Strive for Excellence

For Edwin Madera, Cardinal Hayes wasn’t even on the radar when he was applying to high schools. His mother, on the other hand, was adamant about the young Madera attending Hayes. Initially, he was a bit resistant to the idea of an all-boys parochial school, but he soon learned that his experience at Hayes would eventually change his life. This was the story he shared with 85 inductees at the 2016 Fall Honors Convocation. “Hayes was a place of inspiration. It made me believe that I could do anything. All the teachers I met helped me to believe in myself. Mr. Lessa who was my guidance counselor was always positive and gave me good feedback. This place gave me the key to success.”

After graduating from Hayes in 1993, Madera attended Boston College. He went on to immerse himself in humanitarian work in different parts of the world including Mexico and Kingston, Jamaica. Today, public service continues to play an integral role in Madera’s career. As the Affirmative Action Officer for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, he is at the forefront of change. What has always fueled his career are the core values of determination, hard work and mutual respect that he learned at Hayes.

Those values resonated with many of the students in the audience. Michael Ayala, a First Honors inductee, was impressed with Madera’s strong stance on leadership and education. “The most important message from Mr. Madera’s speech is to be a leader in life. You must not only create but also be an influencer. I love to help people in need. That is my motto. His whole transition from public to Catholic School and then attending a top college like Boston College has inspired me to create a career like his.”

Another Hayesman who also gave an impassioned speech was Student Body President and First Honors recipient Ezekiel Ayala-Santos. Like Madera, Ayala-Santos did not understand the impact of being a Hayesmen. It was at his father’s funeral when he witnessed true brotherhood and friendship. The Hayes community gathered to give him support in his darkest hour. This was the turning point for him. He witnessed the support and guidance that he heard so much about. In his address to the audience, he gave a thought provoking speech entitled Cardinal and Gold. The speech centered on the peaks and valleys of life. “As men of Hayes, we are exposed to a world of cardinals, where every day there is a new challenge, a new threat, a new pain to endure. And when you face these cardinals, you take on the fight and you overcome, keep pushing, keep going forward until your cardinal becomes your gold.”

Although both men are from two different generations, they are inextricably linked by a fraternity that transcends time and age. They are equally committed to uplift and inspire the next generation of Hayesmen in the spirit of academic excellence.
The Mission of Cardinal Hayes High School, a community based in Roman Catholic values, is to inspire diverse young men of the New York City metropolitan area to become lifelong learners and responsible citizens. We will accomplish this goal by encouraging students' spiritual and intellectual growth through a rigorous college preparatory program of academics, extra-curricular activities, and personal discipline.