Inspiring Insights from a Graduate of An All Girls School

Cristina Polenica attended Queen of Peace High School located in Burbank, Illinois from 2008-2012. Cristina currently lives in Evanston and is in her senior year at Northwestern University.

Tell us a little about your experiences attending an all girls school. What did you love the most? What would you like others to know about this experience?

I feel fortunate that I was able to experience an upbringing of private Catholic education, both co-ed and single-gender, from kindergarten through high school. I was privileged enough, after taking the high school entrance exam, to receive academic scholarships that made attending my all-girls high school easier. I also feel quite fortunate to be part of a supportive community of young women. I loved the tight-knit feeling of Queen of Peace. I knew every single girl in my class of 2012 by name and face, even if we didn’t talk every day because of being in different classes or clubs. As a side note, I also enjoyed wearing uniforms, because my biggest fashion decision was which cute knee socks, or mismatched ankle socks, I would wear. It really saved time in the morning! I focused more on my studies and friendships than my appearance. What I loved the most was the sense I felt that our teachers truly cared about us. They wanted to see us succeed; they got to know our evolving personalities over four years; and they encouraged us to think outside the box and break boundaries. There were teachers who noticed greatness in me that I wasn’t always sure of in myself, especially when it came time to apply to colleges.

What are three qualities you would use to describe yourself?

Our school mission encouraged every student to be confident, competent, and courageous Women of Peace. I would use these three words to describe myself today, even though achieving each of them is always an ongoing process. Like anyone, there are days that I doubt myself — but I know that I am capable of displaying, feeling, and owning all three of those attributes. I draw strength from my experiences in high school that prepared me to grow and blossom into the woman I am today, soon to graduate from my dream university.