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2/26/2013 9:58:00 AM
Nativity graduate gets a chance at a top boarding school
Paris Lowe
Paris Lowe

VICTORIA, B.C. — John Herpers knows from personal experience that the right school at the right time in a young person’s life can make all the difference. As a new boarding student entering St. Michaels University School in Victoria, British Columbia in 1960, life was rocky for Herpers.

"I had lots of challenges,” he acknowledges. But the rigors of boarding school life and ongoing attention from the staff helped him rebound and set him on a path to achievement.

“Without St. Michaels University School,” he says, “my life would have turned out very differently.”

When he first learned about Portland’s St. Andrew Nativity School, Herpers recognized the same dynamic at work. Nativity, a project of the Jesuits of the Oregon Province, offers rigorous academics and a structured environment to help low-income students succeed. Herpers believed strongly that St. Michaels would be a good high school environment for St. Andrew's promising eighth graders. So he assembled a coalition of fellow St. Michaels alumni and Portland friends to sponsor a scholarship for Nativity graduates.

Paris Lowe is the second student to benefit from Herpers' project. A third generation Northwesterner, Lowe was raised in a Christian home where she was taught the importance of positive relationships and helping others.

"Education is important," Lowe says. "It improves our chances of success and of making a strong contribution to the world."

Since starting at St. Michaels two and half years ago, Lowe has made the most of the many learning opportunities in her multi-cultural boarding environment. "Everything about SMUS supports the strong value I place on education," she says. "My experience here has helped me to think outside the box."

Currently a junior, Lowe recently hosted and presented at a conference on global responsibility for young leaders. Her talk focused on the connection between maternal health and child development and the importance of providing support and care for mothers that fosters healthy physical, emotional and social development in their children. She also facilitated a session in which participants considered challenges and opportunities in their own communities.

Moving forward, Lowe is researching top American universities with the hope of obtaining a degree in nursing. Following university, she plans to travel to developing world countries to help train nurses and doctors with child delivery and to work at reducing health risks for both mother and child.

"I have been so inspired by the work my mom has done in her community and by John Herpers’ involvement in my life that my ultimate goal is to make a difference," Lowe says. "I want to have a positive impact on each and every person I come in contact with throughout my lifetime."

Herpers’ original experiment in connecting a St. Andrew Nativity School student with St. Michaels University School has surpassed his expectations and given him something he didn’t expect. “I’ve gotten so attached to these kids,” he says. “It’s a big deal, watching how far they grow with this experience.”

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