Illness helps student, 12, prove her mettle

Illness helps student,
12, prove her mettle

JACKSON — A Goetz Middle School student who persevered in her studies despite a tumor in her leg and eight weeks in a body cast was chosen to attend the Junior National Young Leaders Conference (JrNYLC), a leadership development program for middle school students.

According to a press release from the Jackson school district, Nina Selitto, 12, who is in the seventh grade at Goetz, traveled to Washington, D.C., for the conference from Nov. 1-6.

"I’m so happy and excited that I was nominated for a once-in-a-lifetime trip like this," Nina said.

With the theme, "The Legacy of American Leadership," the JrNYLC introduces young people to the tradition of leadership throughout American history, while helping them develop their own leadership skills. Selitto participated in educational activities and presentations given by individuals in positions of leadership. In specially designed small groups, students also visited historic national landmarks.

In addition to examining notable U.S. leaders and historic figures, Selitto studied the impact of leadership throughout critical periods of American history.

Selitto was nominated by teacher Denise Katsoupas, who helped keep the student positive through recent medical challenges.

"Mrs. Katsoupas was so positive with Nina throughout this experience and really helped Nina stay on track academically and also sustain her good humor and enthusiasm," said Nina’s mother, Linda

In October 2002, Nina was diagnosed with a bone tumor on the top of her right femur. The tumor had grown large enough to cause her hip to fracture. Surgery was done at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to remove the tumor, which was benign, and to repair the fracture. Nina was in a body cast for eight weeks and still has a pin and plate in her hip. She began physical therapy in February, according to the press release.

"Nina was amazing through this entire experience," said Linda Selitto. "She always had a smile on her face and never complained. Still, her self-esteem suffered from the ordeal. When she found out that she was nominated for this conference, she was so excited and motivated by it. Her self-confidence immediately improved."

The Congressional Youth Leadership Council is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization. Founded in 1985, the council is committed to fostering and inspiring young people to achieve their full leadership potential. More than 400 members of the U.S. Congress join this commitment by serving on the CYLC Honorary Congressional Board of Advisers. For additional information on JrNYLC, visit