Growing up in Mexico, I thought I would be too homesick to attend school abroad. Luckily for me, my cousin – who admittedly had more foresight than I at the time – attended a Culver Academies summer camp, nestled alongside Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver, Indiana. Describing his experience, his words were pretty powerful: “It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had,” he said. His experience opened my mind to the idea of going to boarding school abroad, so I began to do my own research.
I based my school search on the specific criteria that are important to me: a strong football program, co-ed student mix and competitive tuition. The more I looked into a potential boarding school experience, the more excited I was to start something new—a chance to meet new people, experience different cultures and prove myself in football.
Eventually landing on the school my cousin attended, I started my education at Culver Academies, giving myself one year to figure out if boarding school was for me. It was probably a huge surprise to my parents that I didn’t want to leave after my first year! What surprised me the most is how much emphasis was placed on things like leadership and personal substance, and that grades were only part of the education and curriculum. With all students held to the same standards, I found that we were all in this journey together, and expected to work as a unit.
That feeling of being a team has grown stronger with each year. I am proud that I now have friends from the United States, Taiwan, Venezuela, Canada and Mexico–it really doesn’t matter where you come from, you are accepted. And because your peers are experiencing the same challenges you are, you find yourself trusting them and asking their perspective. Even when you disagree, you work things out, because you will see each other all of the time. Ultimately, you care about each other.
Attending a boarding school stretches you in many ways, but I think it really makes you more independent and teaches personal responsibility. At home, your family may step in to help, set boundaries, tell you when to stop having fun and focus on responsibilities, but at a boarding school, you have to make those decisions for yourself, manage your own time. For example, I have military drill at 6:00 a.m., class from 8:30-3:15 p.m., sports until 6:00 p.m., dinner, homework and sleep. It is a regimented schedule, but it teaches you unmatched time management skills.
At Culver, the boys are part of a military program, which reinforces the sense of personal responsibility. As a cadet, you have ownership of how room inspections are conducted in your barracks, for example. The experience of being a leader and having responsibility for the success of your unit translates when you are working in a group on a school project or leading a sports team. You get to make decisions that will affect others, help others. Sometimes you get to just celebrate together. For example, under my command, Battery A won Best Unit. It was one of my most satisfying experiences at school.
I ultimately want to practice law in the Unites States and Mexico, and will be attending the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, the second-best law program in Mexico, followed by law school in the United States. The coolest part is that my dad has asked me to come back to Mexico and work with him in the company he owns. I wholeheartedly believe that he has asked me to join him – not because I am his son – but because of the skills I’ve developed and the man I’ve become. My experience at Culver Academies had a lot to do with that.