Alumni Spotlight: Valentina Lizarazo ’19

Valentina Lizarazo ’19

I remember vividly those first days at DLSA. During orientation, the 8th graders looked after 6th graders, and I remember how sweet and caring they were. It was special to see how people outside my grade cared just as much about me as my classmates. I remember standing in Carson Hall looking around. I said to my new friends, “Let’s go talk to the other people on the other side of the room.” We went up to them and started talking, sharing schedules, getting to know each other, etc. That experience at orientation showed me how much of a community we had even before we started school.

One of my favorite classes was Spanish 4 with Mr. Martinez. It was a really fun class, and definitely challenging. I’m a heritage Spanish speaker, and I was not expecting to be challenged like that! Every single student supported one another. I still have the old group chat on my phone! Mr. Martinez was an amazing teacher. For the final, we had to write an essay, and I remember being very proud of mine. Everything I had learned throughout the school year stuck with me and went into that essay. Good teachers know how to make the material stick.

I also really enjoyed Math Lab with Brother David. Before that class, I thought I didn’t like math. He taught us about encryptions and the Fibonacci Sequence and it was really interesting material. I’m glad I learned it at the time, because now I like math! In fact, I want to pursue computer science and engineering.

Brother Brian, Dr. Gonzalez, and Dr. Tapscott were impactful mentors for me as well. Like all the faculty and staff at DLSA, they supported me not only academically, but personally. I remember one report card night when I was upset about a grade I had received. Dr. G took me aside and told me about his own path with grades as a student at DLSA. It helped me so much to hear that, and made me realize how much the administration really cared about us and was looking out for us.

I often say that without DLSA, I don’t think I would have gotten to the place where I am today, not only academically but in life in general. All of the values that we learned, along with the experiences, have stayed with me, particularly the experience of the 7th Grade Retreat. The retreat was when I started to realize that what I was learning at DLSA was to be the foundation for what I would carry forward. Everyone was so supportive and so caring. That never goes away; it sticks with you long after DLSA.

The summer after 8th grade, I came back to help at DLSA to volunteer in the Development office. I really want to give back to the school, because of everything it had done for me. Being back to help out this summer has been really special. It’s inspiring to see that the students, while their experience has been affected by Covid, are all very close. They found a way to build a community despite how different the school experience has been these last few years.

That foundation of care and responsibility for my community has stayed with me through my time at Packer Collegiate, where I will be a senior this year. When someone from DLSA enters Packer, I always get in touch with them and try to be a resource.  Also, I’m going to be the Student Council President this year, and look forward to finding ways to support the community of students.

At DLSA, I learned that every single person is an individual and deserves to pursue, and be celebrated for, their individualism. DLSA gives you the tools and empowers you to create your own path. They gave me the resources to work through things, and were always there if I needed them. I think it was that balance of support and independence that brought me to where I am. I am grateful, and will never forget the time I spent here.

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