Learning without Limits

“Our main objective was for Erik to learn English. We also wanted to choose a military school for its strict discipline and one that offered a safe environment. The fact that the school is in Salina, which is a small city, also seemed the best option. Also, the maximum number of students that St. John’s admits allows the school to have very good attention to each student. Finally, the environment in the school among the military and non-military personnel shows a lot of respect, esteem, and cordiality.”Edna Arias Velasco
Puebla, Mexico, Mother of two SJMS cadets

For Edna Arias Velasco and her husband, the most important thing they wanted for their son, Erik, was an education without limits. They wanted Erik to learn English so he could obtain a quality college education in the United States. They never realized that sending Erik to St. John’s Military School would transform the lives of their entire family. Today, watching both Erik and his younger brother Adrián excel academically, speak fluent English, and make plans to enroll in college has more than exceeded Edna’s hopes for Erik to have limitless academic opportunities.

“We wanted to give Erik the opportunity to study at the best high school and St. John’s has more than fulfilled our expectations,” said Edna. “There are no limits to what he can reach, and we are deeply proud of him.”

The Path to a College Education Begins at St. John’s Military School

Erik Cabildo Arias and his Family

Erik Cabildo Arias was born in the city of Puebla, located southeast of Mexico City. In 2012, with a goal of mastering the English language, Erik enrolled at St. John’s Military School as an eighth-grader. For Edna and her husband, St. John’s offered everything they could want in a home away from home for Erik—small class sizes, personal attention, a disciplined lifestyle, a quality education, and immersion in English with the support of international student programming.

“Our main objective was for Erik to learn English,” said Edna. “We did not want to send Erik to an American school where English was not spoken. We also wanted to choose a military school for its strict discipline and one that offered a safe environment. The fact that the school is in Salina, which is a small city, also seemed the best option. Also, the maximum number of students that St. John’s admits allows the school to have very good attention to each student. Finally, the environment in the school among the military and non-military personnel shows a lot of respect, esteem, and cordiality.”

Erik was optimistic about military school life from the day he first arrived on campus.

“I thought it was cool,” said Erik, recalling his first impressions of cadets on campus wearing uniforms and leading a disciplined lifestyle. “I had a good feeling about the school.”

While Erik embraced life at St. John’s, it was not without its challenges for the international cadet.

“The language, first of all, was a challenge,” said Erik, “And being away from family and friends.”

Finding a Home Away from Home at St. John’s

As any parent who has ever been separated from their child knows, any amount of distance can feel overwhelming. After one year at St. John’s, Erik returned to high school in Mexico.

“My Mom missed me back home, so my parents decided I should go back to Mexico,” said Erik. “I returned to high school in Mexico, but I wanted to get into a good college in the States. I decided to come back to St. John’s this year, as a final year, to begin the college prep and admissions process.”

This time, however, Erik would not be making a move to Salina alone. Edna relocated with her son, to ease the separation for both of them. Today, she lives only ten minutes away from the St. John’s campus.

“Now that my Mom is here, it’s a way different experience compared to the first time I was at St. John’s,” said Erik.

For Edna, being close to her son has given her a sense of comfort.

“I find it difficult to express in words how happy I feel being close to him,” said Edna. “I am at peace, and without a void that only he can fill, that’s how important it has been for me.”

Erik and Edna were also joined by Erik’s younger brother Adrián, a sophomore, who today is also benefitting from a St. John’s education. According to Edna, after realizing Erik’s successes at St. John’s, there was no question that she and her husband wanted the same opportunity for Adrián.

“Each one of my children is different and unique. Each one has to travel their own way, but for us, it is vitally important to give the same opportunities to Adrián that Erik has had. We want the best for both of them and want to give them the best education and support.”

Though today his English is nearly flawless, Adrián recalls the struggles he felt arriving on an English-speaking campus and remembers being glad to have both his brother and mother nearby.

“It’s been easier having Erik and my Mom here. On the weekends if we get a pass, we can visit her and just play video games, or watch TV, and she cooks for us which is really, really good.”

Erik is also enjoying having his brother on campus, adding, “It’s brought us closer together this year. It’s really good. We’ve both been on the soccer and football teams, and we work together on the military side also.”

Excelling Without Limits

Erik Cabildo Arias

Today, in addition to being a multi-season athlete and a member of the Basic Military Skills team, Erik is a member of the Cadet Battalion Staff—the top nine cadet leaders in the school, and recently earned the rank of cadet captain. Academically, since Erik has always been a disciplined, focused student, he was able to immediately adjust to the rigors of senior year academics upon returning to St. John’s.

“Even before I came to St. John’s as an eighth grader, I was a good student,” recalls Erik. “My parents always pushed me on academics. I had good grades and did my homework every day.”

Even with a solid academic foundation, St. John’s has helped Erik to excel and achieve even higher standards—qualities both his mother and younger brother Adrián, have observed.

“Since he’s been at St. John’s, Erik is a more organized and responsible student,” said Edna. “I see him deciding when and how to study. I trust that he will do his homework and fulfill all his other responsibilities without my worrying about whether he will fulfill them or not. I think that St. John’s has taught him that his expectations of himself should have no limit. The recognition that St. John’s has given him in each achievement, in each goal that he has fulfilled, has been decisive in the confidence that he has gained from himself.”

For Adrián, it is Erik’s maturity that stands out as the most significant evolution of his character.

“St. John’s has helped him develop leadership skills,” said Adrián. “I noticed that right away when he came back home after his first year.”

College Preparations

True to his commitment to earning a college degree, Erik has taken full advantage of his final year at St. John’s. He has enrolled in two concurrent college-level courses- Personal Finance and Foundations of Graphic Application- courses he takes on the Kansas Wesleyan University campus three days per week.

“When I learned what classes were available, Personal Finance got my attention because I want to study finance,” said Erik. “I also really like using computers, so the name of the second course also got my attention.”

Erik credits the influence of Ms. Cerny, the school’s coordinator of online courses, and his mother, for encouraging him to begin taking college courses while still enrolled at St. John’s.

“My mom still pushes me academically,” said Erik, who has already been admitted to Kansas University where he plans to major in Finance and minor in Economics. Thanks to his prep work and concurrent college coursework at St. John’s, Erik is on pace to earn a master’s degree in only four years after graduation.

Looking Ahead to a Future Without Limits

As Erik looks forward to a college education at Kansas University, both Edna and Adrián agree that the possibilities that lay before him are limitless.

“I know he will get good grades in college if he wants to because he can do it,” said Adrián.

Erik has similar hopes for Adrián, who also has aspirations of a college degree.

“Adrián really likes science, so I want him to pursue the things that he likes, no matter what they are or where he goes,” said Erik.

For Edna, she continues to hold the same hope for Erik, a future filled with possibilities without limits.

“I hope that Erik is a successful man, in the spiritual, in the academic, later in his profession, and as a human being. I hope that when he triumphs, he does not feel that he has reached the top and that there is nothing more to conquer. I hope that he sits in those moments of success and when failures or disappointments arrive, he does not think that he has been defeated. That he knows in moments that mistakes are life lessons, and I hope that he knows himself, and sees his potential, and sees in any challenge an opportunity to conquer.”