Four years ago, Elena Visoso, who graduates this year from Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, Maryland, was one of 20 young Hispanic students chosen for the new Latina Scholars program at the all-girls Catholic high school sponsored by the Daughters of Charity.

Visoso, then an eighth-grade student at St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, was accepted to Seton as part of an innovative program to attract more Hispanic students to the school.

Started in 2015, the Class of 2019 marks the first graduating class of Latina Scholars. The program has proven to be a success: 100 percent of Latina Scholars have been accepted to college, 85 percent have taken honors or AP classes and 65 percent maintain a 3.0 or higher grade point average.

Visoso is one of those success stories. She graduates with a 4.03 grade point average and will attend Regis University in Colorado in the fall where she plans to major in Spanish and minor in vocal performance.

As she looks back on her years at Elizabeth Seton High School, Visoso said that she is grateful “for all the opportunities I have had.”

“The staff has been very supportive, and I have developed confidence in myself,” she said.  

She credits the school for “helping girls develop into well-rounded women. We have been empowered from what we have been able to do here (at Seton). We are well prepared for our futures.”

A member of the school’s theater program for four years, Visoso had the lead in Seton’s production of “High School Musical” and was featured in the school’s productions of Hairspray” and “Once on This Island.”

During her career at Seton, Visoso was also a member of the National Honor Society, participated in the homework buddies program, served as treasurer of the Latinas Club, was president of the Tri-M music honor society, played field hockey and was a school ambassador.

Being raised in a bilingual home – her mother, Maria is from Spain and her father, Rafael is from Mexico – Visoso has been able to use her language skills to benefit others.

She volunteered with the Comunidad Catolico de Langley Park, an outreach sponsored by St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring that assists the needy. Her family, which includes sister Patricia, a 10th-grader at Seton, and brother Rafael, a seventh-grader at St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, attend that parish.

“I would cook meals for the hot lunch program for youth, and then serve the kids who would not have a meal otherwise,” Visoso said. “I would also translate for people who do not understand English. I would explain their mail –that a car payment was due or that a court hearing was planned – or help them fill out a job application.”

Through her volunteer work there, she said, “I got to hear their stories and learn what they are going through. I am very grateful to be able to use my Spanish to help others. I am glad I could go out into the community to help the people.”

Her outreach, she said, made her realize “how much we can do for each other.”

“We can take what we know and share it with others,” she said. “I am very proud of my heritage and very proud to help improve the lives of others.”

While a student at the school, Visoso said “I’ve had a lot of classes that I’ve enjoyed, especially music classes.”

In addition to her artistic pursuits, Visoso said that her time at Seton “allowed me to grow more and more in my faith.”

“From the time I was little, my grandmother taught me my prayers in Spanish, so I have always prayed,” she said. “Here (at Seton), there are so many opportunities to have my faith be a part of my everyday life. It makes you want to share your faith.”

As she leaves Seton, Visoso says that the friendships she has made over the years will last a lifetime.

“They (fellow classmates) will be my sisters forever,” she said. “We are going away from each other, but we will be okay. We have been well-prepared to face our futures.”