As far as student success goes, one student in the south Bronx has captivated a wider audience than he thought he ever would at his age.
Seventeen-year-old Jhon de la Cruz came to the United States from Dominican Republic when he was 9 years old. He’s lived in three different states and changed high schools twice.
Family members, peers, and teachers alike have always noticed Jhon’s determination for academic and social excellence.
De la Cruz is president of his school’s Latino Society, a member of the Student Government, and worked as an intern at the Student Conservation Association, as a volunteer English teacher in the Dominican Republic, and for the Fast Track Program at Goldman Sachs, just to name a few of his accomplishments.
Now a senior at the Cardinal Hayes High School, the teen is turning heads in the Catholic community, being one of three students ever to have their work published in The Cathedra, a prestigious publication produced by St. Patrick’s Cathedral and distributed to the faith community.
“At the time I was very overwhelmed because I was doing early decision college applications,” said de la Cruz. “So I was like ‘oh man now I have this other thing to do so this is going to be a lot of work.’”
The essay published in The Cathedra titled ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe: Symbol of Love and Faith’ focused on Our Lady of Guadalupe, a well-known religious figure for Catholics in Latin America.
Submissions for The Cathedra were opened to Catholic high schools throughout the city by invitation.
“There were two topics I remember, one was about St. Patrick Hayes or Cardinal Hayes himself, I can’t remember exactly, but the other one was about Our Lady of Guadalupe,” recalled de la Cruz.
“My parents came to mind when I had to choose and it had major connection with me, but I didn’t expect so much from [writing] it.”
Since the piece was published, de la Cruz said he has received much praise from his family and the school community.
“One morning I came into school and I spoke with our principal’s secretary, Ms. Espinosa and the first thing she said was ‘Thank you for writing the article and for getting it published,’” de la Cruz explained. “She was telling me how important it was to her and the influence it had on her and people around her.”
De la Cruz’s parents were especially happy and supportive of his recent accomplishment.
“I had one of the original copies and I took it back home and I gave it to my mom and she was like I finally got what I deserved.”
Through all his accomplishments, de la Cruz wants fellow Bronxites and Latinos to always strive for excellence and find someone who supports you.
“It may seem hard to accomplish most top things such as getting into top tier schools, as I’m trying to. Such as getting an article published in a magazine of this caliber,” said de la Cruz. “Those are very hard things but it’s worth trying and giving things a chance because there are so many things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I told myself, ‘I can’t do this.’”