Learning the Ropes at DePaul Cristo Rey
Students develop skills working for archdiocese
Visitors to the ninth floor of the archdiocese’s Central Offices are likely to be greeted by the cheerful and professional presence of Rosemary Morena.
A 2015 graduate of DePaul Cristo Rey High School (DPCR), Morena began working at the archdiocese during her junior year as part of DPCR’s Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP). She recalls being drawn to the program while still in grade school at Holy Family in Price Hill. “I realized how many doors it would open for me, and it has,” she said. “I learned communication and problem solving skills, how to make a good first impression, and so much about how to interact with different kinds of people. I loved the whole experience.”
After graduation, Morena was thrilled to return to the archdiocese as a temporary employee, and even more excited to be hired as a part-time administrative assistant in January 2016.
Morena is just one of DPCR’s success stories. Established in 2011, DPCR is one of 32 schools in the national Cristo Rey Network. Cristo Rey students take a full course load of college preparatory coursework for four years, along with participating one day each week in a four-year work study program to fund the majority of their tuition. Through this program, every student works in a professional setting.
The archdiocese is one of DPCR’s “pioneer partners,” one of the organizations that has “been on board with us since the beginning, supported us and given us their blessing,” said Chris Wilke, director for curriculum and instruction at DPCR. “They know this is really Gospel driven work, in spirit and prayer, but also in the practical ways our students are benefitting. They’re learning about business, gaining technical expertise, having invaluable human interactions. Corporate work study brings what they’re studying real world relevance.”
Approximately 20 DPCR students have worked at the archdiocese to date, Wilke said. Other corporate partners include the Athenaeum of Ohio and Xavier University. During the 2016-2016 school year, archdiocesan offices are benefiting from the efforts and enthusiasm of four students.
At The Catholic Telegraph, Hannah Bender, a freshman at DPCR has been helping with filing, sending invoices, and organizing files and photos. She attended Holy Family School and said DPCR appealed to her specifically because of the work study program. “It prepares you for having a job when you’re older and gives you the kind of experiences colleges look for,” she explained.
Bender said she has found the CT staff to be “fun and welcoming,” and has especially enjoyed the opportunity to tackle some writing assignments, including a book review and what it’s meant to her to grow up Catholic. “I love to write,” she said, “to help explain things to people, express my opinion and tell stories.”
Working in the CISE (Catholic Inner-City Schools Education Fund) Office has special meaning for fellow freshman Tya Dixon. She attended a CISE school herself — St. Joseph in Cincinnati’s West End. Also impressed with the CWSP, she has been doing data entry, working on collating projects and reviewing essays submissions from CISE students hoping to earn high school scholarships.
“Working here means everything to me,” Dixon said. “I’m getting a feel for what it’s like to be in the workplace and really developing my sense of responsibility.”
“There’s good energy here, and good people. I like the work and it keeps me busy,” said Devin Gallagher, a sophomore who has tackled a variety of tasks for the Office for Divine Worship and Sacraments, Priests Personnel and Priestly Formation Offices, and Finance Office, from working with spread sheets to moving files and furniture. His decision to attend Cristo Rey was largely due to the fact that his sister, Dejah, now a senior, was already a student there.
“I’m learning what I’m good at and what my interests are,” he added.
Senior Ariel Williams, who attended St. Vivian School in Finneytown, admitted DPCR wasn’t on her radar when she started her high school search. “It’s not the path I was going to take, but then my mom told me about corporate work study. I couldn’t wait for the experience then. I knew I’d be getting a four-year head start on preparing for the future, gaining knowledge and experience in the real world.”
Williams has been working for both the Mission and Finance Offices doing clerical work, preparing checks, and writing “thank you” letters to donors, among other tasks.
“I really enjoy the people I work with and interacting with them, and strengthening my organizational and communication skills,” she said.
She hasn’t decided on a college yet, but hopes to study business, marketing or communications, and minor in creative writing.
Morena is grateful for the opportunities her time at DCPR and the archdiocese have provided. “I love my work,” she said. “I learn something new every day, whether it’s ministries the church is involved, or diversity in the archdiocese. And I’ve learned how to keep the faith and the importance of praying about everything.”
More than 100 companies and non-profit organizations work with De Paul Cristo Rey High School’s Work Study program. For information about how to become one, see DePaulCristoRey.org.