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This post was originally published on the ResponsiveEd Newsroom.

Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville (Class of 2017)

Founders Classical Academies (FCA) seeks to provide an excellent and distinctively classical education that pursues knowledge, promotes virtue, and prepares students for prosperous lives in a free society. For Gillian De La Cruz, Founders was also a place to make lifelong connections. “Some of my best friends are people I met at FCA Lewisville,” says Gillian. “These are the people that I trust, that I always come back to, and that I invite to family functions. I have a lot of love for them and what they’ve done in my life.”

Gillian with the rest of the 2018 University of Dallas volleyball team.

Although Founders facilitated friendship for Gillian, it also provided opportunities for independence. Teenagers wait years to become independent and college can be a big step for some. Now entering her junior year at theUniversity of Dallas (UD), Gillian has found herself while being involved in extracurriculars. “I play volleyball for the school, in addition to being the president of Campus Based for Family Life at UD and being a member of the Asian Student Association, Crusaders for Kids, and Pre-Health Society,” says Gillian. “It takes a lot of time management and efficiency to get my schoolwork done and uphold all of my commitments. That’s helped me grow a lot.”

In addition to keeping herself busy outside of the classroom, Gillian is dedicated to pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology with a pre-med track. If that doesn’t sound impressive enough, she also has taken up concentrations in Italian language studies and biopsychology. “As medical school applications draw nearer, I’m focusing on medical schools that rank high in one or both of two fields, namely trauma surgery and neuroscience.” Gillian goes on to say, “The two long-term career goals that I really have are to open up a clinic in a third-world country and to start my own private practice.”

Gillian visits Milan to reconnect with former Founders Classical Academy exchange student and friend Sara.

During her most recent semester, Gillian studied abroad and even had the opportunity to visit a couple of exchange students who attended Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville. While she loves to travel, she also enjoys music and even wrote a song for a class in a summer program with UD.

“I love the personal growth that comes with having to be independent,” says Gillian. “College is the time to learn and to grow as an individual, and it’s been a truly fruitful experience.” She credits many teachers at Founders for being instrumental in her personal and intellectual growth.

“Mr. Rogers helped me foster an appreciation and passion for leadership; both Mr. and Mrs. Fast pushed me to pursue wisdom and truth with greater zeal; Mr. Postell reminded me of the importance and impact of rhetoric; Mr. Brogden reignited my passion for the sciences; Ms. Balan inspired me to always be genuine; and all of my coaches both in volleyball and basketball every single season created an environment wherein I could become a better leader.“ Gillian says, “My coaches are among my greatest blessings. Of course, they all pushed me to be a better athlete, but they were instrumental in making sure I took care of myself mentally as well.”

The family of Gillian join her in celebrating graduation.

When asked if she has any advice for students graduating high school, she says to cherish every moment. “Things change after you graduate; sometimes, it’s little by little, but sometimes, it’s all at once,” says Gillian. “There are things you won’t miss about high school (that’s normal), but there are also experiences you get in high school that are once-in-a-lifetime. Cherish your friends, cherish your family, and cherish every beautiful moment.”

The saying ‘use your mistakes to build stairs, not walls’ is something that Gillian reminds herself as she continues to follow her dreams. “Everyone around you will be making mistakes; that’s life,” Gillian insists. “The important thing is to not let those mistakes be a reason you wall yourself in and refrain from ever putting yourself out there and just trying. Learn gracefully from your mistakes. That’s how you grow.”

For more information about the ResponsiveEd Alumni Network, please visit www.responsiveed.com/alumni/.

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