In the fall, Carlos Saravia will be continuing the Holy Cross education that he began at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland, by participating in the Driscoll Scholars Engineering Program, which begins with two years at Holy Cross College and is followed by three years at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Both schools, like McNamara, are connected to the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

Saravia said he became interested in the program because he was looking for a school where he wouldn’t just be a number, and where he could study the humanities in addition to his math and science classes.

“I’ve always loved to problem solve,” he said. He used to want to be a medical doctor, but now he hopes to study biomedical or bioengineering.

Saravia said he also “loves hearing different perspectives,” which he was able to do during his global studies class at Bishop McNamara, where the students were able to learn about different cultures.

“I realized not everyone around the world has the same perspectives,” he said. “I wonder why; how did such perspectives come to be formed.”

He said having those various perspectives will help him as an engineer, because they will encourage him to ask critical questions about what he was creating and what it would be used for.

Saravia also grew in his understanding of himself while at Bishop McNamara. In particular, he said attending a Catholic school helped him learn more about what it meant to be Catholic.

“Coming from a public school, I didn’t know a lot about my faith,” he said. “I didn’t know what being Catholic really meant…coming here, I learned there is a lot more to being Catholic.”

Saravia learned about the Bible having both literal truth and sacred truth, and was exposed to different types of prayer than those he had memorized as a child, such as the Hail Mary and the Our Father. Now, Saravia, who plays French horn in the school band, said he often prays by playing the piano.

“I transpose my emotions onto my playing and offer that up to Him,” he said, adding that he learned that from the people around him who “had open ears, open arms, and were willing to listen.”

Saravia noted two people in particular who had a big influence on his personal growth during his time at Bishop McNamara, including Marco Clark, the school’s Chief Executive Officer whom he said “has been there every step of the way, opening up certain paths [and] willing to extend a hand to people who may be held back,” such as his parents who have a language barrier.

His father is from El Salvador and his mother is from Mexico, and he said Peter Sanneman, the school’s director of campus ministry, helped give him the tools to understand more about his parents’ background, which included being in areas with a lot of war.

Coming from a public school that was predominately African-American, with white students as the smallest minority, Saravia said he had a bit of culture shock when he arrived at Bishop McNamara to see a much more diverse group.

“The school did a good job of making me feel welcomed,” he said. “Now, people who I felt alienated from at first are my best friends. No matter how weird you view yourself, there is always someone who says, ‘I’m like that. You’re not alone.’”

Throughout the remainder of his high school years, “even in my darkest times, my friends were there,” he said.

His friends were literally by his side as he traveled with the school band to Disney World, leaving the Washington metro-area for the first time. He said he was lost and confused, but his friends told him, “it’s okay, we’ll guide you along the way.”

In addition to the French horn and the piano, Saravia plays the guitar at home. After his engineering degree, Saravia said he hopes to pursue a degree in musical composition at some point in his life.

“I want to embrace music in a way that it touches people’s hearts,” he said.