by Rayyan Mohamed ’25
After 21 years working at Bellarmine, Ms. Luscher became the Principal of Presentation High School. Currently in her previous position is Interim Principal Dr. Arriola.
In 2006, Dr. Arriola joined Bellarmine as the Director of Diversity. Her role was to work with first generation and low-income families to “deconstruct college prep environments”, essentially making sure students were well supported and successful. She left Bellarmine in 2014 to become President at Sacred Heart Nativity schools. Eventually in 2018, Dr. Arriola rejoined Bellarmine as a Strategic Advisor to the President. She explains that her motivation to return to Bellarmine stemmed from the “caring nature of the community”.
Dr. Arriola’s passion for education began with her parents, who emigrated from Mexico. Both of her parents grew up in extreme poverty and were unable to complete their education. But Dr. Arriola’s parents invested in her education, and she realized how education had the power to change people’s lives. Dr. Arriola describes education as “an escalator”; regardless of a student’s starting point, everyone can make their way up the escalator by cultivating their knowledge and pursuing their interests.
One challenge as principal is valuing one-on-one interactions. In a campus of almost 1,700 students and 200 employees, a lot of our interactions are through e-mail rather than in person. This desire for in-person interaction even prompted Dr. Arriola to spend her morning driving to Almaden bus stops to monitor and improve the Bellarmine bus service. Although her role is challenging, Dr. Arriola highly recommends pursuing a career in education. One benefit is being of service to people. Even making small differences in people’s lives, whether that be by improving the Bellarmine bus system or encouraging students to challenge themselves, can be of significant help. In particular, working at Bellarmine, “a catholic, Jesuit school, has led me to live a faith filled life”.
Dr. Arriola herself knows that Bellarmine is reasonably demanding. As a school, teachers will ask more of seniors than they would of sophomores. But in order to be successful, “more than anything, kids need to be curious”. Dr. Arriola believes that “if kids come everyday with a sense of curiosity, that will allow them to be academically and socially successful”. With a senior in the college admissions process, Dr. Arriola emphasizes that students should focus on their interests and that their passions and personality “have nothing to do with where they go to college”.
As Interim Principal, Dr. Arriola has led many initiatives to improve Bellarmine and empower students to pursue their goals.