The day – personal loss shapes the life perspective of Bernhardiner senior

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MONTVILLE — When Christopher Gonzalez was 16, his mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. What has happened since then changed the Saint Bernard student’s life forever.

Gonzalez’s mother passed away in the summer of 2021.

“My mother motivated me to be the person I am today,” he said. “Overall, I’ve gone through some really tough times in life after suffering the loss of my mother, but I’ve used that motivation to get through school this year and see what my future holds for me.”

After his mother’s death, Gonzalez said he doubled down to devote himself to his life goals, which range from sports commentary to inspirational speaking.

“Education is key, everyone wants to find a way to lead themselves to success and since my mum tells me to do whatever I want in life and be happy about it – whatever I do, I just want to affect the world somehow,” he says. “I want to inspire people to be successful and pursue their dreams… even if they think it might be impossible. It all depends on you before you take that step.”

Gonzalez will be attending Three Rivers Community College this fall as a first step out of high school.

His desire to become a sports commentator comes from growing up with his grandfather watching football.

Described by the Saint-Bernard administration as an “extremely kind and humble student,” Gonzalez, who works at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford during the summer, is also credited for his deep involvement in his church and in the school with diversity and drama recognized clubs, worship choir and football. Also, the “incredible young man” is something of a musician.

Gonzalez said he’s increased his musical endeavors lately. He said he was influenced by Spanish and English bilingual artists such as Bad Bunny, the famous Puerto Rican singer and rapper.

“He influences my techniques. You’re working on it and figuring things out by listening to other musicians to figure out how you want to sing and finding a way to show the world that you are who you are,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been making music since sophomore year. I’ve listened to many different genres, which made me want to work on my voice. That’s why I joined the concert and worship choir at my school to work on my singing and show everyone I’m really up to it.”

He said his family has been a strong foundation for him to lean on to recover from his mother’s death and that he has supported his musical endeavors.

“I made a few songs and showed them to my family, and that pretty much inspired me to keep going,” Gonzalez said. “It would be quite interesting to sing more in Spanish. That’s what my family likes to hear from me because they think I’m more of a Spanish than an English artist. But I would like to do both. It’s quite difficult to be bilingual, but I’m grateful to speak two languages.”

Gonzalez, who hails from New London, also relied on his best friends from back home during his mother’s illness.

“It was extremely tough. I will personally tell you that I didn’t know what to do. All I did was pray and spend as much time as I could with my mom,” Gonzalez said. “I told my mom I wanted to spend time with her, it was hard because I couldn’t because I had to do community service hours. There was the church…they didn’t know about the situation. I kept hoping to work because I knew I had to help others who didn’t have food because I was distributing food.”

“I was really happy helping people who needed food even though I wanted to spend time with my mom,” he added.

Gonzalez is a religious person and attends St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in New London.

“I believe in the messages of the Lord and what He has given me and made available to me throughout my life,” Gonzalez said. “He created me and brought me into this world for a reason. We all have one goal – to help others, to guide ourselves to do what we want to do, and to show the world that we can make a difference.”

With cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other relatives in New London, Gonzalez says what he loves about his family is that they are “always united.”

“We never let go,” he said. “We always find ways to plan. We see each other probably two or three times a year and that keeps me going. My mother, if she were here, I’m sure she would be proud.”

Gonzalez is always willing to try new things. Although he had doubts when a friend told him to join the theater club, he did, working closely with the crew to meet the set schedule. And he found time to be himself.

“I had to communicate with the actors and everything, and they told me how nervous they were,” he said, “and I said, ‘You guys got that, don’t worry.'”

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