Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 (NIV)

God’s many blessings are a reminder to strive for humbleness and compassion.Ironically, when talking about St. Mark Lutheran, one of the biggest blessings of my life, I fall short of humbleness and cannot help but brag. I inched my way into freshman year at Westchester Academy for International Studies with numerous worries on my mind, including the fact that I was that one “guy from the private school”. What I soon realized was that being the “guy from the private school” gave a foundation that would set me up for tremendous success and nominations for many awards.

To my surprise, I was nominated for the “Character Without Question Award” the second semester. At the ceremony, they claimed the nominations went to students that showed good character on a regular basis in class. I did not even think that good character was a question or that it was as rare as the teachers had said it was. I was much more aware of the ways my behavior and mindset differed from my peers simply by default.

One thing I learned from the St. Mark staff was that good relationships with teachers and a solid understanding of the academic material were critical. It provided a growing circle of friends, steady grades and a good reputation for me at WAIS, despite the change in setting. I started to realize the academic potential St. Mark had given me after taking the STAAR tests and being ranked at “Advanced Academic Performance” in all of them. Smaller things such as writing cursive and typing accurately at a fast pace drew the attention of my peers and teachers.

When I joined the National Honor Society in sophomore year, I had no problem adapting to their demand for service hours or tutoring hours. In my junior year, I felt that I was equipped to embark on the two year journey of taking IB (International Baccalaureate) classes, which can be described as AP courses on a international level and a lot less multiple choice. By the end of junior year, I was in the running for valedictorian of Westchester with a 6.458 GPA on a weighted scale of 7. As salutatorian, I have obtained automatic admission to my first-pick school of A&M University and was accepted to their Dwight-Look College of Engineering. I was nominated for “Character Without Question Award” once more in senior year and won. I was named Mr. WAIS in the yearbook by popular vote and am also in the running for Prom King.

As Tolkien once wrote, “The road goes ever on and on.” This is true for my road to success as much as it is true for I-10. As I look forward, I can see a mechanical engineering degree along the way and what looks like the hazy outline of a seminary. However, the Lord could have very different plans. Fortunately, St. Mark was a major part of those plans, and I am proud to say that I will forever be, no matter where I am or what I am, the “guy from St. Mark ”.

- Daniel Villagomez