From serving on the leadership team and the board of directors to teaching, navigating student jobs, and mentoring scholarship recipients, to leading retreats for campus ministry, nine CRSM alums have a special connection to the school as the 2022-23 school year kicks off.
“CRSM is a place of community, family and great expectations,” says Viridiana Fajardo, the recently appointed Operations & Finance Director who is the first alumna in the Cristo Rey Network of 38 schools to serve on a school’s leadership team. “To be able to be part of that, on the other side of the desk is exciting.” Viridiana is a graduate of the Class of ’10 and has worked at CRSM as the Admissions and Administration Coordinator since 2015.
Her words are representative of the sentiments of all the alumni who have returned to their CRSM alma mater to make a difference. They all agree the time they spent in high school helped shape them into the persons they are today.
Coming full circle, Iris Sanchez, 22, joined CRSM last spring as a campus minister and says she is committed to helping students who are struggling right now by being that person they can come to. In her new role, she will help lead retreats, teach theology, and work side-by-side with students volunteering to make a difference in the lives of the Waukegan area community.
Iris, a Class of ’18 CRSM graduate from North Chicago, earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2021 from Roosevelt University, and hopes one day to help local families as an immigration lawyer and/or advocate. She believes her experiences here, both as student and now as spiritual guide, will be pivotal in helping her truly help area families. “I feel like we are like EMT’s responding and reaching out to meet the needs of our neighbors in the community,” says Iris. “I’m so excited to be back here.”
Brisel Jimènez, says she is passionate about working with students at CRSM whom she feels a strong connection to. As a work-student development manager for our Corporate Work Study Program, the Class of ’15 graduate says her goal is to help students persevere no matter what challenges they face. She graduated from University of Illinois Chicago with an economics degree and is currently studying for her master’s at De Paul University.
“I want to make a difference in this community and connect with students as they build their networks, says Brisel. “Each student eventually becomes a self-advocate for what they are passionate about, I’m just here to facilitate the onboarding process of a new job for them. It’s amazing to see how they flourish into a professional in the workplace.”
Anthony Ochoa, 23, a scholar coach with the Schuler Scholar program, and Class of ’17 grad, says, “The Cristo Rey community had a huge impact on me, developing a love of learning, and my experience in college, and I want to give back to my community and help other students find a path they are passionate about. He graduated with a double major in philosophy and psychology from Bates College.
Also, on board at CRSM are Edwin Medina, accountant in the CRSM business department and Class of ’11 grad, Giselle Baca, CWSP Relationship Manager and Class of ’16 graduate, Darline Alonso, science teacher from the Class of ‘08, and Daniel Arizmendi, Class of ’19 who is working part-time as an intern for the work-study program while he is attending college.
Like so many of the alums, Esmeralda “Esme” Silva is hoping to set an example for kids in the district. Since her freshman year at Cristo Rey St. Martin 16 years ago, Esme has been determined to be of service to others. Dedicated to paying her life forward and amplify the voices of victims of violence, the 30-year-old works to end human trafficking in several Wisconsin counties. A Class of ’10 grad, she also is the first CRSM alumna to be named to the Board of Trustees.
“I am extremely honored to be seated at the table with leaders who will make such a difference in the lives of students like I once was.”