Friday, January 17, 2014

The New Yorker

Alexandria has been at San Juan Diego Catholic High School (SJDCHS) since her freshman year. Currently just she, her Mother and Father live at home, but she has two older brothers who’ve already started lives and families of their own in New York. Alexandria loves to do outdoorsy things, like camping and seeing outdoor concerts, which is a big thing here in the Austin area. She has also sung in the school talent show for the past three years and is heavily involved in many organizations at SJDCHS such as Student Government and the National Honor Society.

Apart from her home and school life, Alexandria has strong ambitions as an environmental lawyer for her life after SJDCHS “I took AP environmental science and was really passionate about the environment. I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer and then I found out that I would be able to combine the two.” During her junior year, Alexandria began working at McGinnis Lochridge and Kilgore LLP, a law firm in the Austin area, and is now employed at Graves Dougherty Hearon and Moody in downtown Austin. Her duties include secretarial work, filing, scanning, and other administration duties. “During my time at Graves Dougherty Hearon and Moody, I was given the opportunity to have lunch with four different lawyers. I spoke with them about their jobs and the colleges they went to. Being able to actually work in a law firm just reaffirmed what I wanted to do.”

Alexandria speaks highly of the staff at SJDCHS. Teachers such as Mr. Applewhite [Environmental Science] and Mrs. Zebrowski [former Theology teacher] have been major influences in her decision to pursue a career in law. “The senior seminar class has been extremely helpful. Mrs. Liu assisted me through the entire college application process including financial aid applications.” Alexandria has applied and been accepted to colleges such as St. Edward’s University, The University of the Incarnate Word, and Hofstra University. “Although I’d like to leave Austin to travel and experience other cities, I eventually want to end up back here to start a family and enjoy life.”

Friday, January 10, 2014

Giving Back To The Community

Jessica, a senior at San Juan Diego Catholic High School (SJDCHS), has attended private school since she was a fifth grader. She strongly believes that attending a private school for a large part of her education has allowed her to decide what she wants to do with her life and has given her a leg up when applying for colleges and narrowing down her career choices. “There’s a lot more work, I believe, that goes with attending a private school, but I think you learn more and have closer relationships with your classmates instead of having cliques like at public schools.”

The teachers at SJDCHS have been nothing but inspirational to Jessica. Educators such as Ms. Liu, the college counselor, and Mr. Bongard, the history teacher, have inspired Jessica to work hard and pursue her goals.  “Not only have I been taught to study and manage my time [at SJDCHS] but I’ve also learned how to have a good work-life balance.” With the help of college counselor Alison Liu, Jessica has been accepted to Lamar University and Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, where she hopes to major in biology and eventually get her masters in marine biology.

Along with a private school education contributing to her work ethic, Jessica believes it has also contributed to knowing what she wants to do for her career, and that is Marine Biology. “I would always watch the discovery channel and watch people scuba dive and get to see the ocean. I want to help make the ocean healthier for not just us but the animals that inhabit it.” To further her dream of becoming a marine biologist, Jessica has also attended a sea camp in Galveston which taught her about scuba diving certification. “I want to eventually give back to other communities and help the environment. I believe I’ve had a really good starting off point with my education.”

Friday, December 20, 2013

Being Thankful

With a passion for helping and supporting others, senior Rolando loves to entertain people and play sports. Every Sunday he enjoys a family outing to a restaurant of their choice following mass at San Jose Catholic Church. Rolando belongs to Respeto, a program at San Jose Catholic Church for Mexican American teenagers who are already demonstrating leadership potential in their school, neighborhoods, and church youth groups. This program is very demanding and requires a certain level of maturity, openness, and a one year commitment.

Rolando’s family decided to send him to San Juan Diego Catholic High School (SJDCHS) because of the dedication exemplified by teachers and staff. “I liked the small community feeling of SJDCHS. I was able to meet everyone my first day which also allowed me to create closer relationships with people.” During this interview, Rolando expressed to me how grateful he was for his parents’ sacrifices and told me about his ambitions later on in life. “Originally I wanted to be a pediatrician. After some thought, I decided to become a pediatric nurse or any type of nurse really, just as long as I’m helping people.” To make his dream a reality, Rolando has already applied to colleges such as University of the Incarnate Word, The University of Texas at Arlington, Texas State, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi; he has been accepted into all four.

Rolando is also thankful for the dedication the teachers have shown during his time at SJDCHS. He attributes his getting accepted into colleges to college counselor Alison Liu, who helps students not only apply to college, but also apply for scholarships. Rolando credits Mr. Bongard who has given him great advice over the years and thanks Mr. Reynolds, former dean of discipline, who always asked how he was doing outside of school.

“After getting my BSN degree, I would like to get my masters at The University of Texas at Austin and travel. Ultimately, I want to come back to Austin to start a family and build a house for my parents. My father is a huge inspiration to me and my mother is always there when I get home; she’s always helping with homework and supporting her children like a mother should. I feel like she does too much sometimes so I would love to give back the support she’s shown me.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ambition Is Contagious

Born in Austin, with a love of playing for the SJD varsity soccer team and DJ-ing, senior Alex is well on his way to making his dream of being an entrepreneur come true. Before coming to San Juan Diego Catholic High School (SJDCHS), Alex graduated from Fulmore Middle School and had attended a charter school his ninth grade year. “I had no freedom there,” Alex says of the previous charter school he attended, “That’s when I found out about the CIP program at SJDCHS. After speaking with my parents they agreed, SJDCHS would be a better fit.”

Upon being accepted into SJDCHS, Alex was placed at Dell and was part of the marketing department. “I scored really well on the typing test Dell gave me, so they decided to put me in charge of selling and editing guides. I was also in charge of transferring them onto the websites for France and Portugal.” Alex attributes the success of his own DJ business to the work experience that he has gained in the marketing department at Dell. Alex has DJed at many of SJDCHS’s dances as well as other events for his family and friends. “I was always into music. I would save up to buy my own equipment and when my parents saw that I was serious about DJing, that’s when they started helping me achieve my dream.”

To realize his dream of one day owning his own business, Alex has applied to The University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas A&M Corpus Christi, where he hopes to study business and eventually get a master's degree. “I want to be my own boss someday; I want to grow my business so that I eventually have employees to run a full scale entertainment company. I’d also like to start recording.”

Alex is very thankful for his time here at SJDCHS and thanks teachers such as Mr. Bongard for motivating him to join the soccer team, and Mr. Speer for motivating him to push himself in school. Alex is a very ambitious young man and has big aspirations for making a name for himself with his career.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

All From A Teacher's Inspiration

This week’s student blog features senior Dorris, who is the eldest in her family and will be the first in her family to attend college. Dorris grew up with her mother, grandparents, and little brother. She has been at San Juan Diego Catholic High School (SJDCHS) since her freshman year. After being accepted into various charter schools in Austin, Dorris ultimately decided that SJDCHS was the best choice for her. “It was a big change, from going to a school with so many students to a small community. I was nervous my first day because I didn’t know anyone, but people quickly showed me they cared and there was just the sense of family once everyone got to know each other,” Dorris says of her first year at SJDCHS.

Dorris’ decision to come to SJDCHS was based on the Corporate Internship Program (CIP). During her time in the program, she has worked at Texas PTA, Dell Children’s Medical Center, and University Medical Center Brackenridge in the HIM (health information management) department. “Working in the Corporate Internship Program has taught me to be more social and helped me with my communication skills. In turn I’ve been able to make public speeches which will help me in my career.”

Before Dorris’ came to SJDCHS her mother didn’t understand why she wanted to go to a Catholic School. However, she began to see her daughter grow at SJDCHS which also caused a big change in her family. Her entire family began going to mass and started to grow more in their Catholic faith. “I believe I led my family to grow more in their faith which in turn helped us become closer as a family.”

Dorris has already been accepted to Sam Houston State University and plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice to become an investigative detective. She attributes her decision to study criminal justice to Mr. Speer, a math teacher at SJDCHS. “I was always naturally good at math. Mr. Speer taught me that there was a lot behind math that most people couldn’t see. He explained to me that math is putting a bunch of variables together, finding the solution and thinking rationally, which is what a detective does.” Dorris has much gratitude for Mr. Speer for pushing her towards her major in college because she now has developed a passion for it. Dorris is also awaiting reply from St. Edward’s University and wants to ultimately work for the CIA or FBI.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Determination Is Key

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing six seniors from San Juan Diego Catholic High School. When interviewing them, I asked them questions such as why they decided to come to SJDCHS and what their plans were after graduation. These students have worked hard and are incredibly determined young individuals. While I was in high school I don’t recall being this ambitious or having such big aspirations for my college career or even after my college career for that matter. However, these students know what they want and are determined to have it for not only themselves, but the ones that have always supported and encouraged them, their families.

The first student I interviewed was senior Andres. Andres has been at SJDCHS since his freshman year and has served on the varsity soccer team all four years. He has also been part of the varsity basketball team for the past two years and is a very polite young adult who has big dreams after he graduates. When speaking with Andres, he spoke of how he was the oldest of five siblings who all look up to him, and how he feels a sense of pride being a role model to his younger siblings.

Andres spoke of how it was ultimately his decision to come to San Juan Diego Catholic High School, “I told my parents about the CIP (corporate internship program) program, and while they were initially a little skeptical about the transportation, they ultimately knew it was a great idea for me to attend.” While in the CIP program, Andres has worked at Dell in the acoustics engineering lab, explaining that he tests hard-drives and exposes them to different frequencies that could potentially damage the hard drive. This is great experience for the career path he wants to pursue - engineering. “The school has helped me want to pursue an engineering degree, thanks to the CIP program and the experience I’ve had at Dell.”

Not only has the CIP program helped him choose his career path, Andres credits his choice of colleges to college counselor Alison Liu. “Ms. Liu has been extremely helpful in assisting with college applications and finding the right schools that fit us,” Andres says about the senior seminar class. The senior seminar class is unique to SJDCHS in that senior students spend the entire fall semester learning about the college application process, scholarship opportunities, and resume writing.

Because of his GPA, Andres has already been accepted to The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas at San Antonio. He is awaiting responses from Rice and Stanford University and hopes to, after graduating from college, travel to California or any major city that has a major engineering need. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

School Spirit

SJD Athletics started off the 2013/2014 school year with some amazing accomplishments. SJD Cross Country qualified for the state competition in October and they did not come back disappointed. Mado, a junior at SJDCHS, placed 11th out of 113 girls, the boys’ team placed 11th out of 23 teams, and the girls’ team placed 9th out of 24 teams. This was such an amazing accomplishment for the SJD Cross Country Team and we could not be more proud. In other athletics news, the boys’ basketball team had their first victory of the season against Sterling Classical School, 70-27!  

When an athletic team comes back with a major victory or accomplishment the entire school knows and is there to support them; the same goes for any individual student. If a student accomplishes something or needs support from his/her fellow students, he/she will receive it. The entire school will be there cheering them on and spreading their great news.

This school spirit and support comes in handy, especially when the SJDCHS seniors are beginning to receive their college acceptance letters. Already several of our students have received their acceptance letters to colleges such as The University of Mary-Hardin Baylor (UMHB), Concordia University, Lamar University and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi (TAMU).  The support from your friends and family can sometimes be under-estimated by the amount of stress that we go through at our busiest times. A simple pat on the back or a few simple words of encouragement can make all the difference. It can remind you that background support, although you may not always notice it, will always be there. 

Remember at this time, during finals, college applications, work struggles, or any bump in life that you may be going through, that you are not in it alone. You can rely on those closest to you for encouragement or even a venting session. Take time to sit and talk with your friends and hear them out, on whatever may be going on in their lives at this moment. Hearing them out can let them know someone cares, and in turn, let you know that you can have someone to turn to when needed.