Senior Spotlight: Clarissa Mata

Tonight, the Wildcat Class of 2019 will officially close the door on their school career at Jenison. For each of those students – and their families, this evening represents a lifetime of hard work and perseverance, with hopeful eyes looking into the future. 

One of those students is Clarissa Mata. Clarissa is a bright young woman with a compassionate heart and big plans – she also happens to be one of the first within her extended family to reach the achievement of high school graduation.

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“We won’t see real change until we speak up.” Clarissa Mata,  (Portrait by Eva Russa)

Clarissa’s parents came to America when they were young and have worked for years to create a family focused, hard working, entrepreneurial support system in which she  and her younger brother could thrive.

Working at her mother’s restaurant has helped shaped aspirations for her future. Watching her as a business owner has instilled a strong community mindset that encourages her to invest and make a difference wherever she goes

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The Mata Family at Clarissa’s Quinceanera celebration

In 2015, Clarissa exercised her own entrepreneurial spirit and started a cupcake business. She enjoyed the process and even participated in a few business competitions. She loved being able to donate proceeds to worthy causes she was passionate about, including suicide awareness programs. Through the Careerline Tech Center, she began to explore the Culinary Arts program to possibly build a career on her cupcake business. She appreciated the education and while she experienced the fun aspects of it she now knows that she sees her future going in a different direction.

Looking around the world today, Clarissa feels heavy with the brokenness in society, and an even stronger calling to be an agent for change. She is watching the climate of current politics with a keen eye and plans to pursue a political science degree.

“I’ve been heartbroken time and again by the devastation in this world. ‘Hopes and prayers’ are great, but that’s not enough. We won’t see real change until we speak up. What better way to make sure that happens than if I am given a platform – on the floor in Washington, to do that.”

Jenison has given Clarissa memories of life shaping experiences and she credits her teachers and the staff for their willingness to guide and mentor her. She will hold them dear and is sad that they will no longer be a part of her daily life.

The work of our teachers and staff that helps shape our students and gets them ready for their new world does not go unnoticed. Clarissa, your enthusiasm for making this world a better place is contagious. I am proud to call you a Wildcat and can’t wait to see what your future will bring!

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Q: How old do you think you will be when you feel like a grown up?

A: (without pause) “When I win the election I’m running for.”