Attending middle school at Chase Collegiate in Waterbury, Connecticut, was a bigger challenge for Jerry ’22 than for most students. Originally born in the U.S., Jerry moved with his family to China before returning some years later. The issue? “I forgot all my English! When I got to Chase, I literally spoke no English at all,” he told his fellow Saints during the final Saints on the Hill presentation of the school year.
That was when he realized just how important it was to have a strong support system. “Fortunately, I met many people who were willing to speak to me and figure out what I was trying to say,” he shared. “They taught me a lot about the culture and language.”
Coming to the hilltop presented a whole new set of challenges for Jerry, not the least of which was a basic fear of interacting with his peers. And, just as at Chase, new friends were there to help him adapt to Canterbury. “On the first day of school, I was nicknamed ‘Ghost’ because I was too scared to talk with anyone,” he said. “But again, I was fortunate to have people who encouraged me to run for Form Council, to speak up, and to take chances.”
Amazingly, that self-described “shy, quiet teenage boy” blossomed to lead tours of the campus for prospective student families! “I tell every family I tour with that my favorite part about Canterbury is its community,” Jerry recalled. “I know it is cliché, but I genuinely believe that human connection is the single most important factor that binds me to the School. At Canterbury, I got to experience sincere friendships, excitement, kindness, fighting for the same goal on a sports team, and interactions with the faculty that made me realize these adults here truly care about me.”
He urged his peers to savor every moment with each other—the highs and the lows—for they would be gone before they knew it. “I hope you love this place as much as I do. Sometimes you might feel frustrated with your friends, or you might be disappointed that a Heads’ Holiday fell on a half day,” he said, laughing. “But know that these emotions are temporary and you can still enjoy those moments when you wake up together and eat at the same table like family.”
The moral of the story for Jerry? “It does not matter where you are or where you are going; the most important thing is to find people who will value you, laugh with you, and support you unconditionally,” he explained. “Make sure you take time in your life to find those people in the moment when they are around because time really flies.”
He concluded: “The last thing I want to say to you, all my friends, is that you guys are amazing. I would not be who I am nor would I have achieved as much without all of you always having my back. These memories we have together will always stay with us as we go on to achieve something amazing in our own lives.”