From earthquake survivors to college bound

Haitian siblings are grateful to Catholic schools, Cathedral parish for academic success

Cristina Cabrera Jarro


Excerpt from The Florida Catholic of June 18, 2018 (pg.30)

MIAMI | In their less than 20 years of life, siblings Eudens and Tajmara Antoine survived an earthquake, migrated to Miami, learned a new language, and were separated from their parents and family.

But thanks to the education and support provided by local parishes and schools, the pair just graduated from Msgr. Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens and are now college bound, both to New York University. Tajmara, 18, got a full ride as an AnBryce Scholarship recipient, selected from among 20,000 applicants. Eudens, 19, received another scholarship, and will pursue his passion, engineering. He dreams of working at NASA.

Tajmara, less certain about her career path, will study pre-med for now, a career she thought of when she was young in Haiti, “because I always wanted to help.”

Looking back now, she realizes that everything that happened since 2010 — the earthquake, moving to Miami, even the merger of Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame with Pace High during her senior year — put her on the path to NYU. …

One of their favorite teachers at Curley-Notre Dame was Brother John Corcoran, of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers, who taught English. His courses had a reputation for being intellectually demanding.

“I love the challenge of a professor that is tough,” said Tajmara.

Brother Corcoran said he was amazed by the Antoines’ drive, one that extended beyond the classroom and spread through any activity they were involved in, be it athletics, extracurricular, or volunteer events such as Hunger Fest, the Thanksgiving Drive and the Christmas Toy Drive.

“Both students were highly respected by everyone in the school, by both teachers and fellow students,” said Brother Corcoran. “The whole group of young people that they hung out with, they really reinforced each other and brought out the best in each other.”

Academically, he noted that Tajmara was one of the few students who returned for suggestions and edits to her writing. She worried about her proficiency in English, her second language.

“I never found her to be afraid of a challenge. She will ask for help, but that is not the same thing as not feeling that you cannot handle it,” said Brother Corcoran.

With his aid, and a natural love of reading, her writing improved. She even earned a perfect score in the writing section of the ACT. Now she is challenging herself to learn Spanish but joked that few of her peers at Pace practiced with her, so she follows up with Spanish TV shows.

The Antoines say they are grateful to St. Mary Cathedral School and Church, Curley-Notre Dame and Pace High. Because of the help they received, both say they are committed to giving back someday, especially to Haiti and their parents.

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