Before Claudia Perez came to Bishop Machebeuf High School, she lacked a relationship with Christ.
“I knew about the books of the Bibles, the names of the Apostles and where Jesus died,” the 18-year-old graduate described. “But that was it. I didn’t have a spiritual connection. At Machebeuf, I was introduced to Jesus Christ—not just as an idea on a piece of paper, but the person.”
That was one of the most significant changes in Claudia’s life before she graduated from the Catholic school in Denver and began college. She realized that faith is a relationship with an actual person, Jesus.
“I became more excited about religious activities,” Claudia said. “It also gave me the confidence to say, ‘I am a Catholic.’”
Claudia’s gratitude is eternal for those who support Catholic education, and especially her parents, who are the source of her strength and inspiration. They sacrificed much so she could have the opportunity.
Some members of her family came to the United States from Mexico under dangerous circumstances. Her great grandmother was threatened and had to flee with her children to Texas. One of her grandmothers had 11 children, and worked hard with her husband to give them a better opportunity for education.
“My parents inspire me, too, because I know where my family came from—and we’ve come a long way,” she said. “I want to make them proud for their own sacrifices for my education.”
It was a Catholic education she won’t forget. Claudia will also remember the rousing rallies in the gymnasium, competing in track and cross country, joining student council and the National Honor Society. She grew in her love of painting during art club.
“It’s easy to send children to public schools, but at Catholic schools you’re paying for more than an education,” Claudia said. “You’re paying for the experience, the community, the faith formation and memories.”
During her time at the high school, she discovered her life’s passion: to serve others in need.
“I won’t forget my mission trip with Machebeuf to the Philippines,” she shared. “Going there was exciting, but it also validated the fact that I want to dedicate myself to the serve of others. It’s something I grew to love at Machebeuf.”
Claudia was accepted at Colorado State University and plans to join the Peace Corps—a longtime dream of hers.
“It reminds me not to be selfish,” she said. “It’s the most Catholic thing I can do.”
Claudia’s take on service
Q: What motivates you to give to others?
A: It reminds me not to be selfish. I can be selfless and still be happy. I think that it is important to practice focusing on other people and putting yourself second or last, or whatever you need to do to make a difference in the world. It is so gratifying to know that because I sacrificed something, others can improve their life.