Domenica Scholars Keep on Achieving

collage of four female college graduates

We are so proud of our Domenica Scholars that we do our best to keep up with them after high school graduation. We want to see — and to share with you — how the opportunity to attend a high-quality high school empowers Camden young people to keep on achieving.

So today we highlight four former Domenica Scholars who are receiving college degrees this month. All four graduated from Camden Catholic High School (CCHS) in 2018. 

Domenica Scholars have a 100% on-time high school graduation rate. Nearly all go on to college. Prepared by their rigorous high school education, they grow and thrive in college and beyond. Here are four shining examples!

Jada in her college gown

Jada Cordero, BA, Legal Studies and Communications (double major), William Paterson University

Jada, a member of the honors law fraternity at William Paterson, is planning to attend law school after a gap year so she can save money and study for the entrance exam. 

She credits CCHS and her Domenica Scholarship for teaching her “life lessons that have gotten me to where I am today.” She says, “In Camden, college is talked about but there isn’t enough representation. I want to be that representation and show students that it is possible.” She makes a point of connecting with and mentoring other Camden students at the university.

During her first year in college, Jada established her own successful hair business, which she says has connected her with other business owners. We are impressed with her drive and independence!

Hillary Peralta, BS, Health Sciences, Stockton University

Hillary values her CCHS education and the Domenica Scholarship that made it possible because she benefited not only from the academic excellence but also from the opportunity to make lifelong friends, explore her faith, and learn the value of service to others. Like most Domenica Scholars, she says that her family would not have been able to afford a Catholic high school education without the scholarship. 

Next year, Hillary plans to continue her education in the accelerated nursing program at Rutgers University – Camden. In this program, she will be assigned to clinical rotations in nearby hospitals. She sees these rotations as an opportunity to give back to her community by applying the medical knowledge she acquires to serve her patients.

 

Hillary in her cap and gown with diploma
Lesley in cap and gown on the SJU campus

Lesley Reyes, BS, Criminal Justice, St. Joseph’s University

Lesley’s story shows how Domenica Scholarships work to power success well beyond high school. At CCHS, she connected with the Ignatian College Connection program, which awarded her a full-ride scholarship at St. Joseph’s. Today, she is the first in her family to graduate from college.

During high school, Lesley was active with LUCY Outreach, a Domenica Foundation grantee. She plans to continue to work with LUCY to help other Camden young people.

During her time at St. Joseph’s, Lesley participated in student associations focused on diversity and inclusion. She co-leads workshops for other college students about the immigrant experience in the US.

Next year, Lesley plans to work at an immigration law office while she prepares for law school.

Melissa Rodriguez, BS, Nursing, Villanova University

Melissa plans to put her nursing degree to immediate use; she is applying for positions as a registered nurse in the Philadelphia area. A member of the international honor society of nursing, she served as a nurse extern at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital last summer.

As a self-described “family- and friend-oriented person,” Melissa says that what she values most from her CCHS experience was the establishment of friendships that she expects to be lifelong. 

Melissa’s ability to connect with others is shown in what she describes as “one of my favorite memories at Villanova.” In August 2021, she served as an orientation counselor for a group of incoming freshmen, to whom she still feels connected.

Melissa posing in cap and gown

Congratulations to these students and all former Domenica Scholars who are completing their college degrees in 2022!