Going forward with confidence

Senior year is filled with stress and amazing memories. We will never forget all the work we went through during the college application process or staying up late to finish that 10-page seminar paper. However, those are not the only things we will carry with us in our lives. I will never forget the senior rafting trip, Grad Night at Disneyland, our senior nights, my ring sister hiding in my room because it was study hours, or all of the adventures I have had with my best friends.

The past two years at Catalina have been undoubtedly the best and most important years of my life. It’s bittersweet to think it's all coming to an end. I know that after I receive my diploma, nothing will ever be the same … and that’s pretty scary.

When I first arrived at Catalina, I was shy and timid, and although I was excited, I could not help but feel nervous. I have a close-knit family who are always very present in my life. I was a bit nervous to leave them, as I knew there would be no more coming home after a bad day and complaining to my parents or asking them for help on homework. Even though I was super excited about coming to Catalina because I had heard nothing but the best from alumnae I knew, I think I was nervous about being completely independent. Furthermore, I think that when I first arrived at Catalina, I was sort of aware of my strengths and what I was best at, but I had not fully developed them or knew how to use them.

Fast-forward two years and I have flourished and grown as a person at Catalina in more ways than one. With the help of my teachers and the administration, I have been able to utilize all of my strengths and definitely push my comfort zone. I identify my strengths in communications—meaning writing and connecting with people. Two years ago, if someone were to tell me that I would be giving tours in Spanish and in English, speaking on panels as well as doing public speaking in general, or even running my own blog, I would have said they were crazy! My two years at Catalina have taught me lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and now I can honestly say that I am more confident in myself and my abilities, more independent and poised, and most of all, ready to face whatever comes next.

Today, after four years of high school, two of which were spent at Catalina, I am confident in who I am and I am strong in my values—compassion, fun, optimism, love, faith, and kindness. My philosophy about life is best summarized with a quote from Mother Teresa: “Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” My approach to life is simply that: making everyone who I meet smile, feel happy, feel blessed.

Throughout my high school career, I was fortunate enough to participate in a club called Kino Teens. Kino Teens is a group of students who work to raise awareness about migrant issues on the U.S./Mexico border; we seek to promote social justice and we believe that—regardless of one’s political passions—there should be more grace for all in the border crossing system. This helped me realize what my goal in life is: to bring more grace and kindness to the world and create a community where one’s human dignity will never be disregarded under any circumstances. I want to combine my interests of communications and immigration as well as border issues to work in the field of journalism, where I can shed light on contemporary social issues and work to unveil the truth. By reporting with integrity, I hope to change the lives of those who suffer, including migrants and the poor.

Next year, I am thrilled to say I will be attending the University of San Diego (USD), where I plan to keep working toward my mission. As I previously mentioned, I am interested in writing, immigration, and border issues, and I look forward to exploring these subjects in college to find a career path that suits me. I have chosen to attend USD because they are looking “to set the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges.” This speaks to me immensely, and I cannot wait to join their changemaking community in the fall.

Catalina has shaped me into the person I am today. It has provided me with amazing opportunities that have allowed me to explore my passions and strengths and taught me how to use them on a daily basis. Some of the most important life skills I have learned are public speaking, independence, responsibility, and how to take charge. I think what I’ll miss most about Catalina is living with my best friends. I know that the friends I have made here are my sisters for life, but it will never be the same. I know that I will never be able to just walk into my best friends’ rooms at whatever given time, pull an all-nighter with my friends, or spend literally 24/7 with them. The bonds you create at Catalina with these girls are something so unique to this school; it is not a bond you can replicate just anywhere. The bonds you create here surpass friendship; they become sisterhoods. These bonds are what I am most grateful for, and Catalina has given me new sisters that have taught me so much and brighten up my life on a daily basis.

I do not think I am the most qualified person to be giving advice, but here are a few words I want to leave you with. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is do not stress so much; don’t sweat the small stuff. Senior year is going to be stressful: You will have to go through the college application process and the teachers will not lighten the load. However, you cannot let the stress dictate your senior year. Time passes by so quickly, you’ll blink and it will be graduation. Make sure you enjoy every second of your time here at Catalina. At the end of the day, no one is going to remember if you did badly on that one test, but what they will remember is how you made them feel.

I am extremely grateful to all my teachers, mentors, and the administration for their constant help and support. Although I am still kind of scared about what comes next, I know I am ready for the next chapter of my life thanks to Catalina.