Class of 2020, stories of hope
Saint’s words ‘Be who you are and be that well’ inspire Visitation student
May 31, 2020
For senior Nicole Rivas, the past few years at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., have led her from the soccer field to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and even all the way to France to study abroad. As she wraps up her school year, Rivas said that one of the biggest lessons she takes with her is to go forward without fear.
“Visitation really taught me that,” she said. “Not to be afraid to try new things.”
Rivas intends to begin studies this fall at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and while she is undecided about her major, she is interested in international studies.
“I love learning about different cultures and different people,” she said, adding that after she studied in France for two weeks with other Visitation classmates, she stayed with a family member in Germany before returning to the United States.
Rivas was recognized with a gold medal in 10th grade and a bronze medal in 11th grade on the National French Exam.
Within the classroom at Georgetown Visitation, Rivas said she most enjoyed her macroeconomics class with her teacher, William Farquhar.
“My economics class in general was just so relevant, and I learned a lot from him,” she said.
Adding to that, Rivas expressed gratitude for the many teachers that helped her along the way – particularly Michal Kolpak, who teaches in the school’s math and science departments.
“I think he’s just such a great teacher,” Rivas said. “He’s so generous with his time. I don’t think he ever sits down and eats lunch because people are always asking him for help.”
As a student athlete, Rivas succeeded in juggling her activities both inside and outside the classroom. She participated in the Vital Voices club, a group preparing young women to be leaders, and was also on four different soccer teams including the varsity Georgetown Visitation team and Maryland United.
While the end of her senior year might look a lot different than she originally anticipated, Rivas said that she and her classmates are trying to stay optimistic during online classes.
“It’s just not the same,” she said. “I know I really enjoyed having in-class discussion with my friends. It was always really stimulating.”
Throughout her high school years, Rivas had the opportunity to volunteer frequently at Sacred Heart Nursing Home in Hyattsville, which she said impacted her, particularly learning to “just be there with people, listening to their stories,” a lesson she said was often emphasized at Visitation.
During her time at Georgetown Visitation, Rivas said she was continually reminded of St. Francis de Sales’ saying, “Be who you are and be that well,” which she said has always stuck with her. That saint co-founded the Visitation order that sponsors the school.
“Visitation definitely gave me the means to figure out who I am and who I want to be and to find my own way,” Rivas said. “They definitely placed an emphasis on not only just acquiring the knowledge, but also thinking about stepping outside of yourself and asking how does this affect me and the community around me.”
By learning to consider different perspectives, Rivas said it helped “encourage me to just have more concern for others.”