The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


Embodying Academic Excellence: Juan Fajardo Becomes Princeton-Bound

From the get-go, this senior rose up to the challenge, accomplishing his ultimate academic goal
Courtesy of Juan Fajardo
Capturing a photo in front of the East Pyne building, Fajardo attended Princeton’s visit for admitted students committing to the school on April 9, 2024.

Throughout high school, Cavaliers build up their college resumes, involving themselves in a variety of extracurriculars and activities in hopes of getting accepted into the school of their dreams. Remaining laser-focused on his aspirations, senior Juan Fajardo has earned himself a spot at Princeton University. Though currently undecided, Fajardo is leaning towards a major in politics, as he is interested in the current events the world tackles.

“I always had that idea [of attending an Ivy League school] since I started high school. I visited Princeton when I was in middle school and I really liked it. I’m also a big fan of many notable alumni from Princeton. I knew that I wanted to go…based on the standard of excellence that I saw [from] everybody there. When there were significant people on the news whom I thought that I would like to be like one day, I’d see the common theme of them going to Princeton,” senior Fajardo said.

Scavenging for information, at the end of junior year, Fajardo attended the College Admissions Readiness Symposium, held by College Assistance Program advisor Ms. Sanz, where he was taught about essay writing and the process of college applications. With this newly acquired information, Fajardo asked Ms. Sanz many questions about small details, which helped him fill out and send his application correctly. Being completely accessible at all times, Ms. Sanz kept straightforward communication between him and the university, ensuring he was fully informed.

“My dad [guided me through college applications]; we spent a lot of time talking about college, writing and the little things he could give me the time for that nobody else could. But on top of that, of course, my friends and everybody in junior year and senior year were very focused on [admissions], so I took a lot of advice from them and people that had gone to schools like that before. I made sure I could learn as much as I could from as many people as possible,” senior Fajardo said.

Fajardo remained ahead of the game, taking the summer to expand and grow through his writing, especially about himself. Undergoing the extensive and lengthy application process early on, Fajardo had to write from five to seven essays, attend an interview and submit some of his own written work to prove his abilities. Prioritizing his pace throughout the process, Fajardo spent all of September and October writing his essays, even taking an additional week off of school to complete them by the deadline of Nov. 1.

“I think I had a unique application in the way that not many people do the things that I do for the reasons that I do them. I’d say my essays were irregular but they still fit the kind of mold that would make someone want to give me a chance. I made sure to emphasize different subjects I was interested in and make them understand that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but that if they gave me a chance I could definitely figure it out through their programs. And of course there are things they always consider like extracurriculars, sports and all of that, which I had,” senior Fajardo said.

Expanding his involvement outside the classroom, Fajardo has been in the boys varsity soccer and track and field team for three years and has run cross country for two years. Making strides as both a student and an athlete, Fajardo has gone to regional finals for soccer and track and field, attended semi-finals twice for soccer and competed in the Districts competition throughout his time on Gables’ track and field team.

Additionally, Fajardo has honed his abilities as a writer through his position as Insight editor for highlights during his junior and senior years. Taking it a step further, Fajardo has written a plethora of unpublished plays, short stories and novels outside of school that helped guide his application.

I didn’t know that [Princeton] was what my recommendation letter was for because [Fajardo] was very private about where he was applying. Once he told me and I processed it…I just felt so excited for him because he is going to thrive at Princeton, he’s so academic and such a thinker. They’re going to help him use his brilliance in an area that’s really going to help him in the future,”

— Ms. Gonzalez

Valuing the connections he built with his teachers, Fajardo asked Ms. Gonzalez and Mr. Nelson to write him letters of recommendation. Being the highlights adviser, Ms. Gonzalez has seen Fajardo grow both as a person and a writer throughout his time at Gables. Similarly, Fajardo has been able to bond with Mr. Nelson, his psychology teacher, cross country and soccer coach, both in and outside the classroom. Sticking true to Fajardo’s beliefs that his recommendation letters should combine personality and academics, these two teachers fit the mold perfectly.

“They were the teachers that I felt knew me best not only as a student but as a person. When you’re getting a recommendation letter you don’t want somebody that’s just going to tell them that you’re a great student because [colleges are going to] see that through your grades [and] your course load,….you want someone who can combine that with the type of person you are. [Colleges] want to know what kind of a student you’re going to be once you get there, start taking these classes and how you’re going to react to the pressure of regular classroom environment,” senior Fajardo said.

Remaining reserved, Fajardo opened the decision on his own on Dec. 14 after soccer practice. Enthusiasm filled the air of the soccer field as Fajardo discovered he would follow in the footsteps of many Cavaliers turned Tigers. Soon after, he called his mom and celebrated with his friends to rejoice on his milestone. 

Empowering its student body with the loads of resources available, Fajardo will be taking part in Princeton’s Study Abroad Program, as well as their general courses and undergraduate studies. Entering the 2024 fall semester, Fajardo anticipates meeting like-minded people with the same ambitions while traversing the competitive and uplifting college environment.

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About the Contributor
Gianna Figueroa
Gianna Figueroa, CavsConnect Staff Writer
Gianna Figueroa is a sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program at Gables and this is her first year writing for CavsConnect. Looking for more ways to be involved at Gables, she saw CavsConnect as the perfect opportunity to do so, an opportunity to improve her writing skills. Hoping to meet new faces, engage herself in additional extracurriculars, attend more school events and create memories that will last a lifetime, she is looking forward to working for CavsConnect with the rest of the team. All of this while staying on top of her school work and managing her four Advanced Placement classes. She has a deep passion for art from a young age. Drawing, sketching and painting have been her creative outlet and have helped her all her life.  She aspires to pursue something in the arts and to have a job that will make her truly happy. In her free time, you can find her drawing, reading or spending time with her loved ones.
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