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Lukas Werner

“I have learned a lot of math and learned a lot of science, and I have grown as a writer, but I feel like I’ve also grown as a person,” valedictorian Mary Loeb said.

Valedictorian Mary Loeb

June 1, 2022

Even as she moves to Newton, Massachusetts to attend Boston College, valedictorian Mary Loeb strives to make connections and listen to other people’s stories. Whether it’s through service work, tutoring, or journalism, “one thing that has been reinforced for me throughout high school was just the importance of having empathy and compassion for others,” she said. 

Loeb said that this human-focused interest stems from participating in service. An example of this was when she started the bone marrow drive at La Salle her sophomore year. Eight years ago, Loeb’s family friend, Jess, was diagnosed with leukemia — and in order to survive, she needed a stem cell transplant. 

“For most people who need this treatment, there’s this registry called the bone marrow registry,” Loeb said, where patients can look for donors that are a genetic match to them for a transplant. 

Jess found a match from her brother, but most people fail to find their matches on the bone marrow registry, especially people with more diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Jess is part Puerto Rican and part Hawaiian, “so had her brother not been able to provide her with the bone marrow transplant she needed, it’s likely she wouldn’t be here today,” Loeb said. “My motivation for organizing the bone marrow drive at La Salle was to help bring more diverse donors to this registry so that more people like Jess are able to receive life-saving transplants.” 

In addition to the bone marrow drive, another form of service for Loeb was participating in the JoinPDX immersion during her junior year. Typically, this immersion is an overnight trip, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was converted into an online book group. For the immersion, Loeb read “Voices From the Street,” which “was just super influential to me,” she said. “I can’t really fully understand the challenges that people experiencing homelessness go through, and I just learned how important their perspective was.”

On top of that, Loeb volunteered at the Rahab’s Sisters Shelter two to three Fridays every month during the COVID-19 pandemic with her mother and sister, working in either the clothing closet or in the kitchen.

“I was grateful that Rahab’s Shelter was offering ways to volunteer for people,” Loeb said. “It was just a really rewarding mode of service during a pandemic when it felt like there weren’t a lot of super safe ways to help, but there was a lot of help that was needed.”

This sense of service is also reflected in Loeb’s journalism work. Loeb has been a part of The Falconer for five semesters, and this year is an Editor in Chief of the publication. 

At first, Loeb was nervous to conduct interviews, but now, “I’ve just felt like it’s a real privilege to get to listen to others’ stories and be able to share them with the broader community,” she said. “I was encouraged by Mr. Kane and others in the class to take on stories that interested me, … and after having the initial opportunity to speak to different people I never really had the opportunity to talk to, I just found it really interesting.” 

Loeb has not only grown in her classes at La Salle, but “I feel like I’ve also grown as a person,” she said. “I feel like I’ve not only learned how to write an essay or how to do well on a test or solve a complicated problem, but also on how we can begin to kind of focus on things like social justice issues and the importance of cultivating inclusivity and equity within my own community and the broader community.”

Loeb said that her teachers are the ones to credit for this, and that “all my teachers have definitely had an impact on me … that’s one of the things that I really value the most about my time at La Salle.” 

This year, Loeb is enrolled in five AP courses, but she has especially appreciated her AP Chemistry and AP Calculus BC courses, because “they’ve been super influential in deciding my future career path,” she said.

In AP Chemistry, “the tests in that class were some of the most challenging I’ve taken in my time at La Salle, but I also found that they were super rewarding, and that class as a whole is just super rewarding,” she said. “[Science teacher Mr. Matt Owen] is just so willing to help stay after school [to] support students on topics that they need help with.”

And in AP Calculus, Loeb appreciated working on the whiteboard with her “math family” on complicated math problems. “It just made it a really great learning environment for me,” she said. “I feel like, a lot of times doing corrections can become tedious and less of a learning experience, and more of just doing the corrections to get the points, but doing them in my math family, I always felt like I really learned a lot.”

If Loeb could give a piece of advice to the incoming freshman class, it would be to “try to take advantage of the unique opportunities that there are at La Salle,” Loeb said. “I know high school can be challenging and a rough time for some people, but I also feel like La Salle has really great support systems and really good opportunities for extracurriculars.”

For Loeb, this meant participating in volleyball at La Salle during her freshman and sophomore years and being a part of La Salle’s swim team since her sophomore year. 

Through volleyball, where Loeb played as a defensive specialist, “I was able to meet a lot of my current friends and just kind of form initial connections that made starting at a new school a lot easier,” Loeb said. 

And as for the swim team, at first, “I just never really saw myself doing swimming in high school,” Loeb said, but she joined the team with a friend and found that she enjoyed it. “I just really appreciated the community and the environment,” she said. 

Overall, “I would definitely just encourage people to get involved in what they’re interested in, or what they think they might be interested in,” Loeb said. “Getting involved has helped me grow a lot and learn what I’d like to do next.”

While Loeb said she is nervous to move far away from her family for college, she heard that Boston College has a new program for sciences and engineering, which is part of why she chose the school. “I feel like their engineering major, which is called human-centered engineering, is really unique and will be cool to be a part of,” Loeb said. “It has a focus on addressing problems through a humanistic lens, and focusing on engineering for certain issues and for people, not just to engineer things.” 

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About the Writer
Photo of Brooklyn Chillemi
Brooklyn Chillemi, Editor in Chief

Senior Brooklyn Chillemi moved to Oregon from Colorado about five years ago, and loves the rainy weather and vibrant greenery here.

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