By Jessica Caterson
For some incoming freshmen, the idea of high school is extremely daunting. Many rising high schoolers are filled with nerves and fears about the unknown, choosing to ease themselves into their new environment gradually to adjust. Jessie Imbriglio, however, was not one of these freshmen. For her, having an older sister allowed her freshman self to be more aware of the opportunities EGHS had. “With my sister being there and her prior knowledge on teachers and classes and the environment, I was able to utilize her as a source of knowledge going into high school,” she reflected. Even with all of her sister’s insight, Jessie still feels like she could’ve done more as a freshman. “I wasn’t the student I could’ve been,” she said. “I wasn’t the student I am now. I was still taking honors classes at the time, but that doesn’t mean I was putting in more time or effort than those who didn’t.”
As a freshman, Jessie admits to having been more relaxed. While she wanted to be the best she could, at the time she wasn’t sure what that entailed. It wasn’t until sophomore year that things started to click for Jessie. She recalled, “I really started to understand and gradually improve myself, not only as a student and athlete but as a person. I became more responsible for the things I had to do and started taking things more seriously.” Jessie credits her parents and sister for constantly motivating her to keep improving herself. “Having that support system at home pushed me to be the best version of myself as a student, person, and athlete.” From then on, Jessie continued to grow and learn about herself, becoming more responsible and mature each year. Looking back, she wishes she began her self-improvement journey earlier. “I regret not putting 120 percent effort in everything I did. If I had done that, I feel like I would’ve matured a little faster and be a better student, athlete, and person as a whole.”
That’s not to say Jessie lacked success during her time at EGHS. Her impressive resume and extracurriculars prove that even a percentage of her drive is more than most people can claim to have. She’s been an active member of the high school’s yearbook club for the past four years, and served as editor-in-chief as a senior. On top of that, Jessie has participated in book club and Model United Nations, coordinated her class’s junior Airband act, performed in multiple talent shows, and was the student representative for the East Greenwich School District’s Code of Conduct Committee. Even with all of her activities, Jessie still found time in her hectic schedule to give back to her community.
During the spring of her freshman year, she came across a web page for another school with an unexpected message on its home page. “The first thing on their website was a brochure expressing their need for shoes,” she said. “For me, as a person from East Greenwich, I never expected to see something like that on the front page of a school website. That initially sparked my longing interest in wanting to help that school and then some.” From then on, Jessie began helping schools in need through her organization, Student4Students. “Over time, I began helping several schools, bringing them clothes, backpacks, school supplies, shoes, and other miscellaneous items. My first year began with three or four schools, and now I’m helping eleven schools, primarily in Rhode Island’s four core cities, that is, the cities with the highest poverty rates,” she said. Since her freshman year, Jessie has donated over 3,000 pounds of clothing and roughly 290 pairs of shoes to schools in need as well as a Boy Scouts program. She credits much of her success to the community and the school system. “That’s where I generally got most of my donations. I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help,” she said. In February, Jessie was contacted by the Rhode Island House of Representatives to be recognized for her Student4Students work.
As if her work off the field wasn’t enough, on the field, Jessie proved herself to be just as tenacious. From a very young age, Jessie was drawn to sports and physical activities. “I’ve always loved sports, and they’ve always been a big part of me. I’ve been doing them since I was 1 year old,” she said. Even before Jessie started high school, she knew she wanted to be a 12-season athlete. She’s been a vital part of both the field hockey and indoor track teams since her freshman year, as well as the outdoor track team since her sophomore year (she played softball as a freshman). Jessie served as a captain for all three sports this past year but her passion is field hockey. “Over time, I’ve been working harder,” she said. “After losing the championship my freshman year in overtime, I decided to do and become more.” Following her freshman season, Jessie joined a field hockey club and spent more time on her days off working out on her own. Her work ethic clearly paid off, as reflected in her long list of accolades. After being chosen for the All-Rookie team during her freshman year, Jessie continued to shine. She was named a three-time All-Star, a three-time All-Stater, and a three-time All-Tournament team. During her sophomore and senior year, she had the highest save percentage for goalies in the state; This year, Jessie was named the Division I Rhode Island Field Hockey Coaches Association Player of the Year. To top it off, she was also chosen as one of the Providence Journal’s Player of the Year nominees.
Her experience with East Greenwich field hockey acted as one of two guiding forces in her college search. The other was her interest in health sciences. She said, “I had my major figured out way before I knew where I was applying to. I knew I wanted to major in nursing because health sciences has always been my main interest, and after seeing my sister in her school’s program as a PA, it sparked that interest even more. That part of my decision was set in stone for a very long time.” Between her two passions, Jessie’s search quickly narrowed, and she mainly applied to schools where she could play field hockey and be able to major in nursing. However, for Jessie, she put her academic interests over her athletic ones. “In a way, field hockey navigated me through the schools I did or did not want to go to,” she explained. “But, at the same time, I only looked at the schools that had what I wanted in terms of academics. After all, if you’re a student-athlete, the student comes first.” In the end, after applying to seven schools early action, Jessie decided on Adelphi University. There, she will major in nursing and play as a member on their field hockey team in the DII Northeast Ten Conference.
While the pandemic has dampened her senior year experience, Jessie remains optimistic. “It’s upsetting without a doubt, but we have to move on,” she said. “There’s more to life than getting expensive dresses to wear for five hours or walking across a stage. What matters is the journey we took to get here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s terrible, but what matters now is knowing how our experiences have made us into the people we are today.” For Jessie, being able to look back at her time in high school and see how she’s grown – as a person, student, and athlete –has been extremely rewarding. “The main thing I took from this experience is that you can’t take anything in life for granted,” she said. “You just never know how things are going to work out. It’s important to live in the present, and not worry about the things you don’t have to.” While her future remains uncertain, she credits the high school with preparing her for whatever the future throws at her.
Congratulations on everything you have accomplished, Jessie! You are such an inspiration, and are going to do incredible things!
Jessica Caterson, a member of the EGHS Class of 2021, is editor of The Spectrum.
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