Student Voices: Twoneisha Burns

dpcr-women-in-medTwoneisha Burns is a freshman at DePaul Cristo Rey High School in Cincinnati. In late January she joined 31 other female students for a “Women in Medicine” program hosted by The Christ Hospital’s Women in Medicine group of female physicians. The hands-on field trip served to educate the students about the medical field and encourage them to consider health care careers.

The DePaul Cristo Rey students and staff went to The Christ Hospital to experience different jobs and techniques in the medical field. The first session was a family medicine session, the second was orthopedic surgery, the third was obstetrics and gynecology, the fourth was surgical oncology, the fifth and final one was anesthesiology. It was a special trip and was even more special because female doctors inspired us by telling their life stories and sharing the mistakes they have made. They told us how they have learned from their mistakes to get where they are right now in life, even though it was not easy. They all said to work really hard for what we want in life, never give up, learn from our mistakes, breathe, and don’t get too caught up in the future that we let the present pass us by because right now is an important part of our journey of growing up. They also said never let a man make you feel that you need him to make it, or you can’t do it since you’re a woman, because we women can do it all as well as men can. They said our secret weapon is that women have better communication skills than men.

On this field trip I met some of the amazing people God has created,dpcr-women-in-med-2 and I learned new things I didn’t know. The Christ Hospital program opened my eyes to see that I can no longer live in the past or future. I have to live in the present and move forward with positivity. Dr. Elizabeth Ruchhoft told us not to be afraid of going to college or of the amount of years we would have to be in college for the degrees we want in the medical field. I took that in because I have always wanted to be a prosecutor so I can help everyone.  I also want to help adults and children in another way so have considered becoming an obstetrician/gynecologist. I told myself years ago that I will get degrees in law and medicine, then I became scared that I’m not smart enough and that I would not be able to endure. Dr. Ruchhoft helped me realize that I have to pursue my dream to always help others. She said, “You can and will do it; don’t make the same mistakes we all did by not believing in yourself. Just say you can achieve and have a lot of faith!’’ That really touched my heart and I know we have to believe and we will achieve.


Message from Cristo Rey Leadership: Lauralyn Lee

lauralyn-leeLauralyn Lee is Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School’s (Washington, DC) new board chair, beginning her tenure in fall 2016. She has served as a member of the Board of Directors since 2012. She is a Higher Education Consultant and Senior Advisor to the President at Georgetown University.

What drew you to the work of Don Bosco Cristo Rey?

The Catholic mission – I am a strong believer in values-based education – and the unique Corporate Work Study Program component. The CWSP not only benefits the school financially, but it gives the students exposure to a world outside both their academic and neighborhood communities. Learning how to shake hands, look people in the eye, look comfortable even if you are not. These are skills you learn by experience and exposure. Our students enroll and persist in high school and in college at much greater rates than students from similar backgrounds, proving that an education at Don Bosco works.

As the new Board Chair, what do you hope for in the next decade for Don Bosco Cristo Rey?

Don Bosco Cristo Rey is at an important stage of its development. During its “startup” first decade, Don Bosco developed a very strong foundation. The school has an exceptionally strong and generous group of supporters, very constructive support from the Archdiocese of Washington and the national Cristo Rey Network, a family-like community of faculty, staff, alums, students and families, and powerful leadership. I hope to assist Fr. Mike Conway in building the infrastructure to support future growth and longterm sustainability.

How do you respond to change and transition?

Change is an opportunity; people are more willing to explore doing things in partially or wholly new ways. I have great confidence in the future of Don Bosco Cristo Rey and look forward to working with Fr. Mike as we transition the school into its second decade.

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