Partner Spotlight – Wells Fargo and CRJ: A Decade of Changing Lives Together

Cristo Rey Jesuit (CRJ) has accomplished a decade of miracles since refurbishing a dilapidated, abandoned building and opening its doors in 2009 to 82 students, 17 faculty and staff members, and 19 Corporate Work-Study Program partners. Today, Cristo Rey Jesuit educates 540 men and women with nearly 100 staff and faculty members, and collaborates with more than 170 Corporate Work-Study Program (CWSP) partners.  One of CRJ’s 19 founding partners, Wells Fargo, believed in the school’s unique, innovative educational model and has remained a corporate work-study partner the past 10 years, mentoring students and providing real-world job experience to CRJ students.  Please find photos of one of our students on his first day of work at Wells Fargo. 

Wells Fargo Family

Ten years ago, Wells Fargo’s current Head of Commercial Banking, Kyle Hranicky, responded to the call from CRJ Founding Board Member John O’Shea to get involved with CRJ’s unique corporate work-study program. After finding out more about the incredible opportunity to make a difference, Hranicky knew the mission of Cristo Rey Jesuit would align with the Wells Fargo mission. Reflecting on the students who have worked at Wells Fargo the past 10 years, Hranicky stated that it has been amazing to see how the students have impacted their employees. “We understand the value in helping young people see what it’s like to work in a professional environment; to see what they could potentially do with their lives,” Hranicky said. “I like the idea of a corporate work-study program. We have seen it make a big difference for both the students and our staff. We’ve watched the freshmen grow up and succeed.  The biggest benefit to Wells Fargo employees is helping these kids and knowing that we are doing something positive for our community.”

Veronica Shepherd, Hranicky’s Executive Assistant, was instrumental in establishing the program at Wells Fargo. Ten years ago, through the guidance of CRJ’s Founding President, Father TJ Martinez, SJ, Shepherd worked to establish a meaningful experience for students.  She has continued to improve the program to keep the students engaged and growing. “I love these kids, and we get so much out of helping students and supporting them as they develop their professional skills. First thing I do when the students start working here is have them write a biography so we can learn about each student. I also check their grades throughout the year. I encourage them to go to college and help the seniors write good essays for their college applications, work on their public speaking skills, teach them how to summarize for presentations, and get them trained on using certain software programs.  They are our future.

“We have tons of success stories as a result of the Corporate Work-Study Program,” Shepherd continued. One of their most recent success stories is Diana Sierra, a 2016 CRJ graduate who worked at Wells Fargo for two years, and is currently enrolled in the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. Sierra, (pictured in CRJ graduation gown) who is expected to graduate from UH in 2020 with a degree in finance and a minor in accounting, recently spent the summer working as an intern in the Financial Analyst Training Program at Wells Fargo.

“Diana saw how we cared and she really seemed to like finance; so, she applied for the internship and did a great job,” Shepherd said.  “We hope she comes back after she graduates from UH and applies for our analyst training program.”

Sierra said she would jump at the opportunity to start her professional career at Wells Fargo after graduating from UH. “My work experience at Wells Fargo helped me understand real-life work scenarios, and how important time management is,” Sierra said. “I also learned how essential it is to network and establish new relationships because whomever you meet, you might cross paths in the future. I learned to get out of my comfort zone while also learning about my career path and where I want to go in the future,” Sierra said.

“If I had anything to say to CRJ students, it would be to stress how important it is to work hard to accomplish your dreams; to have an ambitious mindset to accomplish all your goals and never give up. I could’ve easily given up in high school, but I didn’t want to settle; I am striving for greatness.” Sierra’s future plans include immediately going back to school to get her masters.

Today, Cristo Rey Jesuit can boast that every graduate in each of its six graduating classes has been accepted to college. Cristo Rey Jesuit has come so far in 10 years, just image the potential of the next 10 years!