Brookewood School senior Noelia Gonzalez said her great love for literature and writing was so well nurtured during high school that she will spend the next four years majoring in English at the Catholic University of America.

“I’ve always loved reading and writing because it shows you so much about people, human nature and complex human relationships,” said Gonzalez, during an interview with the Catholic Standard shortly before the May 25 Brookewood commencement.

Among her favorite authors and works are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver’s short stories, and the more modern novels by John Green. Gonzalez credits her Brookewood English teacher, Cherie Walsh, for introducing her to many beautiful works of literature and helping her grow as a writer through constructive criticism.

She also said she appreciates Brookewood’s emphasis on the classics, such as Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. “Yes, they are ancient things, but it can still matter today,” she said. “Throughout the ages, something written more than 2,000 years ago still teaches us about ourselves.”

In the future, Gonzalez said she hopes to one day combine her love of literature and education by being a teacher and helping youngsters discover the virtues of truth, beauty and goodness through reading great works.

“There is so much goodness in the world. There is something valuable in all people,” she said. “I have this idea that I can help kids see that beauty in life.” She recently served an internship at an after-school program at Whetstone Elementary School in Gaithersburg, and she has worked summers at a camp for kids with autism.

Gonzalez said what she has loved most about the all-girls Catholic school in Kensington is its small class sizes, the challenging curriculum, and its tight-knit community, which she said greatly helped her overcome her self-described shy and timid nature. So much so, that she surprised herself by auditioning and landing the leading role of Hermia in this year’s Avlaon-Brookewood Schools’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“God has brought us here today in His love for us...Brookewood has left a mark on us, a dignity that can never be taken away from us,” said Gonzalez in her graduation ceremony speech. “...Brookewood, thank you for showing us what it means to be human.”

At Brookewood, Gonzalez played varsity soccer, served as editor of the yearbook, and received a summa cum laude award for her top score on the National Latin Exam. During Brookewood’s commencement exercises, she was honored with the Maryland State Merit Scholarship Award for the highest GPA in her senior class and received the 2019 Archdiocese of Washington’s Archbishop’s Award in recognition of personal efforts to live Catholic teachings and principles.

Brookewood’s headmaster Richard McPherson, describes Gonzalez as an “outstanding student and outstanding girl,” who is well known for her love of reading and her consistent cheerful nature.

Another huge influence in her life, she said, is her family’s longtime involvement with the Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic movement dedicated to faith formation. “God loves us. His plan for us is in everything that happens every day,” said Gonzalez of how the Way has helped her guide her life and faith.

Gonzalez’s parents, Fidencio and Marta, are natives of Paraguay who met and married in the United States. Her father serves as a permanent deacon at Mother Seton Parish, Germantown. She has two older siblings – a sister, Betania, and a brother, Marcos, who graduated from The Avalon School, Brookewood’s brother school, in 2015 and is currently studying for the priesthood at a Redemptoris Mater seminary in New York.

In January, Gonazalez traveled to Panama for the 2019 World Youth Day, an international event that drew hundreds of thousands of young Catholic pilgrims from around the world for catechesis and concluded with a Mass celebrated by the Holy Father, Pope Francis. She previously attended the 2016 World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland and plans to be at the next one to be held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2022.

“I’ve always loved pilgrimages. It’s about stepping away from life and you gain this great spiritual peace... Being (at WYD) makes you realize there are so many fellow Catholics,” she said. “Seeing the pope, seeing all the other young people – it’s a really powerful experience.”