Q&A with Christel House Watanabe High School Senior Jaquelin Escobedo
The Mind Trust believes the perspectives of those most affected by education change should be the ones shaping education innovation and transformation. No one is more affected than students who are currently in our city’s public schools. In light of that, The Mind Trust’s Students on the Mind series highlights the experiences and viewpoints of high school students across Indianapolis.
Jaqueline Escobedo, a senior at Christel House Watanabe High School, sat down with us for a Q&A to share about her experience at Christel House, a locally-based charter network whose schools she has attended since kindergarten. She discussed how Christel House has prepared for her life after high school, what all she’s been involved in during her 12 years at Christel House, and her passion for writing that ended up with her getting her work published.
Q: You’ve attended Christel House schools since kindergarten. Why has this been your school home for so long?
A: For me, it’s mostly because of convenience and the opportunities that Christel House offers. I live less than five minutes from here so it’s very convenient for my family. I also do a bunch of extracurriculars as well; I’m usually here until 9pm because of basketball games and other activities I’m involved in.
Q: What extracurriculars are you involved in?
A: Currently, I’m part of the cheer team and have been for the past six years. I was also on the volleyball team for three years. I tried out track for a little while but found out that was not for me because I’m not a runner, but it was fun. I also did student council for the first three years of high school.
My motivation for doing so many different extracurriculars is about finding my purpose. Focusing academically has been easier for me to do. I’m good at taking notes and following a schedule. It’s nice to have the academic structure that Christel House provides. It’s also nice to socialize and engage with the broader community of Christel House through these other opportunities. I feel like it’s important to do those extracurriculars for that reason.
Q: What has been your favorite extracurricular?
A: Definitely volleyball. I was really bad my sophomore year when I joined the team. I was a benchwarmer and played on JV. But then I put the work in during summer workouts and went running every other day. I was practicing all the time inside and outside of school. I really worked hard so that junior year I got to play on JV and Varsity and senior year I became Varsity captain and was starting every game.
Q: What has been your favorite subject in high school?
A: My favorite subject has always been English. It’s easier for me to communicate through writing. My English teacher is a major reason I like it so much. He introduced me to a bunch of writing competitions that I got to participate in and I actually won one and got published. They even turned my writing into a dance. I’ve always loved art and writing is an art form that lets me express my emotions.
Publishing my writing was vulnerable. Being vulnerable with my writing has helped me open up and connect better with other people. I have had to put in a lot of hard work to develop my writing. English is not my first language and I took ESL classes until fourth grade. Using stronger figurative language in my writing has really improved during my time at Christel House.
Q: What Christel House staff have been most influential in your high school journey?
A: I have so many that it’s hard to pick. Currently, my advisor is Mr. Weaver and he’s been with me since 8th grade. Christel House was one of his first jobs so we’ve gotten to watch each other grow. He’s watched out for me as I made the transition from middle school to high school and he’s helped me branch out and get outside of my comfort zone.
I also admire Mr. Zwiebel, our speech teacher. I appreciate the connections he wants to build with students not just academically but interpersonally as well. He doesn’t just stick to a set schedule in class and accepts who each student is. He’s also helped me with my writing when it comes to translating what I write into a speech.
Q: What is a challenge you faced during high school and how did Christel House help you overcome it?
A: Christel House has always felt like home and I’ve known so many of these people for years. Going into college and transitioning to a new place feels intimidating. Ms. Moreland [College & Careers Administrator at Christel House Indianapolis] has supported me with things like how to do phone calls related to looking at my college options and completing the FAFSA and sending my transcripts to colleges. All of that has helped me understand what life will look like after high school and helped me think through the financial aspect of college.
Q: What are your plans for after high school?
A: I haven’t decided on what college yet because I have so many options. I don’t know which program will be the best fit for me financially or emotionally. I know I want to major in nursing and maybe go to medical school. I am looking at IUPUI currently because they are connected to IU Health, one of the major hospitals here. It’s also close to home.
Q: What has Christel House done to help you figure out what you want to do after high school?
A: Definitely the college fairs and college visits that we have done here have helped. It’s always better than just hearing people talk about a school; I like to go see it and feel the energy on campus. When I went to IUPUI, I noticed how much they do for freshman orientation even though it is a big school.
Q: What are your career goals beyond college?
A: My goal is just to stick it out and not settle for less. I want to potentially go to medical school but I don’t want to not go purely because of financial reasons. If that’s really what I want to do after college, I am determined to not be scared off by the idea of more schooling or that I might have to work harder than ever before to pass the medical exams. I never want to settle for less just because it might be easier.
Q: What would you say to a student who is wondering if Christel House would be a good fit for them?
A: I would tell them to think about exactly what they are looking for in high school. Christel House is a smaller school and that means you get one-on-one connections with teachers that I never would have been able to build at other, bigger schools. And we still have the main things people look for like sports and extracurriculars. And because it’s K-12, you could also have your siblings go here to make things more convenient for your family.
I also see the impact of Christel House through my older sister who went here before me. She has since become a teacher in Pike Township. Seeing her take what she’s learned at Christel House and apply that to the classroom she teaches is amazing to see. It’s cool to say that my whole family has gone to Christel House and grown up on the same values.
I want people to know that Christel House staff really care about what you are going to do after high school. They really care about where you are emotionally and how you can contribute to society after high school.