Posted June 11, 2020
“He who goes about to reform the world must begin with himself, or he loses his labor.” ― St. Ignatius of Loyola
From the very first day of school at Cristo Rey Jesuit (CRJ), students learn the future is in their hands. Equipped with exemplary staff, CRJ students prove time and time again that they have the drive to succeed and CRJ can illuminate the path. Rigorous college-prep academics, personal faith formation, and meaningful real-life work experiences create the perfect support system.
Victoria Rios (pictured), CRJ alumna class of 2019 shared, “Choosing to attend CRJ has been the best decision I’ve ever made. Cristo Rey helped me become the person that I am today. The teachers and staff were all so welcoming, encouraging, and loving towards the students since day one. I was able to build a connection with others and grow in a way that I felt safe and comfortable. The teachers and administration believed in my abilities as a student, as an athlete, and as a whole person. The focus on cura personalis is something that I really admired about Cristo Rey. They didn’t only care about academics, they wanted the students to become well-rounded individuals.
I was able to grow in my leadership skills through different opportunities CRJ offered. This included establishing clubs, growing sports teams, and participating in summer college programs. I was lucky enough to participate in programs through the Catholic University of America, Ripon College, and Carroll University. These are just some of the ways that I was able to go out and explore. I was able to gain new experiences and grow in my communication and leadership abilities. Through the Marquette partnership with CRJ, Encuentros mentorship program, I was provided additional guidance before graduating. I feel like this mentorship program, although it’s still developing, was helpful to me as a first-generation college student. Now, it’s preparing me to be that same college mentor for future Cristo Rey graduates.”
Not only is Victoria a first-generation college student, she is also a member of the founding class – the first class to ever graduate from CRJ. Victoria shared what it meant to be a part of the inaugural class, noting, “Being part of the first graduating class is so rare, and I have had the honor to share the experience with such an amazing group of people. Throughout the years, our founding class did get smaller, but our connection to one another is unlike any other high school. Throughout many spiritual retreats, we were able to build really deep connections that we still hold dear to us today. Our CRJ experience is what makes our connection special. The fact that we were all guinea pig, having a completely different high school experience than other Milwaukee High Schools, made us feel unique. It feels like a great accomplishment to have been part of a new program established to help future first-generation college students find their way.
I personally feel very proud of the accomplishments we made as a class; building the CRJ name and our personal brands. I am proud of my own personal accomplishments throughout high school that proved my progress. Being part of the first graduating class meant that I was part of the first-ever Cristo Rey Milwaukee’s sports teams, first-ever choir, forever the upperclassmen, and I was the first-ever prom queen of CRJ Milwaukee! It’s literally so exciting just being able to say you were there for the “first-evers” at Cristo Rey. The community that CRJ provided allowed me to thrive academically and socially.
Because of my high school accomplishments, I am able to pursue higher education and make my parents and relatives proud, setting an example for my brother and cousins. I am able to fulfill my parent’s wishes through their sacrifices and CRJ’s opportunities in order to be a leader and a scholar. My parents were beyond proud of me for making the decision of attending Cristo Rey for a better future. I’ve made my parents and grandparents proud through my hard work and dedication to school, as I am able to pursue something they were deprived of. My parents always showed their support for me throughout my academics, sports, performances, and more. It’s something I’ll be forever grateful for, and I’m so glad to have made them proud.”
Victoria did indeed make her parents and the entire Cristo Rey Jesuit family proud. Whether she understood the gravity of her decision to attend a new school at the time or not, she paves the way for many students to follow her example and lead lives of purpose.
Donate today and support current and future Cristo Rey Jesuit students so they can have the same experience and opportunities as Victoria.