prep as I could has allowed me to delve into the major fields of study that make up a pre-med curriculum in college and determine that medicine is indeed my passion,” Nieto noted. “I am thankful for the opportunity to have been offered such courses and rigor with which to challenge myself and hone in on my interests in biology, chemistry, and medicine to eventually integrate the natural and human sciences and mathematics into one profession,” he continued.

In addition to being one of the Prep’s javelin throwers on the track and field team and a soccer player, Nieto helped found the Math Club with Nordin and Raja. He’s also a member of Speech & Debate, the Yearbook Club, the Student Life Committee, and the Business Club.

Nieto intends to study pre-med with a major in biochemistry or neurobiology at a college in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, or on the West Coast of the United States.

“I would describe Rafael as an extremely devoted student. While there were many things that came to Rafael easily, he never took that for granted,” said Dean of Faculty and math teacher Claire McCarrick. “While his superior grades are certainly an added bonus, learning is what brings him joy. Rafael is a student who is intrinsically motivated and seeks to understand rather than to simply recall information,” she added.


Learn more about iSTEAM at Fordham Prep.