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#PREPpeople: Eric Encarnación '15
Posted 02/27/2020 02:44PM

#PREPpeople is one in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting the people of St. John's Prep

Eric Encarnación for #PREPpeopleHometown: Lawrence, MA

Education: Diploma, St. John’s Prep ’15; B.A., International Studies, Boston College

Title: Admission Counselor

Describe a teacher who inspired you growing up: “Mr. Cabrera and Mr. Santiago at St. John’s Prep. They taught me, for the first time in my life, that education goes beyond the classroom. I spent many hours talking to them about life, music, and how the world works. More than teachers, they were my role models, big brothers, and, at times, father figures. It was inspiring to see two young men of color thriving at a prestigious institution like St. John’s. The passion with which they teach and the way they get to know their students helped me to envision myself doing the same. I only hope I can have as much of an impact on my communities as they had on me.”

What do you love the most about working with you people every day?: “The best thing is how bright and quirky and awkward they can be. Young people, especially middle schoolers, haven’t learned that level of filtering—for better or for worse. While it definitely leads to some funny moments, there are also teachable moments, and there’s something incredibly endearing about that level of curiosity and optimism. They inspire me to never lose my curiosity and that healthy dose of childlike excitement and wonder.”

Which of the five Xaverian values—humility, compassion, simplicity, trust, or zeal—speaks to you most and why? “Zeal! In my view, all things in life are meant to be pursued with passion, excitement, and enthusiasm. Few things are as special as being part of a group of people who radiate energy. It can make even the most common and mundane activity seem fun. I’ve been so blessed this year to work in an office full of incredible people who work with zeal every day. I often think of (poet) Maya Angelou when I think of zeal. She said, ‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

If you had to pick one dimension (academic, social, athletic, co-curricular, etc.) of your SJP experience that's stuck with you to this day, what would it be? “In my opinion, what makes the Prep special is that it has a dimension that transcends those categories. The relationships between teachers and students that exist in the ‘in-between’ hours of our days are special. My favorite memories of the Prep were created during office hours, after school, or during lunch. I could spend hours talking to Mr. Pawlyk and Mr. Dooley about everything from career advice to laughing at parenting anecdotes. I could go on and on about memories like these that I experienced throughout my time as a student. Now, as a staff member, this special Prep dimension is even more evident. The Prep is special because it feels like home—a home we have built together. Just like a home, it has its challenges and unfinished edges, but at the end of the day, everyone in this home works toward the betterment of one another.”

If you could give a Prep student just one piece of advice, what would it be? “‘Never forget the power of asking for help.’ So much of your life can be enhanced if you’re just willing to ask. Ask for help, ask for advice, ask for a hug, ask for the sheer sake of your curiosity! No matter where you are, you will find someone who is willing to help you.”

Fun Fact: “I’ve been on three dance teams over the years and have learned many different styles of dance. Hip-Hop, Bachata, Merengue, Kizomba, Bhangra, Garba, Afro-Beats, Haka. Hopefully, I’ll learn many more. Also, I named my puppy, Kemba, after my favorite basketball player (Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker). It’s not always easy to admit, but I’m a die-hard Arsenal fan, too. Lastly, I once was mistaken for Miles Morales (best compliment ever since I love Spider-Man).”

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