May 29, 2012
A Catholic Education
by Cristal Suarez, Class of 2012
Beginning high school, I never realized how great of an impact a Catholic education would have on my life. I’ve since learned to truly appreciate the opportunities I have been given at San Joaquin Memorial and what I have been taught. My Catholic education allowed me to see the importance of path and purpose. Learning should be well-rounded: an education should allow a person to grow in all aspects of who they are. Receiving an extraordinary college preparatory education set me on a path to achieving my goals in life. Receiving a Catholic education instilled purpose into my words and actions, leading me to see the greater importance of what I was learning. Learning to see this purpose is what continues to help me refuse to let my doubts control me in stressful moments. The inspiration of those around me, from teachers to students, has encouraged me on countless occasions during my time at Memorial, and the memories and lessons will remain with me.
Being at Memorial has truly helped me grow in my faith, encouraging me to seek God in good times and in bad, an opportunity I wouldn’t have received at a public school. Particularly during my senior year, my education inspired me to see my role in my community and the world beyond and to respond to it. I have come to see that being a leader doesn't only involve guiding others towards a goal; an incredibly important part of being a leader is a willingness to serve others. Attending Memorial allowed me to more fully dedicate myself to being active in expressing what I believe, and helped me to practice it not only in word, but in deed. I found a community that is a family: the support I received allowed me to grow as a person to believe that we all deserve to be heard and that we all can make a difference, as long as we refuse to let our fears overcome us. What Memorial seeks to teach all its students—despite a diversity of interests, backgrounds, and goals—is the importance of placing purpose to your work and putting effort into seeing your goals become a reality. What I will always value from my Catholic education is how I was inspired to be the best version of myself inside and outside the classroom. God looks into our hearts, I was encouraged to realize, and sees something greater and more beautiful than anything we could see, and the inspiration to recognize who God is calling me to be is what has defined my high school experience.
(Editor’s Note: Cristal is the valedictorian for the Class of 2012 and will decide on May 1 whether she will attend Yale University or Stanford University as a pre-med major.)