Throughout the next few weeks OLMC is publishing profiles of each of our Hall of Fame Inductees, we hope you enjoy these personal portraits of alumni, parishioners and Academy families and we especially hope to see you at the gala event, November 30, 2018. Tickets can be purchased at the Narthex Office after the 10AM Mass or in the Church and Academy offices during the week!
“Actions speak louder than words,” Cecilia begins. “That simple phrase has been a great part of my upbringing.”
Cecilia Zayas graduated from the Academy of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 2013 and received a Mother Caroline Scholarship to the Academy of the Holy Angels (AHA). The hours of committed service to every community she has been a part of was her mother’s example and challenge that got her involved. “We have to give back,” my mother would say. “She would instill that in my brother and me—that we are lucky for this education and have to give back.”
She started young. “I remember doing Service on Saturdays (SOS) and going to Service Days at OLMC and I remember always being excited to be a part of that day,” she says of being the young woman tagging along with her mother and aunt at the parish annual service projects. Her desire to serve grew with her.
In middle school, Cecilia’s love for theater, on stage and off, got her interested in speaking publicly. She became an Angel Ambassador at AHA, providing information about the school at different events. “I joined a group called Joining Old and Young (JOY) which had us speaking to alumni from the 1950s and ’40s, and even the 1930s. Some were suffering from Alzheimer disease, but being with them was really meaningful,” she says.
“I’ve always loved working with children.” Cecilia started working at Camp Sunshine, a camp for children and young adults with developmental challenges in Ridgewood, New Jersey. “I’ve always loved working with children and women and wanted to help, so when I heard at Mass about a place in Englewood that takes care of first time mothers, I wanted to get more involved,” she says. Her desire to get more involved meant taking on, by herself, a Baby Needs Drive every year at OLMC and AHA. “Working with first time moms, helping them register for college classes, donating diapers and baby needs was exciting,” she says. She hadn’t even graduated high school yet!
Now, studying Psychology at Johns Hopkins University, moving toward Pre-Med, she continues to serve her local community in Baltimore, while attending classes and working. “My mom is my huge inspiration,” she says. “Being part of a Catholic school, OLMC taught me what it really means to be Catholic. It is not just about thinking—it’s about getting out there!” Cecilia doesn’t forget where it all started.
“My mom, aunt, and OLMC in general, were all examples to me, and the AHA community gave me moral understanding. It’s the common ground I still share with friends. We have this unifying thing, that, when we see each other, no matter how long it’s been, we’re connected,” she says. “OLMC feels like home. We’ve been so blessed.”
The “Little Flower” Award will be presented to Ms. Cecilia Zayas Founded in 2018 and named for the Carmelite saint, Thérèse of Lisieux, popularly known as “the Little Flower.” The recipient of this award is an example to their fellow youth and is a sign of OLMC’s commitment to the youth of our parish and Academy. The recipient is an exemplary young adult who serves either their local community or the larger human family by practicing Saint Thérèse’s “little way,” namely, by doing small things, with great love.