More Than Just Education: My School Teaches Empowerment

By Divina Carrillo | Feb 2 2017

This blog is the fourth in a year-long series written by students serving on the San Antonio Youth Commission. The San Antonio Youth Commission is a civic engagement platform for San Antonio High School students and is managed by the P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County. See all the posts here.

As a student at an all-girls Catholic High School, I overhear countless stereotypes labeling my fellow sisters and I as “privileged” or as “drama-inducers.” However, these labels could not be further from the truth. At Incarnate Word High School, I constantly learn the importance of academic diligence, impactful community service, cultural awareness, and the indestructible bond of sisterhood.

As a success-pursuing junior, I am extremely involved both at school, as well as in my community. The various clubs and societies I find myself involved in consist of: American Red Cross Club, Literary Magazine, National Honor Society, tennis, UT Teen Health, and the San Antonio Youth Commission. My most prominent leadership roles are serving as an ambassador in my school’s very selective Shamrock Ambassador Society, an Advisory Representative, a mentor for UT Teen Health, and as a commissioner for the San Antonio Youth Commission.

Although most high school students take the same classes every single day, following the same monotonous schedule week after week, I cannot say the same. IWHS follows a modular schedule, consisting of seventeen, twenty-minute long mods, with the exception of mods eight through twelve which are longer because they are lunch mods. All regular classes meet only three times a week for two mods with the exception of math courses which meet four times a week; pre-AP and AP classes meet four times a week. On the days I don’t have class, I am expected to complete my homework in our school library or a supervised classroom that does not have class, more commonly known as an “open lab.” Additionally, I take my quizzes in my school’s testing center either before school or during my open mods, rather than doing so during class time. Consequently, my school has taught me to develop impressive organizational and time-management skills that could undoubtedly make a full time college student envious.

Despite the stressful weeks I sometimes face, I mean it when I express that I truly enjoy and cherish the memories I have made, and the ones I will continue to make. I have been taught countless lessons by my teachers and sisters, each lesson coinciding, overlapping, and lifting me each and every day.

My school community has also taught me the importance of empowering myself, rather than allowing others to empower me. I constantly embrace my heritage, the constantly growing expanse of my knowledge, my faith, others, and most importantly, myself. IWHS also encourages me to rise out of my comfort zone in order to experience new things, seize new opportunities, and express my thoughts and views, even if they are not harmonic with societal norms. Overall, I am proud of the person I am shaping myself into with the assistance of my teachers, my family, and my sisters.

I am becoming a leader, a truly empowered young woman ready to take on the hardships life has to offer. Although my voice will never be the loudest nor the steadiest, I know that the greatest leaders are those whose voices shake because of their unwavering passion.

High school has slowly yet surely transformed me from an extremely soft-spoken, shy girl to one who holds her head up high, speaking and writing with conviction. This summer I hope to travel to Germany and Austria through one of my school’s study abroad programs. Many people regard this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, yet I hope to continue making opportunities like this one annual opportunities, extending the length of each trip gradually yet surely.

I know many high school students may sometimes be discouraged by the stress of their classes and the growing extent of their homework, but I am able to full-heartedly express that IWHS continues inspiring me to expand my knowledge. I cherish the new people I have met throughout high school because they, like me, are the leaders of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


Divina Carrillo

Divina Carrillo represents District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales on the San Antonio Youth Commission, a civic engagement platform composed of 22 San Antonio high school students, managed by P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar county. Divina is a senior at Incarnate Word High School who enjoys learning, reading, and writing. She plans to study several fields within the Social Sciences throughout her undergraduate career to prepare her for law school, which she hopes to attend in the near future. Upon the completion of her studies, Divina hopes to return to San Antonio to immerse herself in local government, and eventually begin a non-profit for economically-disadvantaged and colored youth.

View all posts by Divina Carrillo

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