Chapter One: Who were you?
February 22, 2008. The day I was born. I was born into the life of Zoe O’Neal. My mom and dad welcomed me into the world at Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco. I grew up in a house with both parents and a brother. I’m African American and Filipino. For my elementary school, I went to Visitacion Valley.
Over time, my ideas of what I wanted to be have changed a lot. When I was around the ages of 5-10 I wanted to become a fashion designer. This idea all changed one day in the 4th grade. Our normal teacher was sick, so we had a substitute. She told us to write any story about any characters– a ton of freedom! That made me fall in love with the idea of writing. In 5th grade, I really started to explore this passion more and found out I kind of have a gift for writing. Towards the middle of 5th grade I had to start worrying about where I would go for middle school.
I was at my Auntie’s house one night and I was greeted by some unfamiliar faces. I was told that these 3 people were my cousins and they were telling my parents about an opportunity that would really help my future. At first I was skeptical. A school where I knew no one and it’s a private school? I was going to leave my friends behind. I didn’t want to go to any school without friends– who would? My dad wasn’t going to have my skepticism. He wanted me to go to the best school possible no matter what. When I had to shadow at the school for a day, I started to realize how much it was going to help me. It was then when I understood, I was going to this school. During the summer of 2019, I went to a summer camp and I was awoken by a message from a counselor. She told me that I had been accepted into the school. I was very grateful that I was accepted in. In late August of 2019, I went to FSA for my first day of school. That was the start of my middle school life.
Chapter Two: How have you grown as a scholar?
After being at FSA, I feel like I’ve grown more as a student. When I went to public school, I never thought about a religion class. I didn’t think much about learning about God in my school. Although I didn’t really think about God in school, I used to go to church. I stopped going around the time of 4th grade. When I joined the FSA community, I learned more about God and even improved my knowledge of religion. I’ve attended Masses and read the bible and all of these have helped me get a better idea of religion. I’ve grown religiously since elementary school and I’ll continue to grow.
Since joining FSA, I’ve had a love for ELA. Although I liked writing, I wasn't a strong writer. I focused on trying to expand my passion for writing and my overall ability to write. In my 3 years of being here, I've improved with my skills and grown to be a better author. I strived to be the best at it as I can. In addition to writing, I also love to read. Being here has helped me read much faster to enjoy books quicker. Reading is very important to me. I like to think that reading and writing go hand in hand with being an author. Learning and improving in both helped me gain the experience I need.
Chapter Three: How have you grown as a person?
When I was in elementary school, I was more interested in my studies, my friends, and that’s it. I never really thought about helping out in school or stepping up. I was also pretty shy, so for me, stepping up would be hard. Once I was in the 6th grade, I realized that I’d have to start building up my middle school life and my own confidence. That’s when I heard that the student council needed a 6th grade representative. I wanted to stand up and become the representative for my class. I had trouble getting my speech down due to a lack of confidence. I would often think that others wouldn’t vote for me, and I was pretty scared. That was up until I got the votes back. I had won! This really set the tone for me to become someone who would help in my school community. Now in 6th , 7th and 8th I’ve been in the student council with a goal to help the school. Joining has helped me grow with love for my other members, grow more confidence , and even lead the school as the current vice president. I’ve been able to help out in assembly at school and helped to create new ideas for the school. I also help the voices of the other students who tell me what they enjoy and would like to add to our school community and get that to the teachers as a member. I’ve grown to be more strong mentally and have strong leadership in the years I’ve been here.
Chapter Four: What are your talents/passions?
As I stated before, I have a big passion for writing and a smaller passion for art. In both, I’m able to express myself and present things that I am proud of. When I write it feels like it just comes so easily to me and words just flow. Although I procrastinate a lot on writing, I still love doing it. When I’m able to do art, I often do it for myself. Art is important to me since it’s just always been there for me. It’s like a friend I can always go to. The same holds true for writing. I feel connected and happy when I do these things. That’s why they are my “passions”.
Chapter Five: What does it all mean for your family?
I decided to interview my older brother since he’s always been there for me. I also realized that many people would’ve used their guardians or parents, but I wanted to talk to someone who’s grown up alongside me and has watched me grow up.
So I asked my first question ;“How have I grown as a person?”
The response he gave was that I’ve grown to be a very studious person who still “obviously” has room to grow more. I asked him what he meant by obviously as a joke because I thought he was being rude, but he responded by saying there are many things I do know but I can still grow to learn more.
The second question I asked was “what does me going to this school mean to you?” He responded quickly and said that he is extremely proud of the hard work that I’ve put in to get into Saint Ignatius. He then added that it actually meant a lot to him to see his younger sister going to such a prestigious school. In comparison to the schools he attended, I will be able to have better experiences and opportunities to find something that I could be passionate about.
The third question I asked was “how does it feel that your little sister is about to graduate middle school?” He had to think about this for a second,. but then responded. He said, this question made him feel old. We laughed then he gave me his real answer. He said that he remembered being in the 5th grade when I came home after being born and now to see me nearly in high school. It's crazy that time is flying, and in a matter of time you’ll be graduating from there too.
My last question to him was what would it mean for him to graduate high school? His answer was that it will be another proud moment because he knows that his baby sister really isn’t a baby girl at that point and that I will have to be ready to take on the world with whatever challenges it may bring.
After talking to my brother and looking over my life I can now say that, to me, success is happiness. It’s to live comfortably and to be happy. It means to make people happy and proud. Success is to me living life to its fullest, making myself and others happy, and being comfortable.