We had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Arrupe Jesuit alumna, Alejandra Luna (2007). She shared with us the challenges she faced when deciding to transfer to Arrupe, her experience of being part of the first graduating class and how the school ultimately shaped her life, her decision to move out of state for college, and how she is now supervising several Arrupe students with her employer.
Q: Tell us how you became part of the first class at Arrupe?
Alejandra: I grew up in North Denver my whole life and went to Skinner Middle School. I actually went to North High School for a couple of weeks before I transferred to Arrupe. I was a few weeks into North High School, and wasn't having a good experience, when a friend from middle school told me about Arrupe and gave me a brochure. I remember calling and speaking with someone at the school. They initially told me that they were not accepting any more students, but I persisted and explained my situation, shared that I really wanted to attend Arrupe, and ended up going through the process and getting accepted; the rest is history!
Q: What was the reaction from your parents when you told them about transferring to Arrupe?
Alejandra: All of my other siblings went to public school so this was a new experience for my family. At the beginning, my family was a bit hesitant and honestly, as a fourteen year old, I really didn't know everything about how the school worked either, but I was determined to make it work. Shortly after, I was able to convince them that we had nothing to lose and it all worked out.
Q: Tell us a bit about your experience transitioning from Arrupe to college?
Alejandra: I knew I wanted to go to college out of state. I was fortunate enough to receive the Daniels scholarship which meant that I was able to go to any school that I was accepted to. So, I chose Mount St. Mary's in California and I studied Business Administration with an emphasis in Management. I do remember, before receiving scholarship decisions, feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. I went to Joanne Augustine's office, Arrupe’s college counselor at that time, and I told her that I wanted her to just sign me up at a local community college because I felt like that would be the best that I could do; I remember thinking that I didn't know why we were even entertaining other options. She told me that it was still early in the process and that I should believe in myself and have a little faith.
So, we waited and I ended up getting the Daniels Scholarship; it was a very surreal moment and something that, up until that moment, I would have never imagined was possible.
Q: How do you think Arrupe shaped your life?
Alejandra: Arrupe had a big role when it came to positive changes in my life. My parents in the beginning didn't want me to go out of state for college as it was a new experience for them and there were a bunch of unknowns. Joanne Augustine actually took the time and put in the effort to talk to them and helped them get comfortable with this big change. Having that support was really, really instrumental for my family, because nobody had done it before.
Q: What are you up to now and how has it been supervising Arrupe students?
Alejandra: About three years ago, I found Ready Foods and have been working in the Human Resources Department and love it. There are currently sixteen Arrupe students working here through the Corporate Work Study Program.
I really love working with the Arrupe students at Ready Foods because I see my younger self in them. The seniors are really nervous about applying for college so I help them with random stuff like looking over their essays. I see their struggles and their challenges and I'm able to relate. I’m able to give encouragement and really give them guidance when they need it.