Not Just Academics

Gabriella Accardi

In thinking about the past four years, I have been astonished by everything I have learned. While I learned much in my classes, Ignatius taught me more than academics. I have always been driven in my studies, but Ignatius made me rethink my habits. It taught me that I can’t learn if I just memorize. I have to understand, contemplate, and savor the information that I must learn. Everything has a purpose and a point, even if it doesn’t seem that way. I have grown more curious, in understanding and independence, because I chose to learn this way. You could say that I have become intellectually competent. Just like many of you, this is something that I will use for the rest of my life.

During the past four years, I came to the realization that all anyone can ask for is your best. I have given my best in everything I have done at Ignatius, whether it be in my classes, extracurriculars, or friendships. In doing so, I have gained confidence and pride in my choices and the good that they have brought me. I lost the fear of rejection and replaced it with determination and perseverance. This was something that I was unable to do in grammar school. Like we have all heard before, we have to be open to growth. I believe that to be open to growth, we have to give our best everyday. We have to reflect on our faults and failures and know that tomorrow we can try again. We have to be confident and determined enough to accept that we still need to grow and that we will make mistakes. This openness is something that is special to Ignatius. It is something that we have all learned because we have walked its halls. I know that long after I have left Ignatius, I will still be open and giving my best in everything I do.

While these things helped me to grow into a confident person, Ignatius taught me to be giving, loving, and self-reflecting. These three things are the most important skills that I have ever learned. Ignatius taught me to love through action, especially through giving back and helping those in need. It helped me shed my fears and take the needed step outside of my comfort zone to purely serve. It cultivated my sympathetic heart, which relied on my determined and curious mind to find concrete ways to serve. Being a Roman Catholic, service is one of our pillars of faith. My faith has grown at Ignatius because I have learned that “it is in giving that we receive.” In service, I have grown to love everyone, no matter their circumstances. I see them like I see all of you as my sisters and brothers in Christ. Learning prayers like the Examen and Ignatian Contemplation helped me look at my life, my work, and my relationship with God in new ways. They also reminded me of all the good I have done along with the bad, and they showed me what I need to change and how to do so.

All of these lessons have made me grow up and blossom into the person I am today. They have taught me to be loving, persevering, intelligent, and confident. They have prepared me for college, for adulthood, and for the rest of my life. They are something that only Ignatius could have taught me because of the atmosphere and people who walked beside me.

Gabriella Accardi in Beauty and the Beast. (Luke Hales)