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Seniors receive support with college application process

Photo: LAC member Adrian Gonzalez (’07) speaks to members of the Class of 2021 at Career Day (March, 2020).


Fall is always a stressful time for high school seniors working on college applications, even during the best of times. For Cristo Rey’s soon-to-be first-generation college students, navigating the process from home becomes even more daunting. With the building closed for now, Director of College Counseling Reina Garcia (’07) has reworked support structures for personal statements, essays, and letters of recommendation for the virtual context.

This new environment allowed members of Cristo Rey’s Leadership Advisory Council (LAC) to support the college application process as trained volunteers. Members of the LAC are young professionals who support the school through advocacy, fundraising, and volunteering. Last spring, the group hosted the Junior Career Fair, which included resume-building and interview-prep workshops for the Class of 2021. Seeing them through the college application process was an obvious extension of their mentorship. The volunteers exchanged emails with seniors, set up Teams video calls, and worked through the drafts.

Director of College Support and Alumni Relations Elizabeth Galka explained, “The LAC members are able to provide a more informed review of essays because they all have had college experiences and are aware of the trends. Being able to give students individual feedback and work through multiple drafts allows college counseling to take care of working with the student on the other aspects of their application and provides a good mentoring relationship for the student.”

LAC volunteers came away with a deeper appreciation for the applicants. Vic Guerrieri, senior audit manager at Grant Thornton and LAC member since 2016, worked with Ingrid M., whose dream schools are Northwestern and Harvard. Vic shared that, “Ingrid has been a pleasure to work with and has been very impressive with her summer experiences that have helped her in writing her essays.” LAC member Adrian Gonzalez (’07) is used to working with Cristo Rey students as a Mock Trial Team coach and Drama Club director. Despite his familiarity with the student body, Adrian remarked, “I often forget I'm working with high school students; their self-reflections are so insightful. I don't think I understood my own identity until college.” Joanna Lucca, LAC volunteer and former Cristo Rey employee, summarizes what it feels like to work with this senior class, “It has been energizing working with the Cristo Rey students on their college essays. I always find myself in positive spirits after meeting with them. The students have demonstrated how they are open to feedback, appreciative of support, and simply kind. They are truly inspiring and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to work with these admirable students.”

At Cristo Rey, senior students with a GPA of 3.0 and above are required to submit at least one application for an early action deadline. With the help of our volunteers, 52 students have already submitted 146 applications, with hundreds more to come! Thank you to our College Counseling team and our LAC volunteers for their work in ensuring another year of 100% college acceptance, with the Class of 2021.

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Freshmen Students Explore the Workplace, Virtually


This fall, for the first time in Cristo Rey’s 25-year history, students did not deploy to offices for in-person professional work experiences. Instead, the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) has expanded remote work opportunities and training for a safe return to offices in 2021.

Students unable to work remotely participate in weekly, targeted professional development activities, including Microsoft Excel Certification training and a leadership curriculum designed by Accenture. Freshman students participate in the rigorous First Year Business Institute, replacing the two-week, intensive business training that typically occurs during the summer before freshman year. 

Perhaps the most anticipated part of the traditional freshman training is the Company Exploration field trip, where students tour an office and participate in Q&A with employees who might soon become their co-workers.  In this year’s virtual format, students still had the opportunity to hear directly from supervisors and company leaders, gaining a deeper understanding of organizations, their structures, and the roles and functions of various departments. 

Five partner companies - Gibsons Restaurant Group, Latham & Watkins, LKQ, SEIU and The John Buck Company - spent a morning virtually hosting these freshmen students.  Employees gave them a virtual tour of the office and answered great  questions such as, “Does your company have a motto to get motivated?”; “What does success look like in your department?”; and “Why does your department hire Cristo Rey workers?”

The employees from LKQ were especially excited to meet the Class of 2024.  Representatives from each department where the students work, including Accounting, Audit, Finance, and Legal, were able to give insight into the student experience at their company.  LKQ President and CEO, Dominick Zarcone, also Chair of Cristo Rey’s Board of Directors, attended the session and spoke to students.

The team at LKQ shared that “The Company Exploration was well organized by Cristo Rey.  LKQ Corporation looks forward to mentoring Cristo Rey students every year and in light of our current situation, we were excited to be able to present our company to the freshmen class.  We were delighted by the inquisitive nature of the students in learning more about us in our Q&A session and look forward to the day when we can welcome the students back into our offices to continue that learning.”

Students and job partners eagerly await the day they can safely return to their work assignments in person.  In the meantime, experiences such as the Company Exploration class give freshmen students exposure to the professional environment they will soon become part of.

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CR Student Speaks at National Conference


More than 30 students and faculty participated in the annual Ignatian Family Teach In for Justice Conference at the end of October. Although a delegation of students was not able to travel to Washington D.C., the Ignatian Solidarity Network provided engaging opportunities to listen to the voices of social justice in the United States. Cristo Rey junior Lizbeth V. gave a powerful account of her social activism and encouraged everyone to move forward for change and justice.

In Lizbeth's own words: “I'm a 17 year-old Latina, currently living in the South Side of Chicago. My current "job" has been an activist. I want to educate my people on the issues that young people and I face everyday. It's not just about me getting fame but making sure that these stories that have been lost can come to the light and be heard. Spanish is the first language I learned to speak and I'm so proud to speak it. I'm part of #IncreaseThePeace, an organization fighting the violence in the neighborhood.”

Watch Lizbeth's full speech HERE (17:04-21:35)

 

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Visit our Virtual Ofrenda

This year, we remember those we have lost in our community through this virtual ofrenda.

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Put Cristo Rey to Work

Corporate Partners invest in the development of a diverse workforce and in our students’ futures, building qualified and talented future leadership within their company industry.

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