In 1995, when I first walked into De La Salle Academy (DLSA) for sixth grade orientation, I was so nervous. I was a naturally quiet and introverted kid so the thought of having to meet a whole bunch of new classmates and teachers overwhelmed me. Furthermore, that summer before I started at DLSA, my family moved to a different neighborhood in the Bronx so I didn’t have the sense of security that being around my friends from my old school and neighborhood would have normally brought me. Everything was rapidly changing and I was no longer in my comfort zone. Despite my fears, I somehow had an awareness (spiritual intuition, perhaps?) that I would be okay, and DLSA was where I was meant to be. So on that first day of sixth grade orientation, I waved goodbye to my mom and marched forward.
The foundation of my educational and career trajectory began at DLSA. From DLSA, I went on to Fieldston High School, then to Williams College, and finally to Yale School of Management. My middle school years weren’t perfect. I had my ups and downs, but when I look back on those times, I wouldn’t change it for the world. The power of DLSA is its captivating sense of community and family. The love and kindness that Brother Brian, my teachers, and classmates showed me, gave me the space to grow and learn about who I was and about my potential. For example, the eighth grade social justice class and the volunteer project helped to instill in me my own commitment to social justice and equity. Because of those experiences, I have chosen a career that gives me a sense of purpose and contributes to making the world more equitable.
Over the past 22 years, no matter what, I’ve always returned to DLSA, whether as an employee, a volunteer, a donor, or as a friend “just stopping by.” And every time, I’m welcomed with open arms from the staff and current students. Brother Brian always introduces alumni to current students as “your big sister/brother” and it may sound very cutesy, but it’s real. We are a family. The DLSA family is there when you need career advice, networking opportunities, a bear hug, a shoulder to cry on, or just a good laugh.
I am grateful for all the opportunities afforded to me by DLSA, and for Brother Brian and all the teachers that believed in me and pushed me every day. And I’m grateful for the wonderful DLSA friendships that continue to flourish to this day.