By Favian Martinez
I am a proud founding student from Rainier Prep’s Class of 2019. I am currently a senior at O’Dea High School. My sights are set on Seattle University to study psychology and to play on their soccer team.
As I look back at starting Rainier Prep, I had no idea the impact it would have on my character development. When I entered 5th grade, I had no say in what middle school I attended. I remember questioning my parents’ decision about being a founding student at a brand-new school that no one had heard of, that had no tables, chairs, or gym. I had a feeling of uncertainty not knowing how this new school would be, but one thing has proved to be certain – my parents trusted in the vision of Rainier Prep, and it has DELIVERED and prepared me for this moment today.
In my elementary school, I had always been a troublemaker. My brother and I were the only Hispanic students at the school and I felt different. Based on that experience, I had no clue what I was getting into and I was upset that I had no option in deciding if I wanted to go or not.
But on the first day of Rainier Prep, I remember walking through the doors and instantly feeling the strong sense of community. So many teachers came up to me to shake my hand, ask how my morning was, and ask me about my future goals. One teacher specifically, Mr. Hicke, my Science Teacher, really stood out and we connected. And that connection grew. Over the 4 years at Rainier Prep, we would use lunch time and free periods to discuss psychology, how to be a strong young man, and how to have an impact on my school.
During these discussions, I learned more and more about who I was as a person and who I wanted to be. I could discuss my love for books, and explore my curiosity and thirst for knowledge with an experienced teacher who truly cared about my thoughts and development. These conversations were so important. I was able to pick his brain, learn from his lessons and apply them to my own life, question my identity and goals, and have someone to mentor me..
I had always been looked at as a leader but that didn’t always mean I knew how to be one. Yes, as the oldest brother of six, I had the basics down, but I knew I could be better. I asked Mr. Hicke about how to use my characteristics as a leader. He told me to just be me – to be strong, yet careful at the same time. To use my own gifts and talents to take my family and friends at school to the next level. Even now, we communicate about what it means to be a strong, dedicated, driven man with goals to motivate and inspire people. I cannot thank him enough for having the impact he has had on me.
When I entered O’Dea as a first year, I was worried about the workload and thought it would be the hardest year of my life. I was wrong, Rainier Prep had overprepared me so that I wouldn’t underperform. It was a relief. As a 10-year-old boy, I could not understand. But later in high school, I would have the responsibility to get my work done in class, and I would have so much more freedom.
Now that I’m in my last year of high school, I reflect on my time at Rainier Prep and think about how much I have grown as a young man, student, son, brother, and soccer player, and I feel grateful to remember the impact on who I am today. I put in the hard work and effort with the support of my teachers and parents. Those 4 years of middle school were fundamental to building my love for learning, my curiosity and interest in psychology, my drive to be a leader and successful, but most of all, to believe in myself and to make the most of my opportunities.
When we’re being challenged and tested, we might not understand why we are going through those things in the moment, or why it is so hard to get through. But once you have overcome those obstacles and see how strong you had to be to overcome them, you find your true inner strength and capabilities. For me, that was Powerful. That RESILIENCE I learned at Rainier Prep serves me today and will serve me when I attend Seattle University where I plan to study psychology.
My final thought that I’d like to share with you is that with the right amount of perseverance, and faith in your vision, you can and will achieve anything. Thank you!
This was originally shared as a speech at the Rainier Prep Pathfinders event, October 17, 2022.