Ashly was nine years old, and in the fourth grade at Immaculate Conception School (ICS), when she, her older sister, and her mother went on a girls’ vacation out of the country. What Ashly thought was a time to relax and have fun with her mom took a drastic turn. An unexpected illness required her mother to stay and receive medical care and the girls were sent home to the United States without her. It would be years before their mother would be able to return. “My family went through a hard time during those years my mom was gone but ICS was there for us all the way,” said Ashly. “They helped us financially and emotionally. One of the teachers there [at ICS] really helped us. She would take time out of her day to take my sister and me out to eat or on hiking trips. But overall I am most grateful that ICS helped us financially. They helped me receive scholarships and they took their time to make my living situation better.”
Ashly’s parents first sent her and her sister to attend Immaculate Conception School when Ashly was in the first grade. The neighborhood in which they lived was too dangerous for the children to play outdoors and the local schools did not provide the education or safety the family needed for their daughters. A family friend told them about the quality education offered at ICS. Ashly and her sister struggled at first but soon watched their academics soar. Things seemed to be going well for the family until Ashly’s mother fell to an illness that prevented her from traveling back with her family for three years. Ashly’s father took on a second job to cover all of the expenses, but still struggled to make ends meet, and needed community support to help him care for his children during this time. Through collaboration with grantors, and people in our community who donated, Immaculate Conception School was able to provide the tuition assistance needed to the family. In addition, the staff worked to ensure Ashly and her family were given the community support needed during their time of grief and uncertainty.
Thankfully, Ashly’s mom was able to return to the United States and was reunited with her husband and daughters last year. This June Ashly graduated the eighth grade and will be starting the ninth grade at a Catholic high school in the fall of 2017. She is also looking forward to giving back to the others in need. “I am very thankful that my parents chose to send me to ICS, because if not, I would not be where I am today,” Ashly shared. “In the future I want to go to Stanford University and get a degree either in education or I would like to be a lawyer. The reason for these choosings is because I want to become a teacher to help out kids and give them many opportunities just like ICS did for me. Although, I would like to become a lawyer because I would like to help out people, especially immigrants due to all the headlines we see today in the news. I would like to make a difference.”
At ICS our mission is to develop students to their full potential in body, mind, and spirit. Students are empowered to be confident Catholic leaders who are college ready and committed to making a difference. To do this, as adults, we must be living examples. We are so proud of Ashly and her sister and feel blessed and humbled to have been a part of their journey. Thank you to all who help our students have the opportunity for a quality education and a community at ICS. Thank you to all who chose to help others.