Maguire Scholar profile: Tomas Vallejo ’21
Holy Ghost Prep freshman Tomas Vallejo can’t help but shake his head as he discusses the many sacrifices that his parents have made for him.
“Back in 2000, my parents had one child, my older brother Santiago, and courageously decided to leave behind everything they knew—their home, friends, family and their jobs—to come to America in hopes of a better life,” says Tomas, who was born in the United States.
“We’ve had our struggles. But fortunately everything worked out.”
Inspired by the courage, faith, and work ethic that their mom, who works as a maid, and dad, a landscaper, have displayed, Santiago is now a college student in Connecticut, while Tomas is attending Holy Ghost Prep as a Maguire Scholar.
“I wouldn’t be at Holy Ghost Prep without the generosity of the Maguire Foundation,’ says Tomas. “My parents have always stressed that studying and working hard is the way to get ahead in this country, so I’ve always tried to give maximum effort first in grade school at St. Martin of Tours, then in the Inn Dwelling program which I joined in seventh grade, and now here at Holy Ghost.
“Everything my mom and dad do is with 100% effort, so that’s where my work ethic and desire to do well come from.”
Vallejo has been a valued member of the Holy Ghost community from the day he arrived on campus from his Mayfair home. In addition to being an honor roll student and keeping his three-days-after-school commitment to Inn Dwelling, Tomas was elected to Holy Ghost’s student government and also joined the school’s nationally-renowned speech and debate program, where he is showing great promise in declamation.
“Tomas has amazing potential as a speaker. In his declamation, he puts forth the understanding, compassion, and energy needed to move any audience,” says Patrick McGhee ’03, one of Holy Ghost Prep’s speech and debate coaches. “As a young man, Tomas is one of the best. Dr. (Trish) O'Connor and I lovingly call him ‘Mr. President’ because he is always so polite and interested in your day; he wants to know how you are doing. The school has been blessed with his attendance.”
Others clearly agree with that assessment as Vallejo was elected to student government despite the fact that he is the only member of HGP’s freshman class from St. Martin of Tours.
“Tomas is one of the most conscientious students I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” says Bob Vierlinck ’03, a social studies teacher who serves as one of the moderators of HGP’s student government association (SGA).
“While just a freshman, he has one of the best attitudes in all of SGA and easily communicates whenever he has a conflict, question, or concern. It's no doubt that his classmates recognized those traits and elected him to SGA on merit. I have no doubt that, as he continues to grow at HGP, he will become one of the most accomplished leaders the school has produced.”
Vallejo is one of eight students (four in the Class of 2020, four more in the Class of 2021) who are attending Holy Ghost Prep through the Maguire Independent Schools Scholars program—the others being sophomores John Burke, Nicholas LaRosa, Shane Love, and Joseph Tufo as well as fellow ninth graders Philip Lee, Syed Naqvi, and Jared Seehusahai.
Holy Ghost Preparatory School is a partner with the Maguire Foundation, a philanthropic enterprise founded by James J. and Frances Maguire in October, 2000 that focuses its resources on education. The Maguire Foundation provides grants to grade school, high school, and college students so that they may have an opportunity to benefit from a quality education. As part of this exceptional program, Maguire scholars are required to achieve benchmarks in academics, class attendance, and community service participation.
“We are so grateful for our relationship with the Maguire Foundation,” says Holy Ghost president Gregory J. Geruson ’79. “Their philanthropy has allowed eight tremendous young men to become integral parts of our Holy Ghost community. We look forward to welcoming future Maguire Scholars in the years to come.”