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Work Experience Continues Through University of St. Thomas’ Rising Stars Program

Cristo Rey Jesuit graduates attending the University of St. Thomas (UST) are given an opportunity to continue to build on their Cristo Rey Jesuit Corporate Work-Study Program work experiences and to help pay for a portion of their UST tuition through a program UST has established that mirrors Cristo Rey Jesuit’s work-study model. Two years ago, UST launched their Rising Stars internship program, which offers qualified students an opportunity to continue their education while gaining valuable work experience at Houston-area companies. The program pairs students with corporate sponsors in order to earn funds toward tuition, much like Cristo Rey Jesuit’s work-study program. The program is mutually beneficial to sponsors and the community by providing scholarship-dependent students with necessary skills and opportunities to help them succeed. 

Nearly 40 Cristo Rey Jesuit (CRJ) graduates participate in UST’s Rising Stars program, including CRJ Class of 2019 graduate Julianna Figueroa Rojas, a UST sophomore business major working toward a joint International Studies and Political Science (Pre-Law track) degree with a minor in accounting.  Although many classes and work-study projects are being conducted virtually during the pandemic, Figueroa Rojas continues to benefit from the Rising Stars program. Figueroa Rojas split her work shift around her school schedule so she could work in the accounting department at Impact Fluid Solutions, LP on Mondays and Fridays for four hours each day. “I’m working to put myself through school so tuition is not a burden to my parents,” she said. 

“I have learned so much, enhanced my soft skills, expanded my network, and met so many new people who could potentially help me in the future,” she said. “I’m grateful for this opportunity because, similar to my work-study program at Cristo Rey Jesuit, I’m gaining work experience I wouldn’t get anywhere else, and I’ve become a part of the Impact Fluid Solutions team.

“Through the Rising Stars Program I’ve been transformed into a better student and better employee,” Figueroa Rojas continued. “I’m building on what I learned at Cristo Rey Jesuit — to better manage my time and meet certain deadlines. I’ve become more sociable and less shy. I am proud to be an example for the incoming freshman and my peers.”

“The partnership between our institutions is a testament to our shared mission of developing future workforce leaders who will positively impact our community,” said Cristo Rey Jesuit President Paul Beck. “Cristo Rey Jesuit’s Corporate Work-Study Program and UST’s Rising Stars Program meld together beautifully, allowing these college students to benefit from internships with preeminent corporations and nonprofits.”

Cristo Rey Jesuit has equally impacted Figueroa Rojas’s life. “Attending Cristo Rey Jesuit has made me more of an understanding person as well as a leader. These qualities have helped me at UST and through the Rising Stars program because I’m able to form relationships with my co-workers as well as my peers at UST. My experiences in Cristo Rey Jesuit’s Corporate Work-Study Program taught me to ask clarifying questions and helped me to develop communication skills that I will need wherever I go.”

To learn more about Cristo Rey Jesuit’s Corporate Work-Study Program, please go to https://cristoreyjesuit.org/cwsp/. To learn more about UST’s Rising Stars Program, please go to https://news.stthom.edu/when-mission-aligns-with-community-need