Haitian Project photo
Patricia Alexandre at medical school in Haiti.
Haitian Project photo
Patricia Alexandre at medical school in Haiti.
Have your teenager read this. It will show that almost anything is possible.

At 12 and wearing braids, Patricia Alexandre left her parents and two sisters in the slums of Port au Prince. She was to attend Louverture Cleary, a tuition-free Catholic school for students whose parents cannot afford education. Patricia was nervous to depart from her family and become a boarder, but also was eager to make them proud. So she worked hard.

The effort did not go unnoticed. Because of academic achievements in her first year, Patricia received a scholarship for her second year. Staff and volunteers at the school, which is heavily supported by Portland Catholics, saw Patricia's drive and decided to give her extra challenges. She rose to the occasion time and time again.

Patricia’s academic excellence during her first year at school earned her a scholarship in her second year, probably including money from Portland.  

Even when an earthquake made Port au Prince a temporary hell, Patricia kept working, in addition to helping her family and school recover from damage. The sight of so many injured people affirmed her desire to enter medicine.

“The staff and volunteers at Louverture Cleary taught me that women can do whatever we want if we work for it," Patricia says. She cites Brian Moynihan, the U.S. deacon who runs the school, who tells students the best way to show love for family and country is to work hard for them.

Patricia did keep working hard, hard enough the l’Université de Notre Dame d’Haïti gave her a full scholarship for medical school, where she is now one of the top students.

"I hope that my actions will also influence others,” Patricia says.

Education is our best hope. About 94 percent of Louverture Cleary graduates still live in Haiti and more than 70 percent have attended or are enrolled in university.

The little Catholic school hopes to educate leaders to brighten the future of a nation long in the mire of poverty and oppression. We should all do what we can to help heroes like Patricia succeed.