This is the eleventh of 20 profiles about The Gazette's Best and Brightest Class of 2014.
At the end of his sophomore year, Joe Colarelli spent his summer patching drywall and getting schooled in the harsh realities of life.
It was more than the drudgery of long hours and intense labor that taught him life lessons. He also was deeply influenced by a co-worker he refers to only as Ricardo, a family man with two young kids and two additional jobs to help make ends meet.
"Ricardo was great. We got to be friends, so I don't want to diminish all that he did to help his family." Colarelli said, "But what he lacked was education. That summer solidified for me why higher education is so important."
It isn't just a college, and eventual medical school, education that Colarelli wants to pursue. He is most drawn to getting a Jesuit education. Mike Payne, Fountain Valley School associate director of admission and Colarelli's faculty adviser, wrote in his recommendation letter, "He has a strong moral barometer in general and he is specifically targeting Jesuit universities. . . because he is motivated by the concept of living a life in service to others."
Serving others may be part of Colarelli's DNA. His grandparents founded the Fostering Hope Foundation, a program providing foster children with safe, stable homes. Other members of his family are involved and Colarelli also logs hours when time allows.
At school, Colarelli serves on the Honor Council, the school's student/faculty judicial body; excels in Advanced Placement classes and is one of two soccer players to have played all four years, during which there have been three different coaches.
"Becoming a senior I learned to lead, but I think it's leadership through service," he said. "I helped the coach get to know our team and about Fountain Valley School. I kept on playing, even when others quit, because I love the sport."
Colarelli said his short-lived friendship with Ricardo made an impact. Although he doesn't attribute his desire to become a doctor on that experience, he said it did help reinforce it.
"Becoming a doctor was something I had thought about for a while even before getting to know Ricardo," he said. "I watched shows like 'Scrubs' and 'House' and thought they were cool, if not for the right reasons."