Navigating through life has not been an easy task for Alejandro Baez Tejeda.

He was born at 34 weeks and developed Retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disease in which abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina. He is legally blind and cannot see at all out of his left eye.
Despite his disability, Alejandro not only graduated from St. John’s Prep, an all-boys high school in Danvers, but he’s heading to College of the Holy Cross in Worcester in the fall to study political science and sociology.

At graduation, Alejandro received the Xaverian Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a graduating senior who best epitomizes the values and tradition of Xaverian education. He also earned a religious studies award and a social studies award.

Head of School Ed Hardiman praised Alejandro.

“Alejandro is a young man who has faced multiple obstacles in life and, rather than focus on his challenges, he sees his obstacles as a means to empower himself to contribute more positively to the experiences of others,” Hardiman said, adding, “He models the vocation of servant leadership that we teach at St. John’s.”

Within his college essay, Alejandro was asked if there had been a cure for his blindness, would he take it. He said no.

“I feel I’ve built a resilience because I’ve always had to take the long path in life which has benefited me,” he said.

That meant sitting in the front row in class, listening more attentively and memorizing all of his speeches because of his blindness.

“I can’t see the beauty of nature, but I can contribute to it,” he said, noting he has written over 100 poems.

Alejandro was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the United States as a toddler. He attended the Tenney School and graduated from Bellesini Academy in Lawrence.

He was also bullied and discriminated against because of his disability and ethnicity, he says, and took it as a challenge.

Although St. John’s was a 45-minute drive from Methuen, Alejandro said he chose to attend the school because of the Center for Learning and Academic Success, and Alejandro worked closely with Learning Specialist Laurel Page such as when he needed strategies to overcome obstacles like reading small print, he said.

Alejandro also credits Raisa Velez Carrasco, director of multicultural affairs and community development, as a driving force at St. John’s.

“Alejandro is exemplary and I admire his resilience. He’s the kind of student whom you learn from as much as you teach him,” Velez Carrasco said.

In addition to succeeding in academics, Alejandro was an officer in LUNA (Latinos Unidos en Acción), Multicultural Affairs, Campus Ministry, Student Advisory Council, Gov. Maura Healey’s

Youth Climate Council, the Chess Club, Mock Trial and the Drama Guild playing the role of Orcus in the production of “She Kills Monsters.”

He was on the hiring team to employ safety officers after a 2023 shooting incident at the school.

However, Alejandro said his biggest accomplishment was starting a partnership between St. John and Ministerio El Niño Rey, a school and community center in Sabana Buey, Dominican Republic.

“The kids walk miles to learn how to read and I was touched by the value they have on education,” Alejandro said.

His legacy with Ministerio El Niño Rey will continue with fellow classmates overseeing the project.

Alejandro worked closely on this project with Stuart Meurer, Board of Trustees chair at St. John’s Prep.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Alejandro over the past couple of years. Alejandro models the Xaverian values of humility, simplicity, trust and especially compassion and zeal,” Meurer said.

“At St. John’s Prep, he inspired others through his servant leadership and I have no doubt he will continue to do so at Holy Cross. I look forward to watching Alejandro use his unique qualities to positively impact our world.”

Outside of St John’s, Alejandro helped manage the Jessica Aquino campaign for Lawrence City Council and was involved with the Capstone project on the Lawrence schools’ receivership.

He traveled to India last summer to learn about water sustainability.

As Alejandro talked about his high school years and future hopes of moving back to his native Dominican Republic to become a senator, his mother Carolin Tejeda beams with pride.

“There are no words to describe him; he’s unstoppable and I’m so proud of him,” she said.