Rams Like You: Bella Maffei ’19 and Donna Prosser

Rams Like You: Bella Maffei ’19 and Donna Prosser
In June, we graduated 192 responsible and courageous young men and women who will head off to be leaders and change agents. Before one of our grads crossed the stage and accepted alumni status we sat down to talk with her. Bella Maffei ’19 and her mom, Donna Prosser, talked with us about how Christian service transformed her high school experience and what’s next for this ambitious and caring young woman.

Bella, what were you involved in during your time at Central Catholic?
Bella: Starting my junior year, I joined cheer. I also started getting involved in Women’s Coalition. I started doing more service which was a huge thing for me. I got involved in outdoor school and working with the Rams Program students. Those two things have been the biggest things in high school that I have loved doing.
Donna: Isabella, when you were a freshman do you remember going to the Blanchet House every Monday and they thought you were a senior because you would go so often. You somehow had worked your way to the front where they call what table you sit at. You were there so often.
Bella: I went to Mrs. Ramsey because I didn’t know what to do for my service requirement. She was like, ‘Just go to the Blanchet House for a couple of nights and you’ll figure it out.’ I went and started becoming friends with the people who ran it. They let me stand in the front and give forks out which was like the head honcho job.

What experience has had the biggest impact on you at Central Catholic?
Bella: I started working with the Rams Program students when the program started. That has been my favorite thing to do ever. It totally gave me something to be involved in that I was really passionate about.
Those Rams kids, they are my best friends. I love them so much. They have taught me so much about being present in your life and being able to show who you really are without having a mask.
I think high school gives you a lot of masks to wear, in like, who you should be and how you should act around certain people. But the Rams students really know how to be themselves. That’s really taught me a lot. It showed me that I need to be my real self. Being a peer mentor really helped me come out of my shell. It showed me that I don’t have to wear those masks.
I think (that experience has) definitely launched me into what I’m doing next year. I’m going to Seattle University and I’m going to be a Sullivan Scholar which means I’m going to get a full ride for four years to be in an intensive leadership program in a cohort of nine people from all over the country. I had to compete for it and I think without a doubt that if I hadn’t gone here and been impacted by all the service requirements and learning how to treat people in the world, I would not have won.
I think the amount of support that I received from my teachers was insane. I told my teachers every time I would get to the next level of the competition for it. My teachers would be like, ‘When are we meeting about this?’ I had at least 15 faculty and staff take time out of their evenings to help me after school.
Donna: Can you tell them about the letter you got?
Bella: Mr. Uchikura and Mrs. Ramsey wrote me this letter and told me, ‘Don’t open it until right before your interview.’
Donna: The letter said, ‘Bella we are with you. We believe in you. No matter what happens, we love you.’ Simple things like that. And every teacher that had helped you, signed it. It was overwhelming. We could not be thankful enough for that. And there are a million examples of that.

What changes have you seen in Bella throughout her time at Central Catholic?
Donna: Like around your junior year, I could just see a turn in you. You were just so aware of other people in the world. You were aware of your dad and I and the sacrifices we made to send you here. And just how you walked in the world, I knew that a lot of that came from Central Catholic. And it came from what was modeled to you.
When I was in high school, I can remember like four or five teachers, really impactful teachers and coaches. But for Isabella, probably 70 percent of the teachers were impactful on her story. I think about how many teachers you talk about, how many classes you love, how many teachers you feel connected to or learned something from, I think that is huge. I’ve really seen a change in you from that. People have supported you and shown you how to be and walk through the world, it’s a big deal.

What is your advice for other families thinking about attending Central Catholic?
Donna: I think the secret sauce to Central Catholic is the relationships with the teachers and how much teachers care about the students. And it’s modeled in a ton of different ways. But, I think that over the time you’re here, it’s layer after layer, that someone cares about me, someone sees me. There is a place for me here to make a difference and if I want to have a connection it’s available in all these different ways. I think that is Central’s amazing secret sauce.