Pedro Gavilano ’11: using the skills he learned at MSS as a biology major in college

January 16, 2019 | Abby Liu


Pedro with his sister, Rafaela. Pedro will soon graduate from Montclair State University and pursue a masters degree.

Even though it was nine years ago, Pedro remembers very clearly what it felt like to be in seventh grade as he faced his first Mustard Seed School Academic Exhibition. Nervous. He definitely felt nervous. The assignment, an Art Exhibition, had multiple components: research, analysis, comparing and contrasting artwork, an essay, and a public presentation.

Pedro also remembers receiving the support that he needed to be successful. Ms. Miller and Ms. Hanson helped him revise his paper and gave him ideas on how to intrigue the reader. Ms. Buckley taught him key art concepts and how to identify them in a painting. And Mr. Choi coached him through the presentation. Helped him relax and remain calm so that he could connect with his audience.

According to Pedro, experiences like the Art Exhibition taught him three key lessons that he still uses today: organization, persistence, and independence. A senior at Montclair State University, he’s majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. He’s most interested in the fields of genetics and biomedical engineering and plans to pursue a masters degree after he graduates in the spring.

Middle school students beware! Pedro confesses that he pretended that he didn’t like to sing when he was at MSS, but it turns out that he really does. For most of his college career, he sang bass in a mixed a capella group. He’s particularly fond of his group’s arrangement of the Meghan Trainor/John Legend song, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.

When he’s not studying, Pedro works for the recreation department of Clifton, NJ, maintaining the soccer fields. He also works for the Department of the Interior National Park Services at the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park as a Park Ranger. He tries to serve others, to lend a hand whenever he can, and to always turn a negative situation into a positive.

The financial aid program at MSS was significant to Pedro. He’s aware of the many opportunities that have been available to him because of the strong foundation he received here. To our donors he says, “Thank you for giving me and so many other children all of these beautiful memories that we will never forget.”

Finally, he wants to say thank you to all of his teachers—everyone from Mr. Cuervo and Mrs. Johnson (kindergarten teachers) all the way through to Mr. Choi (8th grade). “Thank you for all of the lessons and experiences that each of you gave to me. I love you all with all of my heart! Thank you!”


Abby Liu

Former Director of Marketing and Communications

Abby Liu was the Director of Marketing and Communications from Sept. 2018-August 2021 and was an employee of Mustard Seed School for over 14 years. She’s the parent of two Mustard Seed School alumni. She's seen the impact of a Mustard Seed education from the early preschool days all the way up to eighth grade and beyond, and thoroughly enjoys sharing the Mustard Seed School story to this day.

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