By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published May 9, 2013
ATHENS—Monsignor Donovan High School senior Jeremy Ruiz has had an active high school career that includes four years of varsity soccer, serving as captain of the boxing team, and heading up the video gaming club, a group he started at the beginning of his junior year. As he looks toward life after high school, he sees a continued bright future full of education and service.
The youngest of three boys, Ruiz was inspired by his brother’s service in the U.S. Army. When he began thinking about ways he could serve the country, the Marine Corps stood out to him.
“I’ve always seen them as being the first to fight,” he said. “I think it would be a good career for me.”
Ruiz said he wants to finish college and earn a degree before entering the military because he would like to serve as an officer.
“I’ve been thinking about joining the Marines for a long time, but I didn’t want to join as an enlisted man,” he said. “I want to get through college first and become an officer in the Marine Corps.”
Ruiz is no stranger to service. Twice he has been to Haiti on mission trips with the school and said the experience had quite an impact on him.
He was struck by how happy the people were despite having little in the way of possessions. He takes less for granted now, too.
“It was great … seeing the way the Haitians live,” he said.
He added, “It was good for me because I learned how good I have it, how lucky I am.”
Ruiz helps out at the chicken farm that his parents, Carlos and Evelyn Ruiz, have been running for nearly 25 years. There are more than 8,000 chickens from which he and his family collect fertilized eggs that are then sent to a company that hatches the eggs. The Ruizes are parishioners at St. Mark Church in Clarkesville.
As he ponders life after graduation, Ruiz is still deciding among Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville, Gainesville State College in Gainesville and Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, but knows he would like to study marketing.
“The first time I learned about marketing, I realized that I had the skill set to pursue a career,” he said. “It kind of clicked with me. … I like the idea of trying to sell a product, which is motivating for me.”
In addition to his other extracurricular activities, Ruiz founded a video gaming club at the Athens independent Catholic school during his junior year. The club tries to meet regularly to give students an opportunity to gather and play video games together.
“Depending on which day we schedule it, after school for about an hour kids can come play video games on Xboxes™, PlayStations™, and computers, or whatever they want to play on.”
“I guess you could say I’m an avid video gamer and I enjoy doing that, and I just wanted to do that with my classmates,” he said.
Passing advice on to incoming freshmen, he encourages them to take their studies seriously, even if the material sometimes seems boring or unimportant. It is all important, he said.
“It will help you become a better student” and a better person, he said.
Overall, Ruiz’s experience at Monsignor Donovan High School has been positive and inspiring. When asked what he likes about the school, he quickly responded, “the community, the closeness.”
“I don’t feel like I’m just another fish in the sea. I know all of these people, I’m friends with them, they are my family,” he said. “They’ve done a lot for me.”
The faculty and administration at Monsignor Donovan say that the feeling is mutual. Jeremy has done a lot for the school.
“We selected Jeremy for our Senior Spotlight because he is a bit of an unsung hero at Monsignor Donovan,” said Pats Laniak, school counselor. “He has been a very active member of our school, volunteering countless times to help with school events.”
“At the end of each event we could count on Jeremy being there, helping until the last of the work was done. He labored countless long days at concession stands to raise funds for student council and for the class of 2013 Junior College Tour. He is super-reliable at school and in his community,” she said.