Alumni Testimonials


HISP graduates go on to make their mark on the world armed with unique global perspectives the program instills in them. Some achieve acclaim on state, national, and international stages while others offer their contributions to the world in quieter—though no less important—ways. Their influence is felt in many fields such as the arts, sciences, politics, education, and law.

Kelvin Lee, ’08

I learned so much from my time in HISP, but I think the most important thing I learned is the importance and value of the human experience, and acknowledging and validating that in others. HISP didn’t just teach me how to become a better writer or a more critical thinker – my teachers and my peers served as real life examples of how to be a good person and a global citizen every single day. HISP gave me the foundation to continue exploring what it means to be an observant and responsible person who stands up for what they believe in. Thanks to HISP, I was much better equipped to navigate, understand, and champion the diversity I experienced in my undergraduate studies.

Michael Glick, ’05

After graduating from HISP, I attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, receiving a degree in mathematics in 2009. While at UCSC, I was active in the music scene both on campus and in the greater Santa Cruz area. I am in several bands (classical, jazz, and rock). I teach music at a local middle school and am the organist at two local churches for Sunday morning services. I recently completed my website.

Natalie (Smith) Weaver, ’02

I remember where I was and what I was doing on 9/11 when the towers came down. It was my junior year at CKM. The entire campus just froze. Major news networks could be heard coming from almost every classroom and students wandered through the halls trying to understand how something so terrible could happen . . . . HISP not only educated me, but enriched my experience in becoming a global citizen. The program truly instilled tolerance in its students, through academic discussion, cultural events, speakers, and the curriculum itself.

Elizabeth Fleshman, ’01

. . . I continued studying Latin and the humanities, and eventually decided to major in German. I received my B.A. from San Jose State University in 2007. I had two amazing internships—one with the World Bank of the Philippines and one with the Salzburg Global Seminar. . . I finished the second chapter of my master’s thesis (working towards an M.A. in Global Citizenship at SJSU). (HISP) was certainly an excellent building block for my writing skills and my understanding of global issues. I think about Mr. Kent and Mrs. Wong every time I pick up a newspaper and I still catch myself underlining words which show bias. Mrs. Zimmerman’s advice about tackling big writing assignments “bird by bird” has helped me structure—and not freak out about—my 120-page thesis. Now, I intentionally break the rules about run-on sentences, instead of allowing them to happen to me. When things don’t go well for me, either through circumstance or my own shortcomings, I pick myself up again, remembering what I learned in Mr. Fritz’s class in the ninth grade—the hero’s goal is usually just a symbol for what she really finds. Studying humanities opens doors to different people, places, ways of doing things, ways of thinking, ways of praying . . . It’s one more thing to do alongside imploding gummy bears in AP Physics, but if you treat it as more than an academic exercise, the important lessons will stay with you your whole life.

Brian I. Gordon, ’92

Some 20 years after beginning my journey through HISP, I am surprised at how often I reflect on those years . . . as critical to my success in the “real world.” The real world is a very diverse place, full of people that look and think very differently than I do. My experience at CKM and in HISP immersed me in diversity. . . . I consider this . . . the foundation for which I built my ability to interact successfully with all likes, both socially and professionally. My business revolves around the sports and entertainment world and is not the sort of business one would anticipate the dire need to read, write, and think critically. . . . I have found my greatest advantage is my ability to do all of these things well. The ability to analyze a situation and effectively communicate a position is something that one needs no matter what one chooses to do. HISP gave me these tools and the foundation to excel in college and beyond. . . . Finally, as a business owner, I am in the position of hiring young people coming out of college. . . . I was more prepared coming out of high school than many I see coming out of college today. . . . HISP will prepare you better for the workforce and make you a much more attractive candidate for any employer—no matter what you choose to do.

Jennifer Kerns, ‘92

Growing up in Sacramento and attending McClatchy High School normalized diversity and the value of understanding others’ experiences. HISP, however, provided an academic platform for that diversity, a platform from which I could appreciate my future personal and professional experiences. I have since sought out experiences and a career that embraces diversity and challenges me to understand the context of a situation. I attended Stanford University, majoring in Human Biology with a concentration in Health in Latin America. I taught high school science for two years in an under-served area, and then entered medical school. I am now an obstetrician-gynecologist at UCSF caring for patients from a variety of backgrounds, countries, and circumstances. One of my favorite HISP classes was critical thinking, taught by Ms. Robison. She prodded us all to question, question, question—a practice that I use every day as a physician and clinical researcher. Mr. Coombs’ study skills class started me early on building organizational skills and learning how to manage my work. Those lessons carried me through college, as a new teacher overwhelmed with the charge of teaching high school students myself, and as a medical student. Reading the newspaper is a daily habit—thanks to Mrs. Wong’s focus on current events. And advocating for social change, both on an individual and societal level was a process that HISP introduced to me. While HISP provided me lessons in diversity, critical thinking, and study skills, HISP was most influential for me in shaping me as a conscientious and thoughtful citizen. And I’m grateful for that!