Corporate Work-Study Program Provides a Lifetime of Benefits
Graduating from Cristo Rey Jesuit (CRJ) with four years of work experience through the school’s Corporate Work-Study Program (CWSP) is the gift that keeps on giving. CWSP partners will often re-hire former CRJ students during or after their college careers. Valeria Cruz, CRJ Class of 2015 graduate (pictured at right), is an example of just that. She was recently hired back at her CWSP company, Latham & Watkins LLP, one of the school’s 170 corporate partners, while still in college.
Cruz, who worked at Latham during her freshman year at CRJ, was hired as an Attorney Support Assistant, where she will gain in-depth work experience and knowledge in her quest to eventually obtain a law degree and become a lawyer.
While working full-time, Cruz also attends the University of Houston, working toward a degree in Business Administration, with a minor in Pre-Law.
“I always knew I wanted to be in the legal field,” Cruz said. “After being exposed to corporate America at age 14 through Cristo Rey Jesuit’s Corporate Work-Study Program, I knew I wanted to be part of the corporate world and make a difference. I am so fortunate that my parents enrolled me into Cristo Rey Jesuit.”
At Latham, CRJ students work in several departments, from recruiting to accounting to human resources, enhancing their skill sets. Initially, students are on-boarded by supervisors Kathryn Brooks, Sandra Shaw, and Emily Koseluk.
Michael Dillard, Latham partner and CRJ Board of Trustees member, has been invested in the mission of CRJ and the betterment of its students since the school first opened to 82 students in 2009. Over the past decade, student enrollment has risen to 540, and every graduate has been accepted to college.
“Cristo Rey Jesuit does a great job preparing the students to work in the corporate world — to pay attention to details and to be enthusiastic. As corporate partners, we are changing the students’ mind-set, changing the norm, changing the expectations,” Dillard said. “We understand the positive impact the Corporate Work-Study Program has on families. The program expands the possibilities and helps students realize that dreams can become reality.
“Cristo Rey Jesuit students become like our own kids, especially the seniors,” Dillard continued. “We all try to give them advice about going to college and mentor them about their long-term goals.”
For Latham, hiring former CRJ students is mutually beneficial. “We gain someone who is already familiar with our company culture while we help support them through college, so they are not left with overwhelming debt,” said Tim Fenn, Houston Office Managing Partner. “Hiring the students is a continuation of our relationship. We can still be involved in the students’ lives and provide opportunities.”
“Hiring Valeria continues to ensure her success,” said Kerri Mesiah, Latham’s Director of Administration Houston. “She is now a role model for other Cristo Rey Jesuit students. We became a Corporate Work-Study Program partner because we wanted to give back to the community, but every year we feel more enriched. The students become the fabric of our firm.”