Paul Beck, Macquarie Group Senior Managing Director, has been committed to the success of Cristo Rey Jesuit since meeting with former Cristo Rey Jesuit (CRJ) board member Cathy Garcia-Prats 11 years ago. Garcia-Prats introduced him to the concept of building a school for students with limited financial means who could work one day a week at Houston corporations. “She also introduced me to Father TJ Martinez, SJ, who we lovingly referred to as the ‘Energizer Bunny’ because he had so much energy; so, when Cathy said Fr. Martinez was spearheading the endeavor, I was committed.” Once Beck presented the facts and figures about the low percentage of students with limited financial means who graduate from high school and attend college, Macquarie agreed to employ students in hopes of increasing the percentage of Houston’s college-bound students.
Beck’s commitment was so strong that he soon found himself volunteering to be the first co-chair of CRJ’s gala, along with his wife, Carol Beck, and their good friends Penny and Drew Grams. The event was set in the Enterprise Jet Center where party-goers were surrounded by private jets and were surprised by a flash mob dance routine. The gala, Defying Gravity, was a phenomenal success, raising $1.8 million to support Cristo Rey Jesuit. The gala has since been held every other year for the past 10 years and continues to be a major citywide event.
Ignacia Soria, who supervises CRJ students at Macquarie Group, said the students work with several teams and businesses, gaining knowledge with everything from the trade floor to information technology. “Our student workers benefit from working here because they are exposed to a different environment and learn new skills and professionalism. Our staff benefits because the students take on some of their administrative tasks, which creates more capacity for our employees. I enjoy working with the students directly. I realize the importance of helping them understand what they are doing and learning new skills. It’s good management experience for me too.
“It’s rewarding to see the students blossom while they are here, and then to watch them graduate and go on to college,” Soria continued. “We had one student who was so quiet and shy initially, but two years later, during her Project CEO presentation to our leadership team, she had become so confident. I hope to continue to be a mentor to the students because it’s so fulfilling and I enjoy watching them grow through this journey.”
As Cristo Rey Jesuit moves into our second decade of forming Men and Women for Others, CRJ’s Corporate Work-Study Program is evidently mutually beneficial to students and the Macquarie Group with three CRJ alums currently work at Macquarie Group.
“It’s gratifying to see how much Macquarie supports the students,” Beck said. “Macquarie supports a lot of causes, but Cristo Rey Jesuit is close to my heart.”