The Mount is a home to many of its students and the alumni who graduated from a school with such pride, opportunities and an abundance of people who care go on to make a huge difference in not just the community, but the world. However, these alumni do not forget about the four years where it all began. Pete DeCandia, class of 2013, reached out to the Echo to tell us the incredible story of how he ended up bringing in two promising members of the Mount’s first year class.
When DeCandia graduated with a business major, he joined Teach for America on a whim. “I grew so much during my first two years in the classroom,” he said, discussing the way his views on life changed in such a new experience. He became a teacher for the AVID program, which stands for Advancement Via Independent Determination, at Woodlawn High School in West Baltimore. In his first year post-grad from the Mount, he started teaching for the program and in particular, taught two students who he described as incredible and bright, Lisa Bacon and Cory Hudson. Through the AVID program, these students learned a wide variety of skills to prepare them for college and position them on a path to success in both applying to college and excelling in college. The Mount alumni was the program coordinator for AVID, and in the program, students experienced many things like graded Cornell notes, learning logs, GPA tracking and especially field trips to multiple colleges. Both Lisa and Cory accredit the main reason they applied to the Mount to DeCandia. “Mr. DeCandia showed me what the Mount can do and we came on a field trip here in 10th grade. One of my biggest role models is Pete DeCandia and after seeing what the Mount did for him, I wanted to give it a try”, said Hudson.
“To me, the AVID group as a whole felt like we were at an advantage to other kids at the school. We were looking at colleges, setting goals, making a plan for where our grades needed to be in order to get into the school we wanted…I don’t think I’d be in college if it weren’t for AVID, depending on the high school I went to”, said Lisa about the program’s benefits to her. A Mount grad went on to change the lives of many students in his career and two of his own students are now seeking out the same opportunities for growth here at the Mount. To reflect on how things came full circle, DeCandia said, “Part of the cool piece of this story is you have an alumnus from the Mount going to teach at a very low-achieving urban school in Baltimore. These two students ended up choosing to go Mount St. Mary’s and everything came to fruition. How amazing that it was at my alma mater and I was the person pushing them to get here.” DeCandia still supports, encourages and roots for these two students who helped bring to light the way things can come back around in the best way.