Huguenot Academy Helps Senior Conquer Adversity

When New Rochelle High School senior Jenniffer Avelar came to Huguenot Academy during the 2020-2021 school year, her junior year, she had only four credits.


Today, she has not only made up the credits she lacked, but also is a high-achieving student with enough credits to graduate. Her inspirational story showcases the strengths of Huguenot Academy and is a testament to her own hard work and perseverance.


Avelar was in a dark place when she arrived at Huguenot, facing many challenges in her life in and out of school. 


“I went through traumatic events that I should’ve talked about when they occurred, but instead I kept silent,” she said. “My mental health drained me little by little. On top of these situations, home wasn’t my favorite place to call, well, home.”


Avelar needed help, but said she kept quiet until one day she realized she no longer recognized herself. She said she had fallen into such a deep depression and become so solitary that she did not feel mentally stable enough to come to school.


It came to a point where Avelar had to be hospitalized. But the troubles didn’t stop—the cycle kept repeating for another year, resulting in her failing 10th grade. 


“That’s where it all hit me,” she said. “This was one of those ‘wake up!’ moments. I changed my bad habits slowly, even if it was difficult and at times I just wanted to give up, [knowing] bad habits are easier and good habits are hard to build.”


She points to arriving at Huguenot Academy as a turning point in her life.

“The drastic change I achieved in this academy not only helped me turn my life around, but also helped me see how much I have to offer,” she said.


Avelar pointed to who she referred to as her “guardian angels,” Huguenot Academy Director Andrea Schwach and guidance counselor Mariana Burgos, for the role they played in helping her feel like she was strong and capable.


“They never made me feel excluded, or as if I wasn’t able to be something,” she said. “They never made me feel like my options were little.”


She also credited her parents, saying they went from a relationship built on misunderstanding to having a much healthier relationship in which she now feels like she can more easily communicate with them.


To other students who might be in a similar situation to where Avelar was a couple years ago, she encourages them to engage in introspection and to make the hard choices, regardless of how lost or confused they might feel. 


“Remember that your story isn’t over yet,” she said.


As she reaches the end of high school, Avelar feels a lot of gratitude for the work she’s put in and those who supported her in getting to this position.


“I look a few years back and still can’t believe I am in this place academically, and in this place in general,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m alive today.”