Young alumni are sharing how they are succeeding after high school in our #becauseofCJ series. Through your gift to the CJ Annual Fund, you make this happen for all students. As Kate Allaire '20 shares how her experience at CJ helped maintain her faith while attending the University of Cincinnati, please consider joining others today in supporting the mission of CJ — thank you!
"As I finish my first year of college at the University of Cincinnati, I was given the opportunity to reflect on my years at CJ. I attended CJ all four years, following in the footsteps of my two older brothers. I came to CJ with a handful of other students from my grade school, so I knew making friends was going to be a large part of my freshman year. I took to this opportunity with an open mindset and made friends who I knew I would be friends with for a lifetime. I was given the same situation at the University of Cincinnati, coming with a handful of fellow 2020 CJ graduates, but being placed in a much larger pool of people.
I believe that CJ truly taught me that without a strong foundation of what you believe in and what you value, when pressure is applied to who you are at the core, you will crumble. The foundation that CJ allowed me to build as a student is the foundation I will stand strong on for the rest of my life. As I began to meet people and interact with those in my college courses, I felt a lot of my values and morals come into play. Holding on tight to faith and the values as us Catholics hold has been more than essential thus far in my college career. CJ gave me that faith through the teachers I had, the students I interacted with every day, and the numerous religious experiences CJ was able to provide.
It took me until college to be put into a community that is not faith based to realize I have to hold onto my faith more tightly than anything. This goes back to making friends; regardless of what faith we practice, it is important we share the same values. Instead of finding the similarity of sharing the same faith, I looked to find similarities in life experiences at UC as well. I found this mindset and approach to making friends enhancing my own life experiences from my past as well. I think one of the main lessons I learned from CJ was that you learn to embrace what you bring to the table, even if you are the only one bringing that thing. Embracing diversity is essential in any life experience, whether that is diversity in beliefs, education, or race. Throughout my life, I have always tried to fit in with other students or how other people looked, but at the end of the day, CJ really emphasized that it isn’t about fitting in.
While attending CJ and now UC, I have learned to take time to listen to others about their upbringing and culture. It is so valuable to do so because it will not be a lost aspect of their life in this large community of a couple hundred students and thousands of students all with different backgrounds. Being able to have conversations about who others are at their core is another way to connect with people, despite values or religious beliefs. This conversation topic has been one I enjoy when others are comfortable sharing it with me because I learn about them and about a whole new world of culture that I otherwise would never know.
Finding a faith based community was important to me in college and Catholic Bearcats here on campus attend mass at St. Monica’s and engage in activities hosted for students. Catholic Bearcats is an active group that I recommend incoming Bearcats to check out looking to maintain a strong faith in college. I would like to thank all the staff members from CJ who continue to support me and all other graduates in our endeavors. I am forever grateful for the knowledge, life experience, mentors, friends, and faith that CJ gave me."
- Katie Allaire ‘20
--This story was published on April 22, 2021.