Please tell us a little bit about your journey since graduating from Blessed Sacrament.
I continued with my Catholic education after graduating from Blessed Sacrament - I graduated from Cornelia Connelly School (an all girls Catholic High School) in 2013 and then from Loyola Marymount University (a Jesuit college) in 2015. I received a bachelor’s degree in history from Loyola Marymount University and continued on to University of Southern California for graduate school where I received a Master of Public Health in 2017. It’s been a wonderful journey thus far - I’ve met so many new friends, learned so much, and discovered my passion. My passion for creating a more accessible and effective healthcare system started with my volunteering experiences beginning at Blessed Sacrament School. Our visits to homeless shelters and service hour requirements exposed me to the need for more adequate medical services, especially for the most vulnerable in our society. Since then I’ve traveled to three countries (Nicaragua, Panama, and Vietnam) on public health projects and continue to work in the field here in the US. I hope to continue making a difference and to meet people along the way who can help create a better tomorrow.
What are you up to currently?
I have been working part time for a couple companies as I finish up my Master of Public Health. I work on implementing a diabetes and cardiovascular disease management program in the San Gabriel Valley by creating classes, teaching materials, and conducting outreach. I am also an operations analyst for a retail medicine company seeking to expand into telehealth and convenient care clinics in Southern California. In my free time I teach nutrition classes to children living with their mothers at domestic violence shelters and coordinate operations at Project Vietnam Foundation (which provides health services for the poor and disabled in Vietnam). I recently got accepted to Johns Hopkins University for their Master in Health Management program, so I will be moving to Baltimore in the fall to pursue my second master’s degree in the fall. I would like to gain the technical skills necessary to execute the concepts I learned about in my public health program.
What are some of your favorite memories from your time here as a student?
I was highly involved in Decathlon and was fiercely competitive, so I look back on our marathon study sessions and fun times traveling with fondness. Few moments could compare to the thrilling satisfaction of hoisting the first place trophy in the air after all the sweat and tears that we put in. Additionally, planning for events as a part of ASB, going out for field trips/retreats, and just hanging out with friends during recess and lunch made my BSS experience something positive to remember. Finally, remembering some of my teachers at BSS still brings a smile to my face - Mr. John Cone (math and science) was one of my favorites as he never hesitated to spend some time conversing with me, Mrs. Lori Stanley (my decathlon coach) was a never-ending source of stimulating conversation, and Mrs. Pitoniak (math and computers) put up with my obsession of earning more objectives within the Accelerated Math program.
In what way would you say it helped prepare you for your experiences since?
Even after all the theology classes I have taken (including those at the university level), I could confidently say that no professor could match the depth of knowledge and the passion of Mr. Seibert (my 8th grade homeroom teacher) for instilling the pillars of Catholicism into the hearts and minds of students. There were many moments in high school and college when I found myself lost and on the verge of despair. My faith was the one anchor that held me in those dark times and I am forever grateful that Blessed Sacrament School allowed me to build that anchor. Even little things such as saying grace before meals, praying the Angelus at noon, and praying in the morning established routine that allowed my faith to grow. As the saying goes: out of mind, out of sight. Blessed Sacrament School made sure to keep Christ in the minds of every student, so that eventually we could develop a relationship with Christ. Besides nurturing my faith, Blessed Sacrament School also gave me the confidence to succeed. With the small class sizes and individualized attention that teachers could give in such an environment, I received an extraordinary amount of support and encouragement. That background made me more willing to take the initiative to spearhead a multitude of projects later on in life. BSS also disciplined me to the point that I could discipline myself. My seventh grade homeroom teacher, Mr. Spincola, told my class something that I will never forget: “You cannot master anything until you can master yourself.” The strict dress codes, behavior codes, and the expectation to be accountable for your actions made me a person capable of handling the responsibilities that have come my way.
Would you like to offer any advice to current students?
Yes - my advice would be to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way (especially at this stage in life)! Life is too short to be filled with regrets, and pushing your limits will only lead you to discover how much more you are capable of accomplishing. Stepping out of your comfort zone is always difficult but every success or failure is a lesson that will make you a better (and more capable) person. Also, never forget to pray! When you can’t see any hope in your situation, place your hope in God for with God all things are possible. One passage of the Bible especially has comforted me and given me strength: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 29-30).”
*Please note: this interview was conducted in June of 2017.