Griselda Carlos-Arzate | June 10, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - June 10, 2011

Griselda Carlos-Arzate

'We can totally do it'

Griselda Carlos-Arzate says she'll most miss the safe, warm feeling of Castilleja School when she moves across El Camino Real to Stanford University this fall.

As the daughter of a cook in the school's kitchen, Carlos-Arzate has been playing on the Bryant Street campus since she was a toddler — later attending summer camp there and, finally, feeling fortunate to gain admission to the school for the sixth grade.

Arriving as a student from a public school in Newark, Carlos-Arzate said she "was definitely at a disadvantage academically.

"There as catch-up I had to do, but nothing that set me back, because I had incredible support from everyone here," she said.

At Castilleja, Carlos-Arzate ran cross country for a few years and has played lacrosse for Castilleja all four years.

She also co-founded the school's Diversity Club, which aims to spread the word about the value of diversity through events such as "Mix it Up Day," in which students are randomly assigned to share lunch with others they wouldn't usually talk to.

The club also created a seventh-grade "diversity curriculum," talking to students about how to handle uncomfortable classrooms situations, such as when a teacher singles out a black student while teaching about slavery, she said.

Born in the United States to Mexican parents, Carlos-Arzate easily alternates between speaking Spanish and English, depending on the setting.

Though excited to venture out of the Castilleja bubble into a co-ed environment, she says she'll miss the close student-teacher bonds fostered at the school.

She won't miss "the feeling of constant work — always having to push yourself harder and harder."

History? International Relations? Carlos-Arzate is undecided about a college major, intending to "try a lot of general-education classes to narrow it down."

She's equally uncertain about where she sees herself in 10 years but expects her life will be different from that of her parents.

"I'm definitely a hard worker, but I can never work as hard as they do now. They got a minimal education. I'll have graduated from Castilleja and be going to Stanford. Things like that were unimaginable for them."

Her generation has been given a lot of "homework" by the older generation, she said.

"When we have speakers come here they talk about global warming and other problems they didn't see coming, and they say we'll have to solve it.

"My generation will have to take up those problems and create solutions and be innovative. And I think we can totally do it."

—Chris Kenrick


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