I trudged up the seemingly endless staircase, reaching the top blue floor, with my mother following closely behind. I was so nervous for my interview. Is this the school I wanted to go to? I remember going over some questions that I might be asked with my mother, at home and on the train ride over. My two hard-working immigrant parents just wanted us to get the best education so we could have opportunities to grow and be our best selves. As my mom helped me prepare in our native Polish, I helped her perfect some of her English sentenses. I was incredibly shy and did not open up much when I first met new people, but I knew I had to try my best. I met with Mr. Carrero and Ms. Galvin and all I remember is that I left in tears because I was so nervous and didn’t think I had “passed” the interview. Low and behold, on my birthday I got a letter in the mail congratulating me on my acceptance. I had never been happier.
All three years, I looked forward to taking the train ride from the north Bronx to 97th street with my friends and back home- a ride that never seemed too long with them around. There would be a group of us who met most mornings, but also met every afternoon. We would wait for each other if we had clean-up or went to speak to a teacher after classes were over. And those teachers truly were more than teachers; they were mentors and pushed us to be the best versions of ourselves, more than just academically. Brother David, Ms. Obregon and Mr. Tapscott cultivated my love of math, Mr. Hipolito inspired me to continue loving languages and taught me the Spanish that I still use today at work, Mr. Greene and Ms. Galvin taught me to analyze literature which has stayed with me.
Not only did De La Salle prepare me for the rigorous academics I would encounter for the rest of my academic life at Marymount, Boston College and then the NYU Occupational Therapy graduate program, but we also learned arguably more important lessons, from shaping our moral compass to understanding how to involve ourselves in social justice and how to treat those in our local and global communities. We discussed these things in class, before and after school hours, during retreats and even during our activities time. I look back fondly on the countless memories made in De La Salle that have truly helped shape me into the person I am today. Not only did I grow into a more confident person, but I also made friends that I will cherish forever. Brother Brian told us at orientation, “look around you. These are your brothers and sisters. And some of them will be at your side on your wedding day.” What a true statement!
At the first report card night, I remember all of my teachers looking at my mother’s very pregnant belly. I shared pictures with the teachers and my classmates of my “cute little baby brother,” who ended up walking up a slightly different set of stairs 11 years after me- at the 42nd street location. Some of those teachers who saw my mother’s belly ended up teaching my brother! Oh how excited I was to hear about his day at De La Salle, the jokes Mr. Hip made that I had heard 11 years prior, the books he was reading and the new clubs that were forming. Despite being in a different building, the character and spirit of De La Salle has stayed in the community. I always look forward to the reunions, events and volunteer opportunities I can attend, to give back to the second home that gave me so much and see my DLSA family. I will forever be grateful for De La Salle and my De La Salle family.