Jaide Talmadge, a member of Saint Martin de Porres High School’s Class of 2017, is heading to Harvard University this fall with a full ride scholarship.
How did you find and ultimately choose Saint Martin de Porres High School?
I found Saint Martin through a group of my peers. The main factor that ultimately made my decision was the Corporate Work Study Program.
What elements of a Cristo Rey education stand out?
One element of Saint Martin’s education that stood out, other than the CWSP, are the teachers. The most important relationships that I developed during high school were the ones formed with the teachers and staff members of Saint Martin. They provided a multitude of opportunities and connections that assisted me greatly during my time here. One staff member even provided me with the contact information of a friend that attended Harvard. There are so many teachers at Saint Martin that adapted to the needs of their students. Personally, I have had plenty of teachers that stayed late, even just to talk. Our teachers truly have invested themselves in the success of their students
Where was your CWSP job, and how did the experience affect your development and education?
My freshman year I worked at Cleveland Clinic. My sophomore and junior year I worked at McDonald Hopkins, a law firm downtown. My senior year I worked at Frantz Ward, another law firm. My experience at all my CWSP jobs gave me a sense of confidence, especially when speaking to adults. My experience at Frantz Ward has been particularly rewarding. My coworkers made it their job to introduce me to as many attorneys and people of the firm as possible. When I expressed a slight interest in law, attorneys started trying to assign me more work.
In what ways has your unique education at Saint Martin prepared you for the next step in your journey?
The college preparatory education provided by Saint Martin has been so helpful throughout my years there. The most valuable yet stressful classes at Saint Martin have been the College Counseling classes. When the classes were introduced my freshman year, I was not as excited for them as I was my senior year. First of all, they took away from my study hall time, which was very important to me as a busy student-athlete. Second of all, the demanding journey of college seemed so far, but starting early was super important, even if I didn’t want to admit it. Discussing important topics concerning college was especially helpful when it came to applications, college visits, and selecting a college when the time came. And there’s no doubt in my mind that when it comes time to start school in the fall, the College Counselors will be there to guide me when I need it.
How did you respond to your acceptance letter to Harvard? What happened that day?
I received the news late at night, and I was extremely shocked. I immediately got out of bed and told the news to my mother, who was half-asleep. When I went to school the next day, they announced my acceptance over the loudspeaker because I was the first person from Saint Martin to receive an acceptance letter from Harvard. The entire Saint Martin community was overjoyed, with some of my peers even more excited than I was.
What are your hopes and goals for the next four years at Harvard?
My hope for the next four years at Harvard is that I am able to thrive in that community despite the fact that it is so very different than the one that I have been used to for the past four years. I definitely hope to mature and find what I am meant to do. I will use this opportunity to better myself and prepare for whatever the world has to offer after college.
Do you see yourself as an inspiration to others?
I definitely see myself as an inspiration to students from Saint Martin that also desire to pursue admission to Ivy League caliber colleges and universities. I never knew anyone that attended Harvard before I decided to apply, which added to my reluctance to apply in the first place. I did not think it was possible for someone like me. But now that I have been accepted and I chose to attend, I get messages from peers through Instagram, Snapchat, or text asking for advice. Now that they have someone close to them that has completed the process. Hopefully they see me as a success story that could be them one day.
What advice would you give to prospective Cristo Rey students?
Take advantage of the many adults in the community, whether it is teachers, staff, or CWSP coworkers. They all have so much insight to offer, and many wouldn’t hesitate to support you to help you succeed.