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Rey of Hope: Chris and Kathy Perry

At Cristo Rey Jesuit’s annual ¡VIVA! gala on May 2, President Antonio Ortiz presented the Rey of Hope Award to Chris and Kathy Perry, two remarkable supporters who have driven the Cristo Rey mission forward, taking extraordinary steps to also ensure alumni success in college and beyond.

Chris and Kathy have established endowed scholarships at their alma maters, exclusively for students of Cristo Rey schools – providing these students with a cost-free education. The Chris Perry Scholarship at University of Illinois gives full scholarships to any graduate of the three Illinois Cristo Rey schools attending the Gies College of Business. The James Gartland, SJ Scholarship at Georgetown University is administered by the university and is only available to Cristo Rey graduates. These scholarships have been awarded to nearly 40 Cristo Rey alumni, including a dozen currently enrolled.

The highlight of the evening was hearing from Valeria ’24 and Mauricio ’24 as they talked about their family’s long history with Cristo Rey, how they overcame a freshman year impacted by the pandemic, and the highs and lows of the college application process. Valeria then surprised the audience by announcing her acceptance of the Chris Perry Scholarship for the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois!

WATCH: Cristo Rey Jesuit alumni Brenda Anaya '17, Hilda Carrasco '14, Reina Garcia '07, and President Antonio Ortiz honor Chris and Kathy Perry in this special video tribute.

Pictured above: Brenda Anaya '17, Martin Arredondo '12, Kathy Perry, Chris Perry, Hilda Carrasco '14, Alexis Garcia '16, and President Antonio Ortiz. University of Illinois Perry Scholars Anaya, Arredondo, Carrasco, and Garcia were all on stage to present the Rey of Hope Award to the Perrys.

Above: Kathy and Chris Perry (center) with the Ibarra-Munoz family. Valeria '24, third from right, will be attending the University of Illinois in the fall as a Perry Scholar.

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Paying Attention: A CWSP Supervisor's Reflection

CWSP Testimonial: Dan Lornitis, GTCR

Paying Attention

Through Cristo Rey Jesuit’s Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP), students work for and earn a majority of the cost of their education — giving access to a quality, college preparatory education and providing valuable work experience to help students succeed in college and beyond.

Our CWSP job partners are the champions who invest in our students and give their own employees opportunities to engage with the next generation of the workforce.  Our partners and their dedicated team members are the backbone of an innovative program that continues to prove its success through the accomplishments of our 2,659 alumni.

One of these dedicated team members is Dan Lornitis, Director of Facilities & Office Services for private equity firm, GTCR. When Cristo Rey honored GTCR for their 20 years of partnership at their annual ¡VIVA! gala on May 2, Dan proudly accepted the award on behalf of the company. Dan has made a significant impact on Cristo Rey student workers as a supervisor and mentor for nearly two decades with GTCR. On the heels of receiving their award Dan shared the following story with the CWSP team. Dan’s inspiring reflection on his former student worker, Cesar, demonstrates the lasting connections fostered through the Corporate Work Study Program, and the lasting impressions made on our students.

“In celebration of our 20 year partnership with Cristo Rey, I’d like to highlight a former student worker, Cesar Izaguirre.

In 2012, when Cesar “Ceez” Izaguirre was a high school freshman, he joined our GTCR Office Services Team.  Like most freshmen, he was quiet and shy at first, but he soon warmed to his new surroundings. Before we knew it, he was providing us with updates about his progress in school, tales of his weekend activities, and memories of his family trips. A key memory of mine is when he confided in me that while hanging out at his neighborhood barbershop, he was learning how to cut hair.  Soon I learned that on weekends, his friends were dropping by his home to receive a “Ceez” special.

Word got out that he was pretty good, and so he set up shop and started taking appointments. He admitted that he enjoyed cutting hair so much that he wished to buy his own pair of clippers, setting his sights on an $85 clipper kit on Amazon.

Ceez said he planned on saving his money for a few months to buy them, but when I heard this, I immediately went on Amazon and clicked “Add to Cart,” surprising him with the set the following week. He was thrilled and insisted on paying me back.  He was curious, though, how I knew—or even remembered—which clippers to buy?  I told him that listening to him talk about his passion was exciting and interesting, and when something interests me, I pay attention!

I’ve stayed in touch with Ceez for many years as he worked to become a fully trained and licensed Barber at a popular shop in Chicago.  I would occasionally stop in to get a haircut and an update about his progress toward owning his own shop one day ...

… and that day soon arrived!  In 2022, Ceez became an owner/operator of Platinum Fades in Wrigleyville. With a team of 8-10 barbers, he’s killing it!  The last time I stopped in for a fresh cut, I learned that Ceez had started mentoring others who wanted to become a Barber. He said being part of Cristo Rey’s Corporate Work Study Program, and working at GTCR, gave him an important opportunity to engage with successful, driven individuals and credits his time at the firm for building his confidence and nourishing his ambition to become an entrepreneur.

In the middle of a recent trip to his shop, Ceez stepped away from my chair for a moment to check on one of his up-and-coming barbers. I watched through the mirror and witnessed this once shy and timid freshman confidently coach this barber-to-be with patience and encouragement. Throughout this interaction, I couldn’t help but noticed the clippers I bought him were resting on his workstation, and taped on the wall nearby was a handwritten note that said, “When you find something interesting, pay attention!”

If you need a fresh cut or nice fade, take a trip to 3309 N. Clark Street in Wrigleyville, step into Platinum Fades, and ask for Ceez. He’ll do you proud!"

The Corporate Work Study Program takes an innovative approach to work-based learning and education that equips young people with the knowledge, network, and skills to become the leaders of tomorrow in Chicago and beyond.

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a job partner, contact Maureen McInerney.

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Alumni Spotlight: Iris Gonzalez '17


Meet Iris Gonzalez, Class of 2017

Tell us a little bit about yourself, what have you been up to since graduating Cristo Rey?
Since graduating from Cristo Rey I have done work focused on youth. I attended Saint Xavier University and double majored in Sociology and Political Science with a minor in Latino Studies. I’m currently a Congressional Staffer in the U.S. Senate. I am a Caseworker & Community Outreach Coordinator and what I enjoy the most is the duality of my roles. I am able to be in the community and listen to NGOs and community members about what is working and what isn’t and go back and talk to the legislative team to support/pass legislation that is reflective of the community’s needs. I am also able to offer the direct service of casework and work on the cases. The issue areas that I cover happen to align with topics that I am most passionate about and ultimately reflect who I am, a first-generation daughter of immigrants. Currently, I’m working on creating an online bilingual resource folder for mixed family status across the state of Illinois that covers every subject. In my time off I like to play the violin, dance, and hang out with family and friends 

What advice would you give other alumni or current students who aspire to pursue a similar career path?
The advice I would give other alumni or current students who aspire to pursue a similar career path would be to apply to internships and treat it as a long job interview. Always ask for work if you are not at capacity. Don’t be afraid to ask folks for coffee to learn more about them, the work that they do, or a specific topic, and lean on your mentors! Something that I truly struggled with was imposter syndrome and so I would say, if you do too, affirm yourself daily and remind yourself that you work hard and deserve to be in the space that you are in. Always stay true to yourself and your values. Your perspective is so important, especially in fields like these. 

Do you believe Cristo Rey has impacted your career or the person you are today? If so, how?
I most definitely believe Cristo Rey impacted the person I am today! I lead with intention and with the mentality of being committed to justice. Due to the amazing mentors and strong sense of community, I love to mentor and amplify community voices in my field. The CWSP program allowed me to form my work ethic. In high school, I already knew what fields I most definitely did not want to join, which was very helpful! I still use some of the tips that I learned during orientation, like the firm handshake or carrying a pen and paper when talking to my supervisor. It also helped with my social skills in the workplace, it allowed me to learn at an earlier age how to speak to adults. Since then, I’ve been able to develop that into networking skills and better maneuver spaces that I had not had the opportunity to be in before.  

Do you have a favorite story about your time at Cristo Rey?
One of my favorite moments that would not have been possible without Cristo Rey, was watching how proud my mother was on graduation day as she only completed a third-grade level education back in Mexico.  

How would you describe Cristo Rey? 
Cristo Rey offers the most beautiful community possible. I miss being a student sometimes! There was something so special about being in a space where culturally you were understood and empowered. I have always been extremely proud of my heritage, but I am unsure if I would have been able to show up to spaces within my field as true to my Mexican self as I do had Cristo Rey not celebrated Latinidad so vibrantly. Academically, Cristo Rey allowed me to graduate with a great resume at the age of 18. I did not know it then, but my previous supervisors and even my classmates would become part of my network and vice versa. In a couple of words, Cristo Rey is a second home.  

Thank you Iris for sharing your Cristo Rey story. Connect with Iris on LinkedIn.

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Class of 2024 Graduation Live Stream

Tune in to watch the Class of 2024 graduate on Friday, June 7! Live Stream will begin just before Noon. 
Watch Live

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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