Three alumni of Kids Unlimited Academy and recent graduates of St. Mary’s School all are college-bound.

Jessica Cruz, Katherine Mejia and Trystin Shane Vannatta each attended St. Mary’s on a full four-year scholarship coordinated between the Medford secondary school and KUA. The program, instituted in 2019, is the only direct collaboration of its kind between St. Mary’s and another school, said Bethany Brown, St. Mary’s director of advancement.

The partnership between St. Mary’s and KUA began over 15 years ago when St. Mary’s students volunteered to read to and mentor at-risk KUA students. Because of this unique relationship, supporters of both schools came together to completely fund four scholarships for qualified KUA 8th graders to attend St. Mary’s for four years of high school, said Brown.

KUA identifies their best and brightest students and encourages them to apply for the St. Mary’s Scholarship. St. Mary’s conducts the interviews and selects students who will enhance its community and benefit from its education.

Recipients of the scholarship receive four years of tuition including all academic fees, sports fees, textbooks, daily lunch and a Google Chromebook. Representatives of both schools say that a St. Mary’s education would be unattainable for recipient students without the generosity of donors funding this scholarship

Cruz, Mejia and Vannatta shared their future plans and reminisced about their time at KUA:

Jessica Cruz, who attended KUA from third through eighth grades, said she will attend Drexel University in Philadelphia. About being a KUA student, she said she loved the range of opportunities available and her most memorable moment at KUA was the eighth-grade trip to Six Flags amusement park.

Jessica Cruz, right, poses with Katherine Mejia, left.

Katherine Mejia, who attended KUA from fifth through eighth grades, said she is going to Fordham University in New York with plans to study international relations, pre-law. Recalling “field day” as her most memorable KUA moment, she said. “I loved the close knit family and the connections I made.”

Trystin Shane Vannatta, who attended KUA in third grade, said he is planning a college major in psychology. What did he love about being a KUA student? “It was like a soft introduction to everything I would eventually have to get used to. It allowed me to get to where I am today.”

And his most memorable KUA moments? “I went through so much there — it’s hard. All my goods and bads as a kid were primarily experienced there.” But he said if he had to choose one memory, it would be how the teachers at KUA truly connected with him and treated him like an individual from early on.