By MIKE ZINN     6/15/2022

Walking onto the campus of Christ Cathedral Academy (CCA) is a truly breathtaking experience.

The beauty, majesty and immense history of this magnificent campus, makes it one of the most storied properties in all of California. The beautiful Cathedral Memorial Gardens leads CCA students down a holy path to the ninth Station of Mercy and onto the statue of Jesus surrounded by children and etched with the phrase, “instruct those seeking wisdom and knowledge.” From there, the students find their entrance to the CCA campus and their time for learning, growing and having fun. What a tranquil and welcoming path to begin each school day!

Starting each day with the vision of seeking wisdom and knowledge is a very powerful phrase for the students of CCA. Since the first graduating class of 2014, staff and parents have collaborated on implementing this vision to develop students into actively empowered learners. Through this approach, it is apparent that CCA students strive to become leaders by making good choices, demonstrating self-control and interacting fairly with others. CCA is continuing the celebrated history of this campus that took many acts of leadership to build into its present form.

This vision is embodied by eighth grade student Melina Gonzalez who represents the potential of our Orange County Catholic education system. Gonzalez is a top student in her class and serves as the student council president and captain of both the volleyball and basketball teams. Her roles demonstrate leadership at its highest level.

While interviewing Assistant Principal Becky Brady and eighth-grade teacher Alexsee Wilcox about Gonzalez, many of Gonzalez’s personal qualities were discussed and applauded. The one quality that came to the forefront is her ability to be laser focused on her thinking and planning for her future, including the upcoming fall enrollment at Rosary High School. That focus has put plans in place to not only participate in traditional activities such as student council, volleyball, lacrosse and golf, but also start new (yet to be determined) groups on campus, where a need emerges. This visionary thinking and planning are yet other examples of leadership in the making.

In true Gonzalez fashion, determination thinking and planning hasn’t stopped with Rosary High School. It goes beyond to her aspirations of attending an Ivy league college and studying to become a lawyer, engineer or cardio thoracic surgeon. These are exciting visions for the future — a vision not many others possess at this early stage of education.

Brady and Wilcox both emphasized that Gonzalez cares not only about her own future, but for her classmates’ futures as well. She encourages classmates to become involved in CCA activities and her lead-by-example mentality creates momentum for increased student involvement, including proactively engaging students to work with her on the school newspaper.

For Melina Gonzalez, inspiration comes in various forms. When asked who her biggest role model was, Gonzalez quickly pointed to her mom. Along with her older sister, her mother encouraged her to be outgoing and involved when she was younger which has had a significant impact on creating the leader she has become. Her family “lit the fire” in Gonzalez that has positively impacted dozens of students at CCA.

When asked in what ways she is an “everyday leader” at CCA, Gonzalez said she brings the school together through various extracurricular activities. With a keenly focused approach and community outlook, Rosary High School and down the road, a lucky Ivy League school, will have a highly engaged and active student body with this featured Orange County Catholic School student as one of their leaders.