Don Bosco Cristo Rey valedictorian Juliana Ramos was born in Santa Cruz, Boliva, and moved to the United States when she was seven years old, because her parents were seeking a better life and a chance for her and her sister to go to college in the United States.

“Don Bosco Cristo Rey has opened up so many doors for me, and I am just so thankful for everything."

Ramos, who is graduating from Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park with a 4.65 grade point average, will be attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall, which Ramos said she chose over the other top-tier schools she was accepted to because of the many service opportunities they have there.

“Don Bosco Cristo Rey has opened up so many doors for me, and I am just so thankful for everything,” she said.

During her time as a student at Cristo Rey, Ramos has worked at MITRE, a company which does science and technology research for the government. While working there, she decided she wants to study computer science in college because of how much she has enjoyed coding.

“Ever since I was little I have loved solving problems,” she said, recalling how when she was young she would always do the outside edges of puzzles first because she enjoyed “finding the most efficient way to solve problems.” Coding, she has found, involves a similar challenge of solving problems well.

Because of her interest in coding, Ramos founded a chapter of “Girls Who Code” at Don Bosco Cristo Rey to give herself and others coding experience, since they do not have a computer science class at the school. Since computer science is a male-dominated field, the club aims to open it up to girls.

“Girls Who Code is so empowering,” she said. “It teachers other girls – and here at Don Bosco, minorities – that they can do it. They shouldn’t feel bad about not having the same opportunities as others.”

Ramos has also been a part of the Student Government Association, the National Honor Society, and the girls’ soccer team at Don Bosco Cristo Rey. On weekends, Ramos is involved in the youth ministry at St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Hyattsville, and also serves as a catechist assistant there.

“I felt sort of empty not doing anything on Sundays,” she said. “I found a pleasure in helping little kids study for their catechism.”

Going to school at Don Bosco Cristo Rey “has just made my faith stronger,” she said, because “here at Don Bosco, we’re constantly reminded what we do is in the image of God.”

Ramos also noted the support of her friends and teachers, who “have no problem staying late” to help students who are struggling with assignments.

“Teachers are here because they want to be here,” she said. “They want to help us succeed.”

Now that she is on the cusp of graduation, Ramos said reaching this point “means so much to me.”

“I’ve worked so hard for this throughout all of high school,” she said. “To see the result of the hard work…there is no explanation to the feeling.”