Two students from Douglaston are headed to prestigious colleges in the fall after a less-than-normal senior year of high school.
Julia Manuali and Jacqueline Fiechter, both lifelong Douglaston residents and graduates of the Loyola School in Manhattan, accepted offers to go to Georgetown University and Boston College, respectively.
Loyola held a graduation ceremony for the class of 2021 at St. Ignatius Loyola Church. Those who were vaccinated were permitted to remove their masks, while students who weren’t fully vaccinated wore masks and remained socially distanced.
“It was really nice to see everyone smile and be able to take all our pictures with our masks off,” said Fiechter, whose parents and uncle watched her graduate.
Manuali echoed this sentiment and shared that her mother, who is a member of the school’s board, presented her high school diploma. She said that her mom, dad, brother and grandmother were present for the ceremony.
“There was a nice reception after and it felt really normal. Definitely more normal than I thought it was going to be,” Manuali said.
Prior to attending Loyola, the lifelong Douglaston resident went to the Buckley Country Day School in Roslyn, New York. Her mother attended Georgetown and Manuali said she always spoke highly about her alma mater.
“I really wanted to continue the Jesuit education because I feel like Loyola gave me so much through that,” Manuali said. “I found a love for doing community service and volunteering because of how Loyola is Jesuit and learning how to be a man or woman for others.”
Due to her love of both science and helping others, she applied and was accepted as a biology major on the premed track.
“The reason I want to be a doctor is because of how I started to like helping others and volunteering. So I just want to be able to help others throughout whatever I do in my life or in my job,” she said.
Throughout her time in high school, Manuali participated in volunteer work and service trips to both domestic and international locales.
During her most recent service trip to Paraguay, Manuali and other volunteers worked to build a house for the locals. In Belize, she was part of a volunteer team that built a multipurpose basketball court. In school, she was also a member of the book club and diversity club.
“My favorite thing about Loyola is just the community because it’s so small,” Manuali said. “We have sports night where everyone goes and cheers on the boys varsity basketball team and the girls varsity basketball team. We have a day called Christmas at Loyola where we have relay races and celebrate Christmas together. I really think Loyola taught me how to be a part of a community and I think that will really help me in life.”
Fiechter also attended Buckley County Day School before attending Loyola. At the beginning of November 2020, she applied early decision to Boston College and was accepted on Dec. 5. She told QNS that she got an insider look at the school from her brother who goes to school there.
“I got to hear a lot about the different teachers and courses offered from the school because my brother goes there and he got to tell me a lot about the school that you would normally be able to hear in meetings that they would provide,” Fiechter said.
After interning at TPG Architecture for three consecutive summers, she discovered her love for marketing and enrolled in Boston College’s Carroll School of Management.
“I’m also really good at math and numbers so I thought maybe I’d be good at finance. So once I get to BC, I’m gonna definitely take both courses in both of the topics and see which one I’m better at,” Fiechter said.
Outside of Loyola, Fiechter danced ballet three to four times a week since she was 4 years old. In school, she participated in the Amnesty International Club, eventually becoming club leader, became one of 12 peer leaders in her senior year, tutored underclassmen and played volleyball in her first two years.
Coming from a smaller student body at Loyola, Fiechter said she will miss the teachers who “really do care for the students.”
“You can tell they put in a lot of effort to make sure we succeed, especially during the pandemic when it was really hard at first to learn over Zoom because we’ve never done anything like that. They really put in the time and patience with us for us to get used to it,” she said. “They were always there to provide extra credit assignments or extra office hours to make sure we understood what we were doing and were able to keep our grades up.”