U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Josh Gottheimer (N.J.-05) yesterday honored New Jersey's Congressional Award Medalists at a ceremony hosted at Bergen Community College.

"Each of today’s honorees have challenged themselves to grow--mentally, physically, culturally, and personally. No two of their journeys have been exactly alike, yet each has earned the recognition of the United States Congress. Each has traveled along a path of self-improvement and service to others. And each has proven to be an outstanding young American," said Sen. Menendez.

Sen. Menendez and Rep. Gottheimer meet with the honorees

"I'm incredibly proud of the students receiving Congressional Awards. They embody New Jersey values; they are smart, strong, and dedicated in their service to their communities and families,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer.

The following 13 young leaders from across the state were honored for their achievements in public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration:
Gold Medal:
Maura Herbertson, Short Hills
Christopher Lauria, Oakhurst
Maya Ravichandran, Holmdel
Erica Wu, Holmdel
Silver Medal:
Nishay Bhatnagar, Livingston

Bronze Medal:
Andre Biehl, Princeton
Muhammed Keskin, Wayne
Jueun Kwon, Mahwah
Malvika Narayan, Monmouth Junction
Siena Rampulla, Holmdel
Grace Thornton, Short Hills

Congress established The Congressional Award in 1979 to recognize initiative, service, and achievement in young people. The program is open to all youth ages 14-23 and participants earn Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Certificates and Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Medals. Each level involves setting goals in four program areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.