I attended CEA for pre-primary through 8th grade and St. Brendan for high school. After earning a business degree at UF and several years of working in the business world (and some freelance work in the arts), I decided to change my career path to pursue my interest in science and my passion for environmental protection and sustainability. I went back to school starting in my late 20s, and I earned a master’s degree at FIU and then a PhD at UF. Currently, I work as an environmental consultant/analyst focusing on water quality and water resource issues in Florida. My job is highly quantitative (coding and working with data and models) and also requires creative problem-solving, so I’m grateful for the well-rounded foundation that CEA provided.
CEA exposed me to so many different things–academics, art, music, sports. The math and science education at CEA was superb; it inspired my curiosity, prepared me well for high school, and ultimately gave me a solid basis for my career as an environmental scientist. And the arts program was equally important to me. I fondly remember Laura Luna’s after-school art classes, where we not only painted and made ceramics but also philosophized about what’s important in life. My connections to Ms. Luna and my friends in the art classes formed the basis of values that I still hold today.
I’ve spent a lot of time in school–both studying and teaching–and I’ve met a lot of different types of students. Some have always known what they wanted to be, and others–like me–had to try different things before figuring it out. While it would be easy to envy those who always had a clear goal, I like that I ended up taking a winding path. I got to try a lot of different things; some I liked more than others, and some I didn’t like at all. But this experience has made my life richer, and I wouldn’t change it. My advice to today’s Conchita kids is to try a little bit of everything, even things you don’t think you’ll enjoy very much–I wish I’d taken piano lessons when my parents encouraged it. When you find something you really like, keep it up. Don’t worry too much if other people don’t get it or if they call you a nerd; look for people who do get it (other kids and adults, too) and learn from people who are already doing what you want to do.
Class of 1996
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