Theresa Giralt is a Senior at Florida State University in the College of Communication, School of Communication Science and Disorders. She attended Holy Comforter at the Miccosukee Road campus through 3rd grade and the Fleischmann Road campus from 4th through 8th grade.
Theresa accompanied Dr. Selena Snowden, Professor of Audiology at Florida State University, on a mission trip to Guatemala in an effort to provide hearing screenings, health care, preventative medicine, and hearing aids to the indigenous Mayan population.
We asked Theresa about her experiences at Holy Comforter and how those experiences helped to prepare her for who she is today.
What are your fondest memories of your time at Holy Comforter?
“I grew up watching the new campus develop, so I have fond memories of seeing those buildings for the first time. I remember that the administrators always knew our names. In fact, my younger sister was part of Mr. Klekamp’s first year and he promised to learn everyone’s name and did!”
Was there a teacher, or teachers, who impacted your educational path? “Ms. Dunbar, Ms. Jung, Mrs. Wiley and Mrs. Vernon are only a few of the teachers whom I will remember for the rest of my life. They each influenced who I am today.”
Why Communication Disorders? “I knew I wanted to go into the health field. My parents encouraged me to shadow several different fields of study, including accounting, psychology, etc. I always enjoyed linguistics and grammar. Audiology and Speech Pathology is just a natural fit.”
Is this your first mission trip? “Yes”
How does the experience compare to your expectations? “This experience has been much more rewarding than I expected. Seeing our interactions with the patients, and how we are truly impacting their quality of life here in Guatemala. Being able to witness people experience an improvement in their lives in a moment is very satisfying.”
What are your thoughts on Guatemala and the culture of the country so far? “The people here take nothing for granted. Theirs is a culture that is welcoming, patient, and thankful. I found myself apologizing to them from time to time about how long things were taking and about technological issues. They were so appreciative of the time that we were giving them and of our overall care for them, that they were unphased by any delays or inconveniences.”
Do you feel that your fluency with Spanish has benefited the team in Guatemala? “I feel like I have a better understanding of what the patient is feeling and that I can relate to them in a more direct and significant manner. It is also rewarding to know that my peers are relying on me to assist them in our endeavors.”
Do you think you will continue mission work at some point in the future? “This is definitely not my last mission trip. My experiences and upbringing have influenced me to focus on the needs of others. This trip has cemented those ideals.”
What message do you have for current HCES students? “Stay busy. Find the things that interest you and get involved: extra-curricular; language; an instrument; volunteerism (specific or otherwise). Get involved and stay involved. Live life and work to improve the lives of others whom you encounter.”
Looking back on your time at Holy Comforter, what do you miss or do you credit for your current achievement and success? “I really appreciate the size of the school and the classes, especially the teacher to student ratio. Looking back, those things were so advantageous. HCES helped me to stay more balanced as a person as I progressed through school. The level of teacher concern; exposure to religious studies; a focus on empathy and caring for others; perspective on life and the future. These are all areas of focus that helped to formulate the direction of my moral compass. I am forever a part of Holy Comforter, and Holy Comforter is forever a part of me.”
Join us in congratulating Ms. Theresa Giralt on her accomplishments and in wishing her tremendous success in the future!
This article was contributed by Ryan Snowden, our Athletic Director and Middle School Dean who was also on the trip with Theresa and interviewed her while in Guatemala.