Hello, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Sofia D’Amico. As I sat down to write this, the first thing I thought was, wow four years is actually a long time. In fact, it is the longest consecutive number of years I’ve been at a single school. A lot has happened in four years. When I came to Catalina I was full of fear and self-hate and teenage angst. I was not at all sure of myself, my values, or my goals for the future. I struggled with depression and self-harm, often feeling isolated and friendless. I can say with confidence that I am not the same person that I was freshman year by any means. While I honor her and value the lessons she taught me, I am so relieved that she is in the past, because quite frankly, I love who I am today, and while I am not done evolving, I have reached peace with myself.
In my sophomore year I really focused on self-acceptance. I went through the process of learning to look in the mirror and not completely hate what I see. I came to love my mind too, accepting my thoughts, validating my emotions, and fostering my character. I accepted my eccentricities and learned to love all the things that make me who I am. After I could do this, I was able to truly let my friends into my life. In junior year, I really became close to the friends I have today. They helped to lift me up and taught me that sometimes laughing is the best remedy. To you I say, cherish yourself as your own best friend first, love the journey, love the people in it, love the mosaic of moments that make life what it is, the good and the bad.
Catalina has offered me a loving and supportive community. I am so grateful for all the pieces that make Catalina what it is. I love the jagged coastal cliffs of the peninsula, the fog and the sound of seagulls. I love KK’s, Ring Week, Cake Auction, and Community Dinner. I love flopping on my bed in my dorm room after a long day of school, the sound of the resident faculty kids playing outside at dinner, the new science building, and even all the plants on campus that give me terrible allergies. More importantly, I love the people at Catalina. I will miss saying hi to Leo in the kitchen, Father Marini, my teachers and mentors and friends. The community has essentially been a massive safe haven for me in that I have always felt warm, loved, and valued. The Catalina community was there for me through ups and downs, both personally and in my family. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for the community that Catalina has offered me, and I will never ever take that for granted, and I urge you not to, either. Remember to be kind to one another, to be kind to yourself, to always take pictures, to listen to your heart, to sleep when you are tired, to laugh ’til you can’t breathe, to wear sunscreen every day, to eat whatever you want, to talk to your parents because they love you very much, and to never let anyone make you feel unworthy or inferior. The experience I gained at Catalina was so incredibly special and better than I could have ever imagined. While I am ready to depart and take on the next chapter of my life at Baylor University, I will hold Santa Catalina School in my heart forever and know that my life has been significantly changed by my time here. Thank you.