Alumni Voices: Baltazar Pizano

baltazarBaltazar Pizano graduated from Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep (Waukegan) in 2011. He matriculated to Loyola University Chicago. This profile originally appeared on Cristo Rey St. Martin’s website.

At 24, Baltazar Pizano is poised in the first half of 2017 to launch a promising start-up, join his father in his entrepreneurial efforts, and pass the CPA exam — with an ultimate goal of a long-term career in private equity.

Less than two years after graduating with honors from LUC, Baltazar is currently an investment analyst at Dunmore Capital Partners who plans to work alongside his father and help him manage his irrigation business, all while pursuing his own start-up ventures.

Graduating with a degree in accounting and finance, Baltazar was a member of LUC’s entrepreneurship club and Investment Banking and Financial Markets Association. He is currently a member of the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting and the Illinois CPA Society.

He attributes his work ethic to his father and mother, Baltazar Sr. and Maria, who put a high priority on education even though neither had attended college. They left Guanajuato, Mexico more than 20 years ago, for Waukegan, becoming U.S. citizens to provide better opportunities for their four children. The senior Pizano said that upon his arrival he was caught off guard. “Down the street on the corner there were kids selling drugs every day and no one ever did anything about it. That’s when I decided I needed to put my kids in a private school. They needed structure and discipline.”

Today three of his four children have graduated from Cristo Rey St. Martin, with Jose, the youngest, currently a student. The eldest, Mariana, graduated from LUC in 2014 and is currently a legal assistant at an immigration law firm in Waukegan. The Pizano’s other son, Eloy is currently at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Baltazar says the most important lessons he learned at Cristo Rey St. Martin are humility, helping others and the importance of pursuing higher education. While at Cristo Rey St. Martin, he participated in the Senior Student Council, Cross-Cultural Club, the track team and helped plan freshman retreats.

“CRSM taught me to dream big and that no matter my personal circumstances, I could succeed in life,” he says. The principal, Dr. Odiotti “was very support[ive] and encouraging about helping me apply to colleges, and he motivated me to study finance and push myself in college.”

The Corporate Work Study Program motivated him to pursue a business degree. His business aspirations were also inspired by his time as a student worker at EMCO Chemical Distributors, Crate & Barrel, and Catholic Charities. “Two of the three companies had very humble beginnings and now are multimillion dollar companies.”

His goals for the next 10 years are clear and focused. He wants to become “an established and proven serial entrepreneur, start a consulting business, become a successful investor and grow small businesses and to be happily married and financially sound.”

Alumni Voices: Rashad Mohammed

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetRashad Mohammed graduate from Cristo Rey New York High School in 2009. He then matriculated to College of the Holy Cross ’13, and is currently a member of Columbia Law School’s Class of 2019. He was featured in Cristo Rey New York’s 2016 Annual Report.

Describe your experience at Cristo Rey. My experience at Cristo Rey was completely eye-opening. Working in a corporate office helped me develop vital work experience and allowed me to learn how to interact in a professional environment. Academically, it helped me gain the skills I needed to enter and graduate from college. And on a personal level, it is where I formed lifelong friendships.

How have the skills you gained at Cristo Rey prepared you in your career? They gave me a strong sense of determination. It was at Cristo Rey that I was introduced to the idea of working and striving towards something better.

What do you value the most about Cristo Rey? I value the sense of pride the school has. Cristo Rey exposes its students to aspects of the world that students may not have any experience with. I really appreciate how the school works to instill a sense of pride in its students, regardless of the student’s background.

What made you interested in law? Law is in many ways the backbone of the world. Anything that you do is governed by laws and principles. As I got older and got to learn about landmark cases or massive business deals taking place, I really began to develop an interest in how the law governs our society. I also believe that with a law degree I’ll be able to make an impact in various societal sectors.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Ten years from now I hope to be doing work that truly motivates me and making substantial gains in my career. Cristo Rey will definitely be a part of my future. I really believe in the Cristo Rey model and hope to help advance it someday.

Student Voices: Perla Figuereo

perla-2-copyPerla Figuereo is a member of Cristo Rey New York High School’s Class of 2017. She was featured in Cristo Rey New York’s 2016 Annual Report discussing the ways she has taken full advantage of her Cristo Rey education.

Tell us about your Corporate Work Study Experience. I’ve worked for J.P. Morgan Chase since I was a freshman. It gives me a sense of maturity and motivation because I am surrounded by young professionals who serve as role models for what I can become once I graduate from college.

What skills have you obtained through your job? At first I never took initiative. I was content with not having much to do. But then I became motivated by my environment and decided to make the best of my time there. I’ve also developed better communication skills. Not only am I more willing to start a conversation with an adult, but I’ve also made more of an effort to better my English and interact more.

What challenges have you faced at your job? Being that I am from the Dominican Republic and go to school in Spanish Harlem, it has been a challenge to be in an environment that is so different then what I am used to. Working at my job is the first time that I’ve felt like a minority. I am different in race and in age, but have learned to embrace it by finding adults who can relate to me. By getting to know their story, I am more open to being myself around people who are different than me.

How has Cristo Rey prepared you for college? Cristo Rey has made college possible for me. As a young girl in the Dominican Republic, I never even imagined myself even applying to college. I know that if it wasn’t for CRNYHS, the idea of college would not even exist for me. Cristo Rey has not only given me access to college, it’s given me the right tools to get into some of the best schools.

What is the most important reward you expect to gain from Cristo Rey? Cristo Rey has transformed me into a young adult. Everything about me has matured from the way I think, to the way I speak. I know that through my time here, I will become a well-rounded professional in the future and will always think back to the tools CRNYHS has given me.

Message from Cristo Rey Leadership

jlf_1815-copyDear Friends,

The theme for National Catholic Schools Week 2017, which officially began yesterday, is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” This annual celebration provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on the many people whose efforts combine in the Catholic mission of the 32 Cristo Rey Network schools. We are grateful to the bishops who welcome and champion our schools in their dioceses. We celebrate our remarkable partnership with the 38 Religious Sponsors and Endorsers whose charisms shape and help ensure the Catholicity of our schools. We recognize the gifted teachers who engage our students in four years of rigorous religious studies coursework and the creative campus ministers and student affairs staff who ensure opportunities both for liturgy, prayer and reflection and for community engagement, advocacy and service. The distinctive Catholic identity of our schools, however, extends far beyond religious studies classrooms and service activities. It is reflected in our focus on the underserved, our embrace of students of all faiths, and our strong community connections. It animates our bedrock belief in the God-given dignity and potential of every student and in education in the classroom and the workplace as the route to unleashing their talents. It encourages our students, our school leadership, faculty and our staff to explore unapologetically the meaning of religion, faith and spirituality in their lives and challenges them to live their lives in service to others and the common good. This is the dynamic Catholic culture that permeates our schools and we are indebted to every member of the Cristo Rey family for its creation, development and flourishing.

Ever onward,

Jane E. Genster

Religious Sponsor Reflections: Sr. Maria Delaney, SNDdeN

snddenThe Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur exist to provide outreach to people who have limited resources. We are part of a legion of women and men religious who carry out Jesus’ ministry to those who are the most vulnerable, primarily through education. For 213 years, we have moved forward through challenges ranging from, but not limited to, the rejection of local clergy, world and civil wars, immigrant suppression and misogyny “to proclaim through our lives that God is indeed Good.” Our Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts rests on the foundation and continues the tradition of our high school that opened in 1859 for the daughters of immigrant families working in the local mills.

Now, amid a largely Hispanic population of students, we are optimistically focused knowing that we touch the lives of our Cristo Rey students in a manner that sparks their inner energy to propel them forward to become thoughtful adults, capable of making responsible choices in every avenue of their lives, (family, society, religious, civic) for the common good. We are grateful for the Cristo Rey Network that allows us to maximize our outreach and lift our students onto a larger national playing field.

 

Sr. Maria Delaney SNDdeN
Co-Director, US Office of Sponsored Ministries, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

Student Voices: DeMarco Randall

DeMarco Randall is a senior at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver. His piece on school choice originally appeared in The Complete Colorado.

January 22-28, 2017 is National School Choice Week, which means it’s time to once again celebrate the power of educational choice. This week is a celebration of more than an interesting theory or idea. It’s about making a difference in thousands of students’ lives every day. I should know; I am one of those students.

NSCW LogoThere are four nonprofit organizations in Colorado that take donations to provide scholarships to private K-12 schools for children from low-income families. These four organizations are ACE Scholarships, Seeds of Hope, Challenge Foundation, and Parents Challenge. The scholarships provided by these organizations have positively impacted my life and the lives of many others. But a lack of funding means there are still children like me who are not given the same opportunity.

I thankfully received a scholarship from ACE when I was in middle school. I was too young in sixth grade to fully understand what school choice meant for me. Now, as a senior at Arrupe Jesuit High School, I know just how essential that scholarship was to my future.

I grew up in a low-income family for whom private school seemed out of reach. I attended public elementary school. Going to a public middle school would have been the easy next step, but sometimes the easy way isn’t always the best way. My mom was determined to give me the best education possible. She made many sacrifices and reached out to organizations like ACE for help.

Those efforts paid off. With a scholarship, I attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy in Denver. There, I was embraced and welcomed into a loving and caring community focused on preparing me for high school.

St. Rose gave me the opportunity to grow both academically and spiritually. The school laid down the foundation of a Catholic education, and I loved every bit of it! My desire to continue with Catholic education made school choice an essential part of choosing a high school. With my ACE scholarship, I was able to attend Arrupe Jesuit High School, a private Catholic high school serving low-income students.

Arrupe Jesuit’s Corporate Work Study Program has opened so many doors for me. Because all Arrupe Jesuit students come from low-income families that cannot pay full tuition, the school needs a way to cover costs. Thus, each student spends five full days a month at a real job—a job that provides the money required to cover 65% of our tuition. These jobs can be with a variety of organizations. Right now, I am working for 9News. Over the course of my high school career, I’ve also worked for a public policy think tank, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s corporate office, DaVita, and a local law firm.

While working in the Corporate Work Study Program, I have developed important office skills, helped with research, improved my writing skills, and made guest appearances in videos about school choice. In each of these positions I have been treated as a colleague and an adult, which has allowed me to communicate with adults in the business world, build confidence, and create connections.

Along with acquiring new skills, I was able to see how these organizations function from the inside. I saw all the hard work that goes into making a company or nonprofit great. I saw that people working in these places cared about the success of the organizations and about each other. I also learned the value of teamwork.

The excellent academic program at Arrupe Jesuit has resulted in my acceptance to all eight colleges to which I applied. After I graduate in May of 2017, I will attend college and pursue a journalism or communications degree along with a business degree. Looking back, I realize it would not have been possible to attend St. Rose or Arrupe Jesuit without financial help. I believe that school choice—and the financial aid it enabled me to access it—has indelibly and positively impacted my life. Without the opportunities I’ve had, I would not be in the same position I am in today.

I hope one day to see a real change, a change that gives every student an equal opportunity to succeed regardless of financial status by opening the door to a high-quality education. School choice changed my life. I know that if each student is able to go to the school of their choice, their lives could also be changed.

Message from Cristo Rey Leadership

jlf_1815-copyThis week the country celebrates National School Choice Week with the goal of “shining a spotlight on effective education options for every child” (National School Choice Week, 2017).  School choice funding substantially supports expanded educational options, especially faith-based options, for students and families. The Cristo Rey Network appreciates the meaningful financial support that school choice funding provides nearly a third of our schools. In school year 2015-2016, for example, nine Cristo Rey schools received $9.89 million in total revenue from school choice programs. San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona obtained $2.26 million from the state’s voucher and education tax credit programs, and the three Cristo Rey Network schools in Ohio collectively received $3.68 million from state funded private school vouchers. School growth planning recognizes the value of that additional revenue stream to the financial strength of future schools. While the revenue that our schools receive from our innovative Corporate Work Study Program is unquestionably the lynchpin of our overall financial sustainability, and while the Cristo Rey Network has demonstrated great success at both the local and national levels in attracting and sustaining generous philanthropic support, funding through more and expanded choice programs is a welcome supplement that could figure prominently in our ability to serve more students in more locales.