It is no surprise that New Paltz High School senior Katerina Pisciotta comes from generations of empowered women. Both of Pisciotta’s grandmothers had full-time jobs throughout their lives, in addition to raising families — one was a nurse, while the other managed apartment buildings and worked on her husband’s horse farm in Gardiner. “She was one of those go-with-the flow types of people,” Pisciotta smiles, citing a lovably headstrong personality. Not only did their strength and independence inform her own choices, but she’s gotten her love of baking and cooking from their “really Italian” love of food. “My mom bakes a lot,” she laughs. “I just like to do it as a past-time.”
The encouragement of her family has been crucial to Pisciotta. “I have a great family. [They’re] supportive,” she says. Having a cousin of the same age, Gabby Pisciotta, in the same school since they were kids, has also given her a built-in best friend. Not only that, but the size of her family may have informed her career choice. As of right now (“I’ve pretty much said that I wanted to be every type of doctor,” she laughs) she hopes to work as a neonatologist, or a doctor specializing in work with infants. Growing up with many younger cousins, babies were always around — and given that Pisciotta’s mom is a labor and delivery nurse at Vassar Brothers Medical Center, it’s no surprise that she developed an interest in working with them.
“I’ve known probably since I was ten that I wanted to be a doctor,” she says — and classes like health, biology and chemistry have further cemented this. She is particularly inspired by AP chemistry teacher Stephannie Costello, and attends her aerobic dance classes in Port Ewen twice a week — always the highlight of her week. “She has this bubbly personality, and [the choreography] fits her personality perfectly.”
Unsurprisingly, Pisciotta plans to major in biology with a pre-med track, and will matriculate at SUNY Geneseo this fall. “I’m excited to see what else is out there,” she smiles. She’s confident that she made the right choice in terms of where to go to school. “I tried to say, ‘Am I going to be happier here’?”
Someone as confident as Pisciotta should be happy anywhere. “I get along with pretty much everyone, and New Paltz has allowed me to do that,” she says. Besides holding a job at Wallkill View Farm, she is also co-captain of New Paltz’s golf team, a member of student government, and a member of the Peer Education club under the direction of Shannan Magnetico. While the workload might be difficult for some, she enjoys helping to make fun school activities happen for her peers. “This year’s pep rally was different for me, because I was part of student government for the first time,” she explains. She was amazed by how much leg-work went into a single day — she helped figure out the logistics of using the gym for the day, coordinate what food the different clubs were planning to make as well as the placement of their signs around the cafeteria, and even managed details like the necessity of electrical outlets for certain clubs to prepare their food. All that planning, though, made it even more rewarding to watch her classmates go wild with school spirit.
“The things that are accepted at our school are not accepted everywhere else. As a whole, people can express themselves at school and not feel like they can’t,” Pisciotta reflects. “As much as I’m ready to move on from this town, I’m glad I grew up in it. It really opened my eyes.”