Goal Five: Dignity

Goal Five: Dignity

“Trust the children and never let your confidence in them be easily shaken. Confidence begets confidence.”
-Cornelia Connelly

By Catherine Albornoz ‘98
Head of Mission & Campus Minister

Holy Child Network’s Goal Five is Dignity – to create a learning climate based on trust and reverence for the dignity and uniqueness of each person. From my perspective as both a Holy Child alumna and now in my role as Head of Mission & Campus Minister this has been my experience. Our school values each member; teachers treat students with respect and honor, really knowing each individual and her strengths and gifts well. Students value each classmate, her background and experiences, learning style, musical, artistic, academic and athletic gifts, and how they contribute to the community. I witness students celebrating college acceptances, sports victories, family happenings, and play try-outs together. I also see how students are aware of the challenges and setbacks of those around them and offer support. These, I believe, are examples where they honor each others’ dignity and show their support.

This year, in my new role as Head of Mission, the word dignity has taken on added meaning for my work, as we have framed our Catholic Mission and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work of the school around the uniting theme, “Human Dignity First and for Everyone,” as a guiding principle. We strive, as leaders, to continue to advance Holy Child as an institution that welcomes each of our community members in a way that allows all to bring their true, authentic selves to school every day to learn and grow together, and that embraces our racial, ethnic, religious, and neurodiversity, among others, fully. Holy Child has had successes and challenges over the years, and we are committed to continual growth and improvement around this goal of dignity. Each person is created in God’s image and likeness, and we need to ensure dignity for all, from our hallways to those we serve and partner with for our many community service efforts. This Goal, along with the other six, helps guide our practice so that Holy Child can be the place we strive for it to be for all of our community members. 

5 people with pile of wrapped Christmas gifts
Group of students volunteering with Special Olympics

By Meghan George | Class of 2024

The Goal that I will be reflecting on is Goal Five: Dignity. Holy Child creates a learning environment based on trust and reverence for the dignity and uniqueness of each person. Holy Child has helped me to discover my own uniqueness and gifts. Furthermore, Holy Child uncovers and celebrates each person’s individual gifts and accepts us for who we are. I have grown to respect myself and my worth. 

I think dignity means being respected and accepted for who you are, as well as respecting yourself. This means to be kind, respectful, and encouraging to everyone. We should treat others the way we would want to be treated. Furthermore, respect and dignity build trust, comfort, and happiness. Be someone who makes everyone feel worthy, respected, and important.

Student with Best Buddies
Student accepting Martha's Table award

O’Malley McGinn ’24 interviewed alumna Liz Guevara ’91 to learn about what Goal Five, Dignity, means to her and how dignity plays a role in her everyday life.

The Fifth Goal of the seven Goals of the Holy Child: Dignity. This Goal pledges to “create a learning climate based on trust and reverence for the dignity and uniqueness of each person.” Are there any traditions or memories that are recalled as you read this definition? If so, what are they?
Did each of the 43 girls in our class feel like they had dignity, trust, and an ability to be her full self while at Holy Child? Maybe each girl didn’t find that sense of belonging in the holistic class. However, I would not doubt that each girl found it within the more trusted circles of friendships that emerged within our class. That said, underlying the many insecurities and self-discovery process that each girl went through over our four years together, there still was a sense of sisterhood and respect that bonded us. It was very evident during our overnight senior retreat weekend. That senior retreat was special, as it was one of the few times I can remember each member of the class feeling dignity and trust as a whole, and where each person’s unique self was able to emerge and be embraced. 

Holy Child persistently attempts to do their best in including people of all interests, beliefs, etc. How did this effort allow you to flourish in the real world in accordance with those with interests and beliefs differing from your own?
The World Religions class was a favorite of mine and one of the most impressionable courses I had the opportunity to take at Holy Child. It provided understanding of the historic roots of our Faith, but also offered perspective on other religions – and it made it clear that people of all religions share a commonality in striving for a higher way of being – call it being more Godlike, more holy, or more Zen. The teachings from that class really helped me to assimilate into a large non-denominational university, to find belonging in a sorority that was known to be dominantly a Jewish sisterhood, to be open to dating outside of the faith, and to eventually finding my way in a career that is focused on inclusion and belonging. Learning to be open, for me, is centered in a place of being spiritually centered on trust in God and to be receptive to different perspectives and ways of operating. Having a strong educational foundation that is rooted in Christ’s teachings of acceptance, humility, forgiveness, and love, has enabled me to have the empathy and openness to create meaningful relationships in my personal and professional life.

The acceptance of uniqueness at Holy Child not only allows for inclusivity, but also for individuals to accept what makes them unique. How did your time at Holy Child allow for the dignity and self-worth held within yourself to grow?
I do think our teachers challenged us to delve deep within ourselves, to work outside of our comfort zone and to bring forth our unique thoughts on paper, in writing, projects, or in art. Having a good ratio of teachers to students also helped to build rapport and get individualized learning and support. Additionally, I was a recipient of financial support from Holy Child, which actually motivated me to get involved in as much as I could – putting me in a position to be a part of building belonging and getting involved with a diverse set of experiences. I participated in every club, I played my flute in masses and volunteered to be a lector, I played sports and participated in the school plays, I was editor-in-chief of our yearbook (learning what to do along the way), I joined MOAS and activities that could allow me to interact with other schools, and I worked hard to earn good grades and get into a great college. I did it all to feel worthy and to show gratitude for the financial support provided to remain at Holy Child. In a way, I felt lost in that persona because my actions were more rooted in what I thought I needed to do rather than what I really wanted to do. I maintained the approach of doing as much as I could in college but changed my motivational approach – choosing based on my personal interests instead of what I thought others expected of me. I was still focused on building a path that was gratifying through a sense of giving – of tapping into the gifts God gave me to position myself to be more helpful to others and to find ways to lift others up along the way. Professionally, I get to focus on building inclusive and diverse workforce environments, to shape talent development, and create social impact. My work is centered on building trust, supportive relationships, creating meaningful work opportunities and a culture of belonging in the workplace. I continue to bring forth the lessons from Holy Child in my work every day.