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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.