In Their Own Words...

Below are reflections from individuals whose lives have been changed thanks to Nativity Schools. Click here to read more about how Nativity Schools are working to help students and continue to accompany them even after graduation. 

Melissa Gomez 

Brooklyn Jesuit Prep • Class of 2011

Melissa Gomez graduated from Brooklyn Jesuit Prep in 2011, going on to attend Dominican Academy in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She is currently studying mechanical engineering at the University of Rochester, and spends summers working at BJP’s summer camp, held annually at Fairfield University.

Making the decision to go to Dominican Academy was a tough one. I would be the first and only student from Brooklyn Jesuit Prep to attend the high school that year. I was a very shy student and I worried what my social life would be like in high school. The tuition would be too high for my family to afford all of it, but it was a great opportunity for me and I was eager to attend. Thankfully, BJP committed to paying part of my tuition, and to ease some of my doubts, I remember the principal of BJP at the time, Mr. Russo, pulling me aside and talking to me one-on-one to reassure me. I listened to him and ended up attending and succeeding.

In the beginning of my senior year there, I had almost no clue of what to do when it came to college. I wasn’t familiar with the college process and hadn’t visited many schools. Ms. Marie, the head of the BJP grad support program, helped me make a list of different colleges that I might be interested in. She then told me to list the things that were important to me and to narrow down the list. At the end of the process, I was interested in about eight schools. After receiving my acceptance letters, BJP helped me assess my financial aid packages and made sure I picked the one that worked for me and my family.

As a counselor at BJP’s summer camp at Fairfield University, I’ve had the chance to serve as a role model and a confidant to current students. This has been a great first job for me, and I’ve been able to encourage the students, mostly the older ones, to act as leaders and not followers. Great bonds have been formed among campers in our groups. I am happy to go back this year and work with them again.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized the importance of guidance and the value of mentors who have kept me on the right path. I think the services provided by BJP—specifically the graduate support services—are helpful because so many students come from low-income families, with parents who are busy working so hard to provide a better future, and who do not necessarily understand the college process.

I hope that one day I am successful enough to give back to BJP for the many things the school has done for me, whether it be by donating money or continuing to be a mentor for current students.

Blanca Daviau 

Nativity School of Worcester • Parent, Class of 2012

Blanca Daviau is the mother of Christopher Daviau, a member of Nativity School of Worcester’s Campion Class of 2012. Christopher is a recent graduate of Bancroft School who is set to attend the College of the Holy Cross this fall.

I brought my son Chris to Nativity School of Worcester with the hope that he would receive a great education in a safe environment, which would open doors for his future. While Nativity provided Chris with a great foundation for his educational career, what I didn’t realize is that it wasn’t just an education inside a classroom— it went beyond that.

Chris was accepted into the Campion graduating class of 2012 and became a part of a family and community. This school became home; teachers became mentors, protectors and role models—some even second mothers. The students weren’t just classmates or friends; they became his brothers, practically living with us. Nativity moms even became each other’s support system.

Outside of the classroom, Chris learned how to give back to the community, preparing meals for shelters, visiting the veterans, and volunteering at local charities, which opened his eyes to the less fortunate, a world outside of video games and sports.

His first year here, Chris begged to transfer out, but I made him see the year through. And by eighth grade, the little boy who did not want new friends and was too quiet in the classroom had grown into a young man who developed lifelong relationships and gained so much confidence.

With the guidance of everyone at Nativity, Chris was accepted to several great schools—among them, Bancroft, which he had his heart set on and worked very hard for. In addition, Christopher received the City Scholars Award.

All that he learned while he was a Nativity student is still within him. This is not just one story but the story of so many young boys who have walked through those school doors with their families.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Our village is called Nativity!

Luis Paez 

St. Ignatius School, Bronx, N.Y. • Class of 2005

Luis Paez, a 2005 graduate from St. Ignatius School in Harlem, spoke at the school’s 20th Anniversary Scholarship Benefit in May 2016, sharing the impact of his St. Ignatius education.

Photo courtesy of Joann Cancro
How do I, in this small window of opportunity, encapsulate the impact St. Ignatius had on my life? It goes without saying St. Ignatius is located in a rough section of the South Bronx, notorious for its alarming rates of poverty and crime. Hunts Point is an unstable community devoid of much educational opportunity. Though these facts are hard to swallow, they should not dampen the mood. Rather, they should serve as reminders to just how important St. Ignatius is to its students and the Hunts Point community as a whole.

Like all of my fellow brothers in the class of 2005, I was raised in Hunts Point, and like all my fellow graduates, I was fascinated by St. Ignatius’ embracive, inviting and warm atmosphere.

The teachers and administration didn’t just know your name—they knew your mother’s name, they knew each of your siblings’ names, and might even show up to your front door, as they also knew your address. In my eyes, these were individuals who introduced us to the world outside of Hunts Point. I felt special knowing there existed a group of people committed to my future, adults I barely knew, working to create more opportunities in my life. In seeing how invested others were in my life, the door opened for academic success.

Since 1996, St. Ignatius has fostered an affinity for learning and annually produces students equipped to succeed at the high school and college levels. St. Ignatius is not an experiment but an academic institution capable of transforming the neighborhood’s brightest residents into critical thinkers, dedicated scholars and men and women for others.

Upon graduating from St. Ignatius, I went on to complete four years at Xavier High School, but never did I lose the support of my family at St. Ignatius. Through the graduate support program, I was able to enroll in SAT courses, attend college visits, but, most importantly, I continued to strive for more.

In 2009, I graduated from Xavier and received the Posse Foundation’s award of a four-year, full tuition scholarship to attend DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. At DePauw, a liberal arts college with a population of 2,300 students, I thrived in the small classroom setting and remained steadfast in my commitment to graduate, which I did, in May 2013.

Luis joined the staff at St. Ignatius School this August. Coming full circle from student, to active alum, to staff member, Luis will work with the Graduate Support Program and Advancement Office.

New Appointments and Leadership
The Fr. Daniel J. Berrigan, SJ, Jesuit Peacemaking Fund

Society Welcomes New Jesuit Priests
Martin Scorsese Joins Fr. James Martin, SJ, as Jesuits Gather for Province Day

A Spirituality of Accompaniment
When Words Fail Grace Abounds

Walking with Nativity Students
Immersing in the Gritty Reality of the World

Releasing Hearts from Behind Bars
Excitement builds for GC-36

The Pilgrimage
Jesuit GALA Honors Gloria and Chuck Clough

Praying Through the Passion at Calvary

Eastern Point Retreat House
Eastern Point Retreat House, a grand house located on the Atlantic shore in Gloucester, Mass., has been welcoming retreatants since 1958.