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Alumni Spotlight: Elizabeth Nieto '14

Meet alumna Elizabeth Nieto '14

Elizabeth 'Liz' Nieto supported Cristo Rey's College Counseling Department during her time as a Jesuit Volunteer, and is continuing her career at a nonprofit working with college students.

CR Grad Year: 2014 
College: Loyola University Chicago 
Majors: Criminal Justice and Criminology, Spanish  

Where are you now?
Currently, I am completing my second year working with Bottom Line, a national nonprofit that works with high school students through their college application process and supports college students in earning their bachelor's degrees in six years or less. My current role is being a Senior Access Advisor, who supports high school seniors through their college application process!  

How did you become interested in your field?
I completed two years of service with Cristo Rey’s Jesuit Volunteer program, and I worked mainly with the college counseling department. One can say I “stumbled” into this work. As the first person in their family to graduate from college, I found myself asking a lot of questions during the college application process, but it was also difficult navigating college! Luckily, I had staff members who cared about my college journey and I love being that support to our future generations.  

What do you enjoy the most? What do you enjoy doing with your free time? 
I enjoy being spontaneous. The past two years have made me realize that life is too short, and I like to spend my free time doing things with the people I love. At home, we’re a big family, so we always have something going on! Personally, I enjoy travelling, attending concerts, watching anime, and reading. I also like to dance with my nieces.  

Any special project you have worked on this past year?
I was in charge of the programming for Bottom Line’s Annual College Signing Day Party in our Chicago region this year. This is an event where we create a space to celebrate our high school seniors attending college. Students get to hear a speech from a board member, a current college student in our Success program and have other staff from our office join in to help celebrate them as well. It is a great way for everyone to see how hard the students have worked to get to this point and look forward to their college experiences.  

What advice would you give other alumni or current students who aspire to pursue a similar career path?
Network! Working in the higher education field, you will realize it is a small world!  Be an active listener and be patient to folks you are serving. It is their college process, and you are there to recommend and offer advice on how to submit the best college application to the schools they apply to. Also, I would say that it would be helpful for you do any youth development work while you’re in college/life in general. You can major in anything and still do this work! 

Do you believe Cristo Rey has impacted your career or the person you are today? If so, how?
Yes, it has! Our dual language curriculum at Cristo Rey has allowed me to be able to read, write, and speak in Spanish. Being able to communicate orally and in writing in another language has allowed me to confidently demonstrate a part of my identity and have others feel comfortable knowing there is no language barrier. The skills I learned in my CWSP job I have been able to use while in college, but also in my current career. I worked in the human resources department and learned a lot about human interaction/customer service. Being an active listener, staying organized, time management, public speaking to both students and families, and being able to strongly communicate in two languages has opened a lot of professional development opportunities for me.  

Do you have a favorite story about your time at Cristo Rey?
So many, but one that immediately came to mind was being part of the Drama Club and Stage Crew in our school plays. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I grew more confident in speaking/performing in public spaces.  

How would you describe Cristo Rey to someone who is new to the school? OR What would you say to prospective Cristo Rey families who are considering Cristo Rey?
f you are looking for a big community that encourages students to excel academically, socially, mentally and emotionally, Cristo Rey is the place for you. This school is a place that feels like home, and they welcome everyone. I know I am always welcomed back with open arms.  

Thank you to Liz ’14 for sharing your story with us. We appreciate the work you have been doing in the college access community and the passion you have for higher education! Connect with Liz on LinkedIn