For the first time in history, a student has followed in the footsteps of one of her parents in winning a prestigious Unsung Hero award.

The Middlesex County School Boards Association and the Middlesex County Association of School Administrators in conjunction with the New Jersey School Boards Association has been recognizing students as Unsung Heroes for 37 years. Every year, one junior and one senior are selected from each high school in the county to receive the honor.

This year, Rebecca Whalen, a junior at John K. Kennedy Memorial High School in Woodbridge, was recognized as an unsung hero award winner, joining her mother, Nancy (Perry) Whalen, who won the award in 1990 while attending Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School in Perth Amboy.

Rebecca was recognized at a recent banquet at Old Bridge High School. After her mother found out her daughter was receiving the award, it reminded her that she had won it while she was in school as well.

Students who receive the award are recognized for their academic, athletic and artistic achievements. The award is meant to honor students who go above and beyond, without expecting recognition or material awards.

When Rebecca found out she was receiving the award, she was “very excited,” and “really honored,” she said.

“She’s a good kid and a hard worker – and I think she deserves it,” her mother said.

Learn more about this incredible story in this video.