Class of 1979 Alumni Panel


On Oct. 18, CI’s class of 1979 reunited at the Islands once again to share advice, guidance, and insight as to how CI prepared them for their current careers. A panel of nine alumni gathered in the library to meet with Raiders and discuss the various paths CI opened for each of them.

The careers introduced ranged from a banker and small business owner to a superior court judge and engineer. Each individual first introduced themselves, shared their prior and current professions and then were asked a series of questions by an assistant principal, Ms. Wendi Butler.

Here are a few words of wisdom and personal anecdotes shared by some members of the CI class of ‘79:

Mr. Victorino Mercado, a senior civilian currently working at the Pentagon, shared some advice regarding a prominent fear many students encounter: discomfort. He emphasized the importance of exploration and overcoming personal limitations. “Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Don’t limit yourself,” says Mr. Mercado.

Ms. Fides May La Roy, a director of choral activities for the Palm Springs school district, touched on a topic that is often undiscussed in classrooms. While still encouraging the ambition to pursue higher education, Ms. May La Roy made sure to validate aspirations that don’t require going to college. “You can be successful and not go to college,” says Ms. May La Roy. “If you know what you want to do and have a mentor that’ll help you get there. Go for it!”

Mr. Bernie LaForteza, an LA county superior court judge, emphasized how crucial it is to build relationships with teachers and appreciate their service as instructors. He explained how CI’s ASB director at the time positively impacted his life by demonstrating the importance of leadership. “He mentored me and inspired me to become a leader,” says Mr. LaForteza. “Believe me. When you leave here, you’re going to remember the teachers that impacted your life.”

Ms. Myra DeLeon, an engineer for Northrop Grumman Corporation, shared her experience with the struggle of maintaining balance and order as an involved student. She was involved in several activities throughout high school including student government, Asian-American club and the California Scholarship Federation. Ms. DeLeon explained that her involvement helped her decide on her career choice and exposed her to new subjects. “It’s important to be because you learn about other areas that you wouldn’t normally learn in your classrooms,” says Ms. DeLeon.

The 40th reunion of the CI class of 1979 was undoubtedly full of nostalgia, reminiscence and appreciation for the Islands. Raiders not only got a glimpse of how CI has evolved but also got to witness the ambition and success that CI has the ability to ignite within students.