Galilea Bocanegra graduated from Manchester Valley High School Monday night with a long record in service organizations and a legal internship under her belt.
She caught the bug for community service her freshman year when she volunteered with Special Olympics. From there she decided to join the Key Club, a student service organization for which her freshman seminar teacher Kate Rudy was the advisor.
“Next thing, I knew I was getting involved in a lot of clubs, because I just am really social and I like to help people out,” Bocanegra said.
Upon graduation, she was the secretary of the National Honors Society, President of the service-oriented Key Club and the co-secretary of the Future Business Leaders of America. She had accumulated more than 900 service learning hours.
“I view her as the epitome of what a good student is,” said Career Connections Coordinator Susan Getty. “She gives to the community, but then she also gave back in the school as a peer facilitator and academic assistant.”
During her time in high school, she has served as a student counselor for Carroll County Outdoor School three times.
“I did it as many times as I could,” she said.
Being recognized as an outdoor mentor there was one of her biggest accomplishments. Another was participating with the Key Club in putting on the prom for senior citizens at the North Carroll Senior Center.
“Since I was a freshman, we have been raising our attendance every year. So that was pretty cool, having people around the community know what we do, and getting more people to come every year,” she said.
The first semester of her senior year, Bocanegra interned with the firm Hill, Barnes & McInerney, LLC in Westminster.
Getty, who helped her secure the internship, said, “It was a fabulous opportunity for her, and she just approached it with enthusiasm.”
Getty tried to impress upon her the opportunity not just to learn about the law profession from her employers, but the role of women in the workplace. The firm is all female.
And as an intern, Bocanegra said she wasn’t just fetching coffee. Her duties included reading legal files, helping to prepare cases for trial and sitting in on many of those cases.
“For most of my internship, almost every day, I was in the courtroom with them. And I was watching them do their thing. They took me to traffic court, they took me to immigration cases, they took me on criminal cases, domestic cases. So it was really interesting, I got to really experience what it was like on their end,” she said.
This solidified her plans to go into the legal field in college.
In school service
English teacher Chris Bouselli taught Bocanegra for two AP classes and also hired her as his writing assistant, a role similar to a T.A. in a college course. She was his “right hand man” in class and also tutored her peers one-on-one.
Bouselli said it was not just his student’s skill in writing, but her perseverance and her integrity that made him confident in picking her for that role.
“She has an outgoing, social, easy to approach personality. Sometimes when students wouldn’t talk to me, they would talk to her,” he said.
She isn’t the type to coast by on natural talent. She might not start at the top of a class, but by the end, her consistent effort will likely get her there.
He said she shows, “a willingness to grow and take criticism and get better. She never let her ego get in the way of her progress….That’s just huge part of being a successful person”
Bocanegra plans to pursue a four-year degree at Florida Gulf Coast University in legal studies with a Spanish minor.
“I'm not sure if that's what I want to do. But as of right now, that's what I'm interested in,” she said.
She hopes to keep up with service clubs including Key Club at the college level.
Going forward, she’ll miss all of the bonds she formed with staff and administrators at Manchester Valley, she said. But one thing she won’t miss? AP classes.
Perhaps with all of the organizations she joined during high school, her advice for incoming freshmen is not surprising.
“Oh, I would definitely say get involved with as much as you can,” she said. Some of those things may not turn out the be a good fit, but, “you definitely can find where you're meant to be if you get as involved as you can, whether it's joining a sports team, joining clubs … I would also say to take a foreign language class.”
How many graduated? 297
Who is the Valedictorian? Matthew Arch Fairchild
Who gave the commencement address? Mrs. Tina Thomen, English Teacher
What percentage plan to go to a 4-year school: 40%
What percentage plan to go to a 2-year school? 29%
What percentage plan to join the workforce? 7%
What percentage plan to enlist in the military? 3%