April Students of the Month

Ilona Maczka

As a child, Ilona Maczka spent much of her time watching YouTube videos showcasing the world of beauty. “Makeup, hair, you name it, I’ve always had a passion for styling. I’d even wake up early to do my sister’s makeup before work,” she says. It’s no wonder this young woman from Ringwood chose to enroll in PCTI‘s School of Cosmetology.

Ilona’s hard work in academics has ensured that she ranks in the top thirteen percent of her class with a GPA of 3.92! In fact, she’s challenged herself throughout her high school career by enrolling in countless honors courses and has achieved Principal’s Honor Roll.

At PCTI, Ilona serves as Head of Administration for the NJROTC and Secretary of the Executive Committee of ERASE. She is also involved in the School-to-Careers program and works as a Salon Assistant at the Gallery A Salon. When not showcasing full dedication to academics and her job, Ilona volunteers as part of her career area by providing care to senior citizens and participating in events such as Wellness Day.

She has earned her New Jersey Department of Cosmetology Permit and will graduate with her Cosmetology Licensure. In addition to these certifications in her program area, Ilona is a certified American Red Cross Lifeguard, as well as First Aid, CPR, and AED certified.

When asked about her aspirations for the future, Ilona has decided to pursue a degree in Biology. “I want to become a doctor, but I need to try it out and see if I like it,” she says.

Ilona has been accepted to Monmouth University and The College of New Jersey. “Monmouth has a Pre Med program and TCNJ just built their new biology wing, so I’m going to visit both and figure out which one feels like the right choice.”

Her greatest assets are her joyous nature and positive attitude, which are contagious. “There’s so much negativity in the world. If I can bring light into situations and help people come together, so that they can be happy, then that’s what I want to do.”

One thing’s for certain, Ilona’s incredibly kind and supportive nature will ensure she experiences much success when working with others. Congratulations to this caring and motivated Bulldog!


    • Ranks in the top 13% of her class
    • Serves as Head of Administration for the NJROTC & Secretary of the Executive Committee of ERASE
    • Received NJ Department of Cosmetology Permit, will graduate with Cosmetology Licensure
    • Certified American Red Cross Lifeguard, with First Aid, CPR, AED certifications
    • Co-Op with the Gallery A Salon
    • Goal: Graduate from a university with a degree in Biology, become a Doctor

Maricela Pina

Maricela Pina is a young woman from Passaic whose career area of choice runs in the family. “In Mexico, my grandparents used to own a bakery. They still cook for holidays, even today. My dad passed down everything he learned to me.”

She’s made quite an impact as a member of the School of Culinary Arts. During her high school career, Maricela competed in both ProStart and SkillsUSA competitions. She served as the Team Captain of the Culinary ProStart during her junior year, a time when PCTI took home fourth place in the national competition!

Maricela ranks in the top fifteen percent of her class with a GPA of 3.85. During her time at PCTI, she’s been nominated for both Honor Roll and Principal’s Honor Roll and was selected for Circle of Success.

She participates in the School-to-Careers program and works at Chez Technique where her main role is preparing seafood.

Maricela’s favorite meal to prepare is pan seared duck with butternut squash puree and roasted potato, which consequently, was her ProStart team’s competition dish.

During her time at PCTI, Maricela has received certifications from the National Restaurant Association’s Foundation of Restaurant Management and the Culinary Certificate of Participation. She’s also earned the ServSafe Management certification.

When it comes to her future, Maricela already has a plan. This bilingual Bulldog is already fluent in Spanish and English and has taken both Chinese and American Sign Language while in high school. She’s also studied Italian, Turkish, and French. “I aim to become an International Executive Chef, so its important that I’m exposed to numerous languages - that way I can fully immerse myself in different cultures.”

She’s been accepted to and will attend a four year program at the Culinary Institute of America. Maricela will study food business management with a culinary arts core. Her greatest ambition is to own her own restaurant.

When asked about what she’s enjoyed most about her time at PCTI, Maricela says, “I really appreciate being able to get the restaurant experience. Working at Chez Technique has allowed me to fully explore the culinary field. Everything is offered here.” She also adds, “My time management skills have improved immensely. Through competitions and schoolwork, I’ve learned a lot about balance.”

Congratulations Maricela! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!


    • Ranks in the top 15% of her class
    • Achieved Honor Roll and Principal’s Honor Roll, selected for Circle of Success
    • Co-Op with Chez Technique
    • Served as Team Captain when the Culinary ProStart Team placed 4th in the nation
    • Earned certifications in Foundation of Restaurant Management, the Culinary Certificate of Participation, and ServSafe Management Certification
    • Goal: Graduate from CIA, become an International Executive Chef, open her own restaurant

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