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Growing up, Markle, 36, attended Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girl school for middle and high school students in Los Angeles.
“She had a lot of inner strength. She was spunky. She was feisty. She loved to sing. She loved to act, but she also had that depth, which kind of moved into all of her other subjects. And that was what came through in the end,” Christine Knudsen, who taught one of Markle’s senior elective classes, told ABC News’ “20/20.”
“She was a remarkable student even then. She was very enthusiastic about the material, but always took it a step further,” Maria Pollia, Markle’s former theology teacher, told “20/20.” “She always was able to go deeper and to really challenge herself, which is something that one looks for and hopes for with students, that they’ll take what you give them and then take it for themselves, make something important for themselves.”
Markle called Pollia one of her “mentors” and said the teacher had inspired her in “The Game Changers: Success Secrets of 40 Women at the Top,” a book Markle contributed to written by Samantha Brett and Steph Adams.
“I started working at a soup kitchen in Skid Row of Los Angeles when I was 13 years old, and the first day I felt really scared. I was young, and it was rough and raw down there, and though I was with a great volunteer group, I just felt overwhelmed,” Markle is quoted as saying in the book. “I remember one of my mentors, Mrs. Maria Pollia, told me that ‘Life is about putting others’ needs [above] your own fears.’ That has always stayed with me.”
Pollia said that as a junior in high school, Markle was very serious about trying to serve her community, especially those in places like Skid Row and other difficult areas of Los Angeles.
“She also had this compassion for homeless people, for gang members, for…