Pursuing Purpose

By: Alyssa Mendez
Calvary Christian Academy seniors Matthew Barnes, Cristen Knapp, Juan Moscoso, and Joshua Pilote — this year’s National Merit Scholars and National Hispanic Scholars — have not just achieved the highest levels of academic excellence at CCA, but have done so to live out the unique callings God has for each of their lives. As you read what these students were made for, we encourage you to reflect upon the vision the Lord had for your life when he created you.

“What is my purpose?”

This is perhaps one of the greatest existential questions of all time. Even Christians who have confidence in their eternal security can oftentimes wonder what exactly God created them to do/be.

In Craig Groeschel’s book Chazown , he describes this Hebrew word as the vision God had in mind for your life when He created you. It's this harmonious, purposeful place where one's past experiences, values, and spiritual gifts intersect to reveal what God made you for as it relates to advancing His heavenly Kingdom and will here on earth.

Many people live out their lives never knowing what their chazown is, but some are fortunate enough to have such clarity of calling, either knowingly or unknowingly. If you were to meet Calvary Christian Academy seniors Matthew Barnes, Cristen Knapp, Juan Moscoso, and Joshua Pilote, you would instantly gather that these bright, humble students are living out their God-given purpose.

As National Merit Scholars and National Hispanic Scholars who began their CCA journeys in Lower School, they have been recognized for having outstanding GPAs, some of the highest SAT/ACT scores in the country, completing hundreds of hours of community service, and balancing their commitment to academics with a wide-range of extracurricular activities. But more importantly, each of them has their eye set on career paths that will give them the opportunity to pursue their long-time interests, passions, and talents for God’s glory.
May their respective stories and chazowns inspire you to discover and live out yours!


Class of 2021 Salutatorian

National Merit Scholar
National Hispanic Scholar

Life Verse: “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” –Isaiah 46:4

  • College: University of Florida
  • Major: Economics (Pre-Law)

This soon-to-be Gator will be attending UF — currently ranked #6 in Top Public Schools nationwide — on a full scholarship as a recipient of the Benacquisto Scholarship. This award is offered to all National Merit Scholars who apply to the university and totals approximately $100,000. Barnes earned a perfect score on the ACT, which is only achieved by 0.33% of all test takers nationwide (Edwards, 2020).

His interest in economics and the world of investing developed in the beginning of high school when he took the initiative to start reading finance and business-related news articles. Barnes credits his parents and the verse Colossians 3:23 for driving his commitment to pursuing knowledge and excellence. Not only has he taken the most rigorous courses CCA offers, earning him the recognition of AP Scholar with Distinction, but he has also maximized his CCA experience by participating in Varsity sports, such as lacrosse and swimming, and serving others.

Throughout High School he has earned more than 700 community service hours, served on eight international mission trips, and has been a foster brother for six years. Out of everything he has accomplished, the experience he holds closest to his heart is leading his CCA small group for multiple years, helping his classmates become more courageous men of God.

“I couldn’t imagine my childhood without CCA. I have become not only a better scholar, but a better Christian through my time here,” said Barnes. “I hope to use what I have learned to remain in God’s will and push His Kingdom forward in whatever ways He would will.”



National Hispanic Scholar
Life Verse: “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” –Psalm 46:5

  • College: University of Alabama at Birmingham Honors College
  • Major: Genetic and Genomic Sciences
  • Minor: Computer Science

Knapp is poised for greatness in the STEM field as a student in the biomedical track of CCA’s STEM endorsement program. Through this experience and the mentorship she received from CCA teachers like Mrs. Quinn, she has gained practical, clinical experience that will help her live out her dream of one day earning a doctoral degree in genetics and becoming a clinical researcher.

“I’ve always just wanted to figure out how things worked and wasn’t satisfied until I got to the molecular level. The biomedical classes at CCA allowed me to focus that interest into genetics,” said Knapp.
Click here to learn how Project Lead the Way’s (PLTW) college-preparatory curriculum is not only preparing CCA students to lead in the STEM field at the highest caliber, but to do so for Jesus’ glory!
This year, PLTW and College Board awarded Knapp with the Student Achievement in Engineering and Biomedical Science Awards. This achievement signals to colleges and potential employers that Knapp is ready for and interested in advanced studies and a career in the STEM disciplines. She certainly caught the eye of admission officers at UAB who awarded her with the prestigious Presidential Scholarship, which totals $120,000 over the course of four years. This university is one of the few in the country to offer an undergraduate genetics program of its kind.
The achievement Knapp is most proud of is competing on CCA’s internationally-ranked robotics team as co-captain since freshman year
The achievement Knapp is most proud of is competing on CCA’s internationally-ranked robotics team as co-captain since freshman year where her leadership and documentation skills helped the team win various awards, including the state Excellence Award and Design Award. Knapp’s love for learning along with her work ethic that stems from her Cuban heritage have not only inspired her to achieve at such high levels, but to dedicate her life to helping people, both physically and spiritually.



National Hispanic Scholar

Life Verse: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” –Proverbs 31:8-9

  • College: University of Central Florida Honors College
  • Major: Mathematics and Computer Science

Some students are blessed to earn full-ride scholarships for college, and then there are students like Juan Moscoso who actually get paid to go to school! On top of earning a full-ride to UCF because of his National Hispanic Scholar recognition, Moscoso also qualified for the most competitive scholarship that Bright Futures offers (Florida Academic Scholars Award), which means he will be refunded roughly $3,000 each semester.

The college application process proved to be a challenge for his family. His parents, from Colombia, had never gone through this process before in the United States, but with the help of his CCA school counselor, Mrs. Ramsay, they walked through every step of the journey together. This helped Moscoso gain admission into other notable state schools like UF, UM, and FSU. Moscoso’s motivation to excel is fueled by his parents who sacrificed much when they immigrated to the U.S. to provide him and his brother with a better life. He made the most of his schooling experience by immersing himself in all that CCA has to offer.
He made the most of his schooling experience by immersing himself in all that CCA has to offer.
When Moscoso was an elementary student at CCA, he won the Math Olympics multiple times, which sparked his interest in mathematics. As a musician involved in the school’s Fine Arts department, he is most proud of being selected to perform at the University of Miami’s Frost Honor Band, Disney’s Candlelight Professional, and the FBA Solo & Ensemble Festival. He also played tennis at CCA all throughout middle and high school where he was mentored by Coach Bob Ostrander, who was also his PE teacher in middle school.

“Coach O was a key part of my growth as a Christian, as he was the perfect role model. He always thanked God after everything and before everything,” said Moscoso. “CCA’s teachers genuinely want to help you and see you succeed.”

Moscoso aspires to become a researcher in theoretical computer science or a software engineer. But in terms of short-term goals, he plans to stay connected in God’s Word and bond with other Christians during his time as a UCF Knight. He is also looking forward to participating in Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute — a four-week online program for rising college freshmen with a passion for technology.



Class of 2021 Valedictorian

National Merit Scholar

Life Verse: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” –Colossians 3:12

  • College: Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Major: Medical Molecular Biology (Pre-Med)

Like Knapp, CCA’s STEM endorsement program has prepared Pilote for a future career in medicine. At the moment, he is leaning toward a specialization in endocrinology. Some other experiences that have prepared Pilote for a promising future in the medical field include his active involvement in CCA’s HOSA – Future Health Professionals club and in NSU’s Medical Explorers Program, which is designed for high school students in Broward County interested in the medical profession. He has also worked as a research assistant for Clinical Research Center of Florida in Pompano Beach where he gained experience drawing blood, collecting vital signs, and compiling lab reports.

“For as long as I can remember, everything that’s alive has absolutely fascinated me,” said Pilote.

Additionally, Pilote — who has attended CCA since Pre-K3 — has completed more than 300 hours of community service, competitively swam for CCA in both middle and high school, and earned a perfect score on the ACT. He believes that no other school could have provided better spiritual, academic, and social opportunities for him to prepare him for this next chapter of his life.
“My hope is to be the person God is calling me to be. CCA has really helped me realize this dream,”
Oral Roberts University — one of the largest and most influential Christian universities in the world — awarded him their Quest Whole Leader Scholarship ($30,000 value) along with an additional $6,000 a year grant to assist with living expenses. Furthermore, he was named one of 16 Honors Fellows who will engage in a more academically rigorous course load, work directly under professors, and receive additional research and networking opportunities. Similar to CCA’s mission, the Medical Molecular Biology program he will be a part of at ORU is committed to developing Holy Spirit-empowered leaders and preparing them to pursue their callings.

“My hope is to be the person God is calling me to be. CCA has really helped me realize this dream,” said Pilote. “I fully plan on putting my all into every endeavor I take on, as if I were doing it for the Lord Himself.”

Whether you have a clear vision of what God has called you to do/be, or if that’s something you’re still figuring out, we hope these four students have inspired you to commit to the Lord in whatever you do (Proverbs 16:3) and keep your eyes fixed on Him every step of your journey — one of the greatest achievements you can achieve in this lifetime that will carry on to the next.

We invite you to cheer on Matthew, Cristen, Juan, Joshua and the entire Class of 2021 as they walk across the stage tonight at their graduation ceremony by tuning into CCAEagles.org/Live at 7:00 PM!

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