On October 13, 2011, CtK Prep hosted its annual President's Gala. Our friends at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey were this year's recipient of this year's President's Award. As one of our forty students who have interned at HBCBSNJ, Junior, Manuela Yeboah was chosen to share her thoughts about her experience at HBCBSNJ and CtK Prep. Here are her remarks from that evening.
Imagine a 14 year old freshman working in the leading health insurance service corporation in the state. How weird does that sound? Well, my name is Manuela Yeboah and I was that 14 year old freshman. Horizon BCBSNJ’s goal since 1932 is to provide individuals and employers in New Jersey with convenient access to quality health care. But Horizon is in the process of achieving another goal. That goal is opening the door for youth like myself, to have a glimpse of the real world. With the collaboration of Horizon BCBS and Christ the king, we students are allowed to walk through that door. We learn the importance of growth and maturity. Being able to walk the blue halls of this corporation allows us not only to work in confidence but to definitely have an eye for the future.
When I worked at Horizon freshman year, I came in on Tuesdays, sat at a desk, imaged claims, made copies of documents, sorted things out, spoke with my Mentor Rhonda Robinson, and cracked some jokes with my co-worker Ms. Harriet. I already felt like I was a part of the Horizon family. I already felt the love that was circulating the building. Horizon not only cares about the people they serve but they also care about those who are as close as a desk away from them.
Being able to walk into a work setting is beyond intriguing. Seeing different men and women on their cell phones, running for meetings and drinking coffee is exciting and inviting. I saw that every Tuesday I walked into Horizon. Not only did that give me hope but I saw a new light that shined for me as a student and as a future worker in America’s society.
I came to CTK with a broken spirit, low confidence, and no office skills whatsoever. All I kept seeing and hearing was “LIVE THE GOOD” and I never realized what that theme meant. Because of CTK’s caring staff of teachers and administrators, I learned to love myself and realized all of the many things I am capable of. I started growing in RESPECT, Creativity, Joy, Justice, Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Service, Serenity, Integrity and Hope which are the 11 values within the “LIVE THE GOOD” theme. CTK did for me what has never been done for me before which is open my mind to the things beyond my boundaries and made me realize that there is more out there in the world than violence, sadness and disappointment.
Sophomore year I worked at First Care Medical Group with Dr. Ambrosio. Every week I saw different patients and learned more about the medical world. I don’t know what I want to be in the future but I’m leaning toward a career in the Medical field. CTK teaches students how to respond to those in need, and because of that zeal CTK holds in Service, I would like to take that mission up as well.
I am now a junior in Christ the King and I currently work at Berkeley College. Because Horizon BCBS was my first job, I have a foundation for my future with the “work-life” in CTK. Horizon is where I started my process of growing with integrity, excellence, and confidence in the work field. How many high school students get the opportunity to work in one of the leading health insurance companies in the state?
Next year I will be a senior in CTK. I have no idea what God has planned for me but MY goal is to do well on my ACTs, get accepted to a great college, and grow up to serve God’s people in America. Not only will I thank Horizon, but I will also give great gratitude to the president and staff of Christ the King Prep because they have given me a foundation not only for work but for my life.
Today, Horizon serves more than 3.6 million members. To be a part of that isn’t only an honor but a blessing. Not only has Horizon served the residents of NJ, but they have helped Christ the King students grow and experience the real world.
On behalf of Christ the King Prep, we would like to present this President’s award to Horizon BCBSNJ for their endless help, continuous motivation and astounding acceptance. Thank you for allowing us to have a taste of Horizon’s diverse culture.
Class of 2013
“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.” Although I had heard this quote by Elbert Hubbard several times, I never truly comprehended its meaning until this certain event: I was sitting in class my eighth grade year when I was told to report to the guidance counselor’s office. Though it was sunny outside, I left feeling dispirited and thought my future looked gloomy. While in her office, my guidance counselor looked at me and said, “You cannot compete with the other students,” and notified me I would be placed on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), a program designed for academically disadvantaged students. Despite being an eighth grade student, I realized that I had two options: accept my guidance counselor’s words and give up, or, burst out of the box in which she placed me, persevere, and find a way to go to college. I wanted to supersede her expectations and anyone who agreed with her. I wanted to do more. I wanted to have that glorious success.
At first, my path looked dismal. My brothers were involved in gang violence nobody within my family really had any interest in obtaining a college education. People from my neighborhood barely made it out of high school, and I had no positive influences or college role models to provide me guidance; thus, I was uncertain as to how to reach my glorious success. My journey took an unexpected turn, however, when I was accepted into the New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment Project (NJLEEP), a college preparatory program that uses law as a vehicle to facilitate academic enrichment. As an initial step into the program, I participated in the Summer Law Institute (SLI), where I learned the intricacies of the New Jersey criminal and civil law systems. Additionally, in the summer before high school, through the SLI program at Seton Hall Law School, I participated in mock trial competitions before sitting New Jersey judges. From this experience, I was able to gain access to a host of mentors who provided me insight into the academic and professional world, allowing me to develop confidence in my ability to overcome the challenges presented by my family and community.
While I now had access to role models, I still had great difficulty speaking in front of large groups of people, which compromised my performance during mock trial debates. Although I started off not doing as well as I had planned, and even struggled for most of my time during my first summer in SLI, I never gave up. Even when I lost my first mock trial, I remained undiscouraged, and continued to take small steps to my glorious success. I worked laboriously to have the strongest briefs and oral statements for our bi-monthly constitutional law debates, spending nights, weekends, and hours after school, to improve my written and oratory skills. After much investment of time and energy, I finally became one of the top debaters in NJLEEP, and was recognized on five occasions for my dedication, winning one award for Most Committed Participant, and four lexicon championships. Although I missed seeing my friends and spending my spare time freely, I noticed my hard work was leading me to that glorious success I sought. At NJLEEP, I was able to clear a path of accomplishment and open doors of opportunity for myself. My guidance counselor’s words, “You cannot compete with the other students,” were no longer relevant.
During the same year I began NJ LEEP, I started my freshman year at Barringer High School, one of the worst schools in an already challenged Newark, New Jersey Public School system. Although I knew that the environment at Barringer typically had a negative impact on students, I also had enough successful experiences to not allow my surroundings to affect my focus. By the end of my freshman year, I held a 3.9 GPA, however, desiring a more rigorous academic program, I applied to Christ the King Preparatory School, a college-preparatory high school well renowned for its academic austerity. My decision to apply to Christ the King was rooted in my belief that in order to achieve success, I needed to not only be challenged academically, but, I also needed to place myself in an environment that would support my ambitions. My first year at Christ the King, however, started off rocky with me failing both history and chemistry classes. Suddenly, the words of my guidance counselor began to haunt me again. I questioned myself and thought about giving up, but I knew that was not an option. Although the work was exhausting, it was a catalyst for tremendous growth. By putting myself in intellectually challenging situations, I learned how to develop greater resilience in the face of difficult academic concepts. While I started off at a deficit, I learned the significance of hard work and perseverance, and as a result, ended up with Second Honors at the end of my junior year: an award bestowed upon students with the second highest GPA.
The same eighth grader who was placed on an IEP track alongside the condemning words of my guidance counselor is now making strides at a Christ the King Prep. As a result of marrying perseverance and resilience, I was finally able to prove myself as a competitive academic. For the past four years, I have been successfully building scholastic habits and skills, laying the foundation for a successful collegiate experience. I plan to take these attributes with me when I attend Drew University this fall. I will continue to seek the academic challenges that will further my growth as I pursue my degree in international relations. By working in a rigorous environment with other ambitious students, I know I will not only obtain positive outcomes during my undergraduate studies, but I will also obtain that glorious success: doing well in college and beyond.
Class of 2011
Christ the King Prep was never part of my plans, but now that I think about it, not everything goes according to your plan.
I was sitting at my desk in Ms. Charles’ Read 180 class, when I heard the P.A. System call my name. “Carla please report to the counselor's office.” As I walked through the hallway I could feel my palms sweating and it felt as if the hallway was getting longer and longer. I got to the doorknob and I felt my hands touch the cold metal, I could feel the anxiety.
I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. I came to the United States when I was only ten years old. I enrolled in elementary school in fifth grade as a bilingual student. I never thought that learning a new language would be so difficult, but I knew it was necessary to express myself. I discovered that a lot of words were almost the same in Spanish. I started understanding when people spoke to me. My problem wasn’t understanding English—it was speaking it. Every day I stayed in an after-school program to help me with my homework, but it was still not enough. I passed fifth, sixth, and seventh grade, but speaking English was still an obstacle since all my classes were in Spanish. Soon everything got more complicated. Not only was I worrying about English, now 8th grade graduation and applications for high school were on their way.
My parents had heard from many people that the only public school near my home that I could attend without applying wasn’t one of the best schools in Newark, and that it was really dangerous. My mother was very upset as education has always been an important part of our lives. I had applied to another high school, but because of my poor English I was denied.
As I turned the doorknob I could hear this familiar voice. I walked in to see my mother sitting in a chair. She had come to talk to my counselor. I had never seen my mom cry as much as she did that day. My counselor had told my mother that there was a private, catholic school opening in Newark. She gave us all the information, so at the beginning of August we went to the Archdiocese of Newark to apply and then interview.
We received a call from Dr. Rauscher of the Cristo Rey Network. She invited my mother and me to come into the Archdiocese to talk further. When we arrived, she greeted us and then said how smart I was and how she noticed how hard I tried to speak English. Near the end of the interview, she handed me a letter and said “You better hurry up and get your uniform. Congratulations: You are part of the Cristo Rey Community.” My mother told me how proud she was and that she never doubted me. Through my experiences I have learned that everything in life is possible.
Class of 2011
In February, 2010, the Cristo Rey Network launched a new video project, "My Education, My Job, My Success," in partnership with Best Buy's @15 initiative and generous support from The Bradley Foundation.
For five months, CtK Prep student, Brandon Guevara, and Jasmine Kendrick, a student from the Detroit Cristo Rey High School in Detroit, MI, documented how they live their lives at 15, learn from their jobs and school, love their families and communities, and also become leaders in all their environments - the core foundations of the @15 campaign.
Brandon and Jasmine recorded experiences from their home, corporate work-study position, and school in relation to the themes Live, Learn, Love, and Lead. Footage was edited into short documentaries which can be viewed by clicking the link Best Buy @15 video project on the Cristo Rey Network website, www.cristoreynetwork.org.
Here is Brandon's recap of that experience:
What a great satisfaction to see myself on camera representing Christ the King Prep. It was a great honor to be able to represent my school, family, and friends. I thank all the people who helped and supported me in this video project for Best Buy.
It was a tremendous amount of fun filming my life and I even learned more things about myself that I would have not figured out on my own, had it not been for this experience. I learned how I make a difference in people's lives by leading or by showing them love. I learned that small things one does can make a big difference in one's life. I had so much fun filming at my job, school and home because these were the places where I felt most comfortable and could even consider it "a home away from home.
This video made me reflect on myself and see if I could do anything else to help change people's lives and show people that anyone can make a difference. I believe there is no age in being a leader, so why not start now and make a difference. I will never forget this experience of representing my school and being filmed because it made me feel important and with great honor and pride I'm happy to say, I'm Brandon Guevara and I am a student at Christ The King Prep.
Each year the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School presents a "Mini MedicalSchool for High School Students, Achieving Excellence in the Sciences". This program met weekly, in the evenings from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM, from February 24, 2010 thru April 28, 2010. This statewide competition had more than 700 applicants. CtK Prep Junior, Tiffany Adams, was fortunate to be one of the 150 students selected to participate.
Tiffany shares some thoughts about her experience below…
My experience at the Robert Wood Johnson Mini Medical School this spring was truly incredible. I had the opportunity to be part of a selective group of high school students to learn more in depth about the occurring events in the medical field and ongoing problems that arise everyday.
The mini medical program was located in Piscataway, New Jersey on the Rutgers-Piscataway campus. While on the campus, I blended in with all of the college students and just being there made it more real to know that I will be going away to college in a year.
All 170 of us students sat in a college lecture hall for the mini medical program. Real physicians and surgeons taught us about their careers in medicine. Some of the most interesting topics I learned about were health illiteracy, the teenage brain, and heart transplants.
This program really paved the path for me to continue to pursue my interest in medicine. This opportunity would not have been possible with out the support of my school and the NJ SEEDS Program.
In the future, when I become a doctor, I will give back to all those who helped me to achieve my goal and make this a reality. This is only the first step to many of my successes. Thank you to all who believed in me and made it possible for me to partake in this great experience.
Last month, the entire student body at Christ the King Prep participated in a financial literacy program sponsored by our friends from Junior Achievement of NJ and Capital One Bank. Once the fifteen classroom sessions were completed, students went off site to “Finance Park”. (See full story here.)
Here is CtK student, Zack Jackson’s reaction to this simulated financial institution:
I loved the Junior Achievement (J.A.) trip and I am truly thankful to have had an experience with a program such as Finance Park.
The program helped give me an understanding of what life is like as an adult and as a parent, by having me do things like pay bills, budget for needs and wants, and buy food and clothes. I was given an account card, explaining a future life situation in which I was a single person with a well paying job, which is something I would like my future to look like. Some of my classmates were given account cards stating other situations in which they would be a single parent with a low or high paying job.
I was able to learn from all of our situations. Once I was given the account card, I had to make a budget for myself. This showed me how easily all of my bills can add up, especially the small items.
If I were able to go through the J.A program again, I would, for both the wonderful program and the inspirational people that work with the program. I am especially thankful that I was able to experience the J.A program because it allowed me to get an understanding of what my mom does, both at her job and for my household. In order for me to attend a private Catholic school, I know that she had to give up some of the things that she wanted. This program helped me to appreciate all of the sacrifices that she makes in her budget to allow me to attend Christ the King Prep.
Thank you Junior Achievement and Capital One Bank.
Hello Friends of Christ the King Prep,
My overall experience here at Christ the King has been phenomenal. It has also opened my eyes to a new career. When I started three years ago, I aspired to be a nurse. During the last three years, I have been fortunate to intern at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Essex County College, and now at First Care Medical Group. From my experience at these jobs and seeing how Dr. Ambrosio treats his employees and patients, I am now interested in health care management. Three years ago, I never knew this position even existed.
This school and my supervisors have given me the opportunity to start working in the corporate world at a young age. My classmates and I know that our corporate sponsors are giving us a tremendous opportunity, not only to go to this school, but also to go to a good college. However, it is not just given to us. Because we have to work for it, we appreciate it more. If this internship program did not exist, my parents simply would not be able to afford to send me to a Catholic school. I am so thankful for this program.
I hope to change many people’s lives, just as my sponsors have done for me.
One day in the future, I would hope to have the honor of Fr. Bob asking me to speak, but not as a student, as a Corporate Sponsor.