Genesis Canizales
Xavier College Preparatory 2018


Most of my life was spent on the south side of the Salt River, an area where many know to be rampant with poverty and crime. My experiences for my young life were no different. I watched as my single mother struggled to make ends meet while she worked a low-income job to support three children.

Having been the eldest, I needed to mature at a young age to help out. Because of this, I learned to work hard and always help those around me in most need. My mother instilled in me to study hard and get good grades so that maybe one day I could attend college.

Attending a private Catholic high school was never in the plan for me. There was no way my family could have ever afforded the tuition.During eighth grade, I was informed of a scholarship program, Boys Hope Girls Hope (BHGH), and quickly, I was faced with opportunities I never thought possible.

Boys Hope Girls Hope, through organizations like Catholic Education Arizona, would provide me with funds for a private school experience.

BHGH would provide me with secure and stable housing with seven other young girls, all of whom had a similar upbringing as myself. Soon, I grew in self-confidence, and with the support of my new family, I found myself excelling in school.

After graduating high school, I went on to attend Smith College in Massachusetts and experienced a real winter for the first time! This year, due to COVID-related campus closings I decided to take a year of service before continuing my studies in Environmental Science and Policy next fall. This year I joined Boys Hope Girls Hope as a National Volunteer Corps service member and work directly with the scholars at Girls Hope. My hope was to provide the same dedication and love I was shown in high school.

What impact did Catholic schools have on you?

My time at Xavier provided me with some much-needed structure. I learned time management skills, study techniques, and a good work ethic all of which have been skills that I use in and out of the classroom.

Going to Xavier also allowed me to volunteer directly in my community. I know that attending a private high school did prepare me to be successful at a prestigious private college.

Because of my education at Xavier and the support from BHGH, college was no longer a maybe but a definite. I knew that I was going to go to college, and I had been prepared by the rigorous learning environment. I was faced with multiple college acceptances as well as full-ride scholarships.


One of my accomplishments is graduating high school. For many people in my home community this was not a possibility. Even though I excelled at my public elementary school, coming to Xavier was another story. At my elementary school, I was a big fish in a small pond and was not prepared for Xavier. I struggled my first semester but quickly adapted. I would graduate Xavier as a member of the National Honor Society and with a full scholarship to Smith College.

My greatest accomplishment this year has been giving back to Boys Hope Girls Hope. The COVID-19 crisis has caused many to reevaluate what is important to them and reschedule their 2020 plans.

Before the pandemic, I had planned to study abroad for the entire academic year in Denmark. After the cancelation of the 2020-2021 study abroad.

Joining BHGH as a staff member has given me a powerful experience to grow as a person and gain work experience before graduating. Having concrete work experience under my belt will further support me when I enter the workforce after college.


During this gap year, I want to have a meaningful impact on the lives of others. I know working at Boys Hope Girls Hope will prepare me not only to enter the professional workforce but also prepare me for my future career goals of joining the Peace Corps after college.

Currently, I am looking for summer internships before I return to Smith in September. I have reapplied for study abroad, and hopefully I will be able to study abroad the second semester. In the future, I hope to work in a position where I can educate others about the importance of sustainability and the environment. This would not be possible without generous donors who take advantage of the Private Education Tax Credit.