Going into freshman year, Brandon Villanueva had a chance to play varsity soccer for the Omaha South High Packers. He’d been playing select soccer for years with members of South’s team, and the school’s coach was recruiting him. Instead, he chose Gross Catholic.
“I felt it would be more challenging,” he said of Gross Catholic’s academics. “The teachers demand more of me.”
Going into the fall of his senior year, Brandon is taking five AP classes, playing select soccer, punting for the football team, and serving as president of the student council.
“I think this is just another challenge that will be difficult but something I can do,” he said of the year ahead.
Brandon likes to set goals that he knows he can achieve. Then he creates another set of goals that are more difficult to reach. Going into college, Brandon is thinking about majoring in biology and math with a minor in Spanish. His more difficult goal is to become an anesthesiologist.
“I always thought it would be great to save lives,” he said.
Parents Erick and Irma support his dream of being a doctor, but they are also realistic about the amount of hard work and time it will take. They know all about achieving goals through hard work. The couple immigrated from Mexico to have a better life. They make ends meet by working several jobs. Erick is a custodian at Gross Catholic and Our Lady of Lourdes School, and he helps a friend cut trees. Irma is also a custodian and cleans houses, then cleans a Keno bar at night.
“Although they have to work harder,” Villanueva said, “it is much better here.”
The sacrifices his parents have made to send him, his brother Leo (’11) and sister Brenda (’15) to Gross Catholic are described in an essay Brandon wrote for the American Federation for Children, a non-profit that works to empower families, especially lower-income families, with the freedom to choose the best k-12 education for their children.
“I see many people who are more privileged than I am,” he wrote. “Being a minority and having the same opportunity they have means a lot because my mother and father have worked hard so that we could become equals in a sense.”
As a result, his parents set high expectations that he strives to meet and exceed. Villanueva said his father believes the only way to have a better life is through an education. He wrote about how his older brother Leo once told their dad he wanted to grow up to be just like him. His father’s response was “No, I want you to have it better.”
Passing up a chance to play varsity soccer at South High for other athletic, spiritual and leadership pursuits at Gross Catholic was the right decision. Brandon wrote, “I am grateful for my school and for my parents’ willingness to work hard so I can have better.”
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About Gross Catholic
One of Nebraska’s premier private schools, Gross Catholic High School is a faith and family-based community committed to developing Christian leaders through academic excellence in the Marianist tradition. Recognized locally for its outstanding education, welcoming atmosphere, competitive sports programs, engaging activities, robust faith, and boundless service work, Gross Catholic has energized the Omaha area for over 50 years. We are Faithful, Compassionate, and Driven! We are Gross Catholic!
To discover the Gross Catholic difference, contact us at 402.734.2000 or visit our Admissions page at grosscatholic.org.