Groton – Sarah Cruz Velasquez, a graduate of Ella T. Grasso’s Technical High School, has always had an interest in animals.
She grew up surrounded by pets and, even as a child, was fascinated by reading information books about cats, dogs, reptiles and other animals.
This interest has grown over the years and she plans to pursue a career as a veterinarian and helping animals.
“I’ve always had a lot of compassion for them, so I want to help other people give them the best possible life and also take care of their health,” said Cruz Velasquez.
Her school said the career suits her because of her kind and caring personality.
Cruz Velasquez, 18, plans to complete her first two years of college at Three Rivers Community College and then move on to the University of Connecticut’s pre-veterinary program to complete her undergraduate degree. Then she would likely go to Tufts University to continue her career in veterinary medicine.
At Grasso Tech, Cruz Velasquez not only built an academic foundation, but also learned a skill that she has to fall back on during her studies for a job: the hairdressing trade. She was in the high school hair salon program to become a licensed hairdresser.
Cruz Velasquez, who learned Spanish and is bilingual, said she developed her strong work ethic from her parents who immigrated to the United States from Honduras. The family now lives in Montville.
She grew up in an encouraging environment where her mother always made sure that she prioritized her schoolwork. Her father worked hard to keep the family financially stable and selflessly helping Cruz Velasquez go through the experiences he didn’t have as a child, she said.
Cruz Velasquez said she had tried since elementary school to be as involved in the school as possible, doing her personal best and talking to teachers about different ways she could improve her job or contribute to the school environment. In middle school, she continued her strong work ethic and did her best to get involved in more clubs.
In high school, she participated in activities from walking dogs and babysitting to performing in choir concerts and showing off her art in shows. In her hair salon, she cut people’s hair and helped the visitors to the senior center by pampering them and styling their hair as they pleased.
She won the Excellence In Cosmetology Award during her freshman year of study and has excelled academically at Grasso Tech. She was one of the best students in her senior class.
Damaris Llontop, who taught English II in honor of Cruz Velasquez and honors contemporary literature, said she was a versatile personality and a role model for others.
“Sarah has a strong work ethic and takes pride in everything she does,” said Llontop. “With her determination, positive character and skill set, I am confident that Sarah will do well in her future endeavors.”
Susan Manning, her Junior Honors US History and Senior Honors Contemporary Issues teacher, said Cruz Velasquez “is smart and thoughtful and can be counted on to approach each assignment with determination and a positive attitude.”
Cruz Velasquez said that while she learned so much academically and through her craft at Grasso, the relationships she forged at school had the greatest impact on her. She said she tried to engage with her classmates and help them as best she could.
She said her oldest sister, Alex Cruz Velasquez, 27, helped her develop her emotional understanding of herself and others, and helped her become a kind and understanding person. She said her two sisters are role models, and her 21-year-old sister, who is in the military, is so strong and positive.
Vicki Smallwood, the head of the hairdressing and cosmetics department, remembered how Cruz Velasquez’s eyes lit up when she received calls from her sister during the day.
“She is a kind hearted soul who cares deeply for those who are close to her,” said Smallwood. She added that she is compassionate, hardworking, reliable, and has a pleasant and pleasant personality and passion for everything she does.
Her family is important to her, and Cruz Velasquez said she loves exploring Hispanic culture, attending fun gatherings, and enjoying the sense of community.
“I really enjoy it and I am really proud that I come from a hard working family who immigrated here and was able to pass this culture on to me. If I ever choose to have children, hopefully I could pass that on.” on them, teach them and help them learn very important aspects of being a Latino or a Latina, “she said.
Her family is also proud of her: “She is incredibly resilient and determined,” said her eldest sister Alex Cruz Velasquez. “Besides, she’s so kind and like a light.”
Alex Cruz Velasquez said it was great to see her sister grow into the person she is today – one who will make a difference in the world by taking care of her and doing her best to help others . “I just feel like she’s just that good and the world needs more of it.”