By Marie Galetto-Dugoni
The Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County awarded the first-ever Catholic Impact Scholar Award to Ian da Silva of Bellarmine College Preparatory. This award is given to a junior who exemplifies the impact that a Catholic high school education has on a student’s future goals and view of the world around them.
Each of the local Catholic high schools was invited to nominate one junior student to write an essay answering the question, “How has my Catholic education prepared me to contribute to engage with and improve my community and the world?” The winner of the award receives $5,000 toward their senior year tuition.
Five of the local high schools submitted a nominee for consideration.
“It was extremely difficult to select just one winner,” said Bertha Minnihan, Chair of the Grants Committee. “Each student had a unique perspective on the essay prompt. It was inspiring to read about all of these accomplished young people who are the future of our faith and our community!” After careful consideration, the committee decided on Ian da Silva as the award recipient.
Ian’s activities and accomplishments at Bellarmine include participation in robotics and track (long jump), planning liturgies in Campus Ministry, serving as Vice President of the Black Student Union, lecturing at his parish and working toward becoming an Eagle Scout.
In his essay, Ian discussed his faith journey and the role that his high school classes, community, and campus ministry activities, namely the Kairos retreat, played in that journey. While he had always felt close to God growing up, during his freshman year he began feeling his “connection with God slowly weaken.” He continued attending Mass, taking religion classes in school, and participating at his parish; however, the close connection he previously felt with God and his faith began to fade.
He always enjoyed going on retreats and so decided to attend Bellarmine’s Kairos retreat for junior students. This is when everything changed for Ian.
“Kairos taught me how to appreciate the things and people that God has put in my life,” said Ian in his essay. “It was on this retreat that I developed my current image of God: a perfect person who created us in his image, knows all, and can do anything.”
Ian felt that the community of students and staff at Bellarmine were key in bringing him back to his faith. “The rigorous academics at Bellarmine have prepared me to be successful in life, while also teaching me that the best way to use this success is for the good of others,” said Ian. “Realizing that my life is not just my own, but for the world, helps me to see that we are all needed to carry the love of God to others…My faith inspires me to give people hope in their hard times and be a friend in their loneliness.”
Missy Scott-Flórez, Director of Campus Ministry at Bellarmine, wrote a glowing review for Ian which described a driven and compassionate young leader. “In this valley, it sometimes seems like people are gripped by fear, feeling that if they do not do this mysterious and illustrious something, they might miss out on a good future,” she said. “So, they sometimes end up walking around touting the many things they do, like the shield that enters the room ahead of them to prove why they are worthy or powerful. While Ian is a busy person with a full life…he does not present this as his façade. I think he knows that there is something deeper to orient one’s life toward.”
Among the other nominees were: Maya Diaz, Notre Dame High School; Olivia Jennings, Presentation High School; Connor Martin, Archbishop Mitty High School; and Daisy Villaseñor, Cristo Rey San José High School.
The Catholic Community Foundation is proud to award the inaugural Catholic Impact Scholar Award to Ian da Silva and knows that each of this year’s exceptional nominees has a bright future ahead of them.
Marie Galetto-Dugoni is the Marketing Manager for the Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County. To learn more about the Foundation, visit cfoscc.org.