Alumni Spotlight: Eilleen Ingram-Willis ’93

Eilleen Ingram-Willis, ’93

I am from Brooklyn and was one of the four incoming 6th grade students who made the journey from East Flatbush to De La Salle Academy (DLSA) in the fall of 1990.  My life would forever be changed.  Not satisfied with the options for local middle schools in my neighborhood, my parents made the ultimate decision to send me to DLSA with hopes that I would benefit from a strong academic environment.  I cannot thank them enough for this decision since DLSA became the gateway to my educational achievement and set the foundation for my personal growth and awareness for others.

DLSA has always maintained high expectations for its students.  I have fond memories of taking my first Spanish class with Mr. Hipolito and having math classes with Brother David.  It was common for us to experience a rigorous day of classes and then have hours of homework to complete after school.  We learned at an early age that being organized and responsible was vital to succeed in school and in life.  Socially, I remember jumping Double Dutch during recess outside and playing soccer on Fridays in Central Park which created more opportunities to interact with my classmates and teachers on a more personal level. 

Looking back to my time at DLSA, the small school size and racial and ethnic diversity of the school community also made it a unique learning environment that has impacted my life.  I became friends with students from different parts of NYC, and some of my closest friends shared common experiences as first-generation children whose parents had immigrated to this country to obtain better life opportunities for their families.  DLSA acknowledges and supports the diversity of the school community and the importance of showing respect for others.  The small school environment allowed us to meet and interact in a safe space where we could also share our differences and connect with each other daily.

Finally, DLSA taught me the importance of selflessness and being concerned for the well-being of others.  While I was a student at the school, I was paired with another classmate to purchase and deliver groceries a few times a month to a home-bound senior as part of a community service project at the school.  It made us think more about the vulnerable population who lived near the school and our responsibility to help others.  This value resonates with me as I think about the importance of keeping our communities safe and our individual decisions for handling the social, economic and health issues that we face globally today.  We all play a role for the greater good of our communities, now more than ever.

After graduating from DLSA, I went to Loomis Chaffee, a private boarding school in Connecticut, and then later to the University of Pennsylvania where I obtained my BA cum laude in Urban Studies with a minor in Sociology.   Afterwards, I graduated from Rutgers Law School and have been practicing in the public interest and government sectors throughout my professional career.  DLSA’s values remain close with me as I continue to find ways to contribute and positively impact my local community and work to inspire my children to do the same.

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