#becauseofCJ: Reflection from Amari '17

Young alumni are sharing how they are succeeding after high school in our #becauseofCJ series. Through your gift to the Annual Fund, you make this happen. When you do, more Eagles can soar! Read Amari's story below, and consider making your gift today.

Dear CJ Community,

Reflecting back on my time at CJ, it would be nearly impossible to deny the role that this high school has played in making me the woman I am today. I’ve always been a great student, however, I haven’t always been one to step outside of my shell and take risks that could draw attention to me. Chaminade Julienne helped to change that in tremendous ways.

I entered the halls of CJ in the fall of 2013. I was one of three students coming in from my elementary school. I had been at the same school from grades K-8 so you can only imagine just how alone I believed I would be. I came into this new place as a shy, timid, young girl who had no idea what to expect from my peers and teachers.

I soon learned just how much of a family CJ was. Not only were my peers a group of young adults who showed such an enormous amount of willingness to love and be compassionate to each person they encountered, but the teachers who I was blessed with believed in me more than I believed in my own self at that point in my life. Mr. Eiser, specifically, saw beyond the shell I resorted to and always made sure to push me to my greatest abilities. It was in his classroom that I was beginning to find my own voice and express my thoughts. Teachers like Mr. Eiser, Mrs. Marshall, Mrs. Bardine, Mr. Ricciuto, and so many others provided me with support, listening ears, and genuine care throughout my four years there. They allowed me to find my passions in this world and gave me so many tools in order to thrive within each section.

The wonderful faculty and staff at CJ is one that is not comparable to any other place. Because of CJ, I have an extended family I can always depend on. Recently, I found myself having a slight health issue that was completely sudden and unexpected. At that moment of recovery, the CJ community was there to check in on me, send “Get Well Soon” packages, and showed they cared. This foundation of love and family that CJ has built is one that will last forever and has influenced so many of my decisions including my college and career decisions. Chaminade Julienne has provided me with so much support that I have decided to do the same for future generations and become an educator as well.

CJ has instilled in me a drive to be a leader in this world. If it wasn’t for this school I’m not sure if I would’ve had the courage to push myself into new positions rather than let opportunities pass me by. As a current junior Political Science and English joint major at the illustrious Fisk University, I reside as the VP and Elected President of Go! Poetry, Fisk Political Review Editor, SGA Junior Class Senator, and am continuously adding in more and more ways to contribute to my university and, ultimately, the community at large. These are things that 2013 Amari could’ve only imagined herself doing. Chaminade Julienne isn’t just a high school with phenomenal academics. It is a place that is dedicated to a holistic learning approach. It is a place that will give you lessons to refer back to for life.

CJ gave me the courage to go out and shine the light that I contain. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Amari Smith, Class of 2017

Posted February 17, 2020