What it’s like to be a working high school student

Cristo Rey San Jose High School is located in East San Jose and now virtually everywhere. With a student population of 459 and 93% of students being Latinx, Cristo Rey offers a unique service and social justice-oriented, rigorous college prep program. Over 90% of Cristo Rey students will be the first in their family to attend college. 

The Corporate Work Study Program at Cristo Rey has over 100 partners across Silicon Valley. Environmental Volunteers being 1 of those many that has joined Cristo Rey this school year completely virtual! Our 2021 education intern, Miguel, will be sharing a little bit about his experience with Environmental Volunteers through the Corporate Work Study program. 

Being the only child and one of the oldest cousin’s means taking care of the little ones.

All students at Cristo Rey work 5 days a month at partnered companies across Silicon Valley while also balancing their college-prep schooling. I chose Cristo Rey compared to my other options primarily because of its Corporate Work Study Program. Not a lot of high schoolers can say they work at Cisco, Kaiser, or at the Tech Interactive (Tech Museum) at 14. Cristo Rey prepares its students to enter the professional workforce and helps them find what their passion might be. Before Environmental Volunteers, I worked at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in the Human Resources department assisting with interview preparation, inventory management, and overseeing the front desk. My first year ever working in the corporate setting was definitely a new experience. I immediately had to become comfortable talking to adults and asking them for help and learn time management skills This experience has now helped me succeed working with Environmental Volunteers and the more organizations that are to come. 

A little bit about me, I am the only child of my parents who grew up in Mexico and came to San Jose in their adult years to have me, so I’m a San Jose native. In my free time I like to bake, read, and travel. I go to Mexico every summer to visit my family in Michoacan and explore different places in Mexico. Before the pandemic, I was the director of my school’s Folklorico dance group. We performed at schools, parties, fundraising events, and corporate companies. It was something we all looked forward to after school to help get our minds off things. I am also the president of the Ambassadors club and a member of the Student Leadership Society. Being involved with my school and working to improve it is something I have enjoyed doing over the years. 

My job responsibilities with Environmental Volunteers consists of social media post creation, English to Spanish translation, creating blog posts, and preparing materials for our school and community programs. All of my work has contributed to the development of environmental education curriculum and science communication with the public. The social media posts helped with marketing Environmental Volunteer’s free in-person and virtual programs to our local  community. Translating education and marketing materials assisted the EV with more inclusive offerings to our local students.  My favorite work memory has been the morning and afternoon check-ins with my supervisors, Molly and Christine. I have not been able to interact with them in-person or go into the office, so having this connection with Molly and Christine where we can talk about work and our personal lives becomes a key moment of my work day. 

What I have learned this year while working remotely is that it takes a good amount of patience and the ability to be comfortable with learning and getting used to a completely new environment, my dining table. Video calls fail, microphones break up, and computers slow down. So finding ways to go around these common problems is something that I have gotten used to. Although my contributions to Environmental Volunteers have all been indirect, I still feel like my work has helped them in some way whether it was with getting interaction using social media, educating the public about the environment with social media posts, maintaining a calendar for the EV staff and volunteers, or helping revamp class materials. I’m glad to have the experience of working with Molly and Christine and helping them with some projects as they have been amazing supervisors, always flexible and open to getting to know their intern. 

I am currently a Junior so colleges and universities are right around the corner for me. I plan on studying Social Work as it is something I have become passionate about especially while in Cristo Rey where we do a lot of advocacy work, community service, and learn about social justice. 

For the summer, I tend to travel to Mexico to visit my family. I was unable to last year because of the pandemic but now with safer measures I will have the opportunity to go again. I also recently got accepted to Georgetown’s Summer Program where I’ll be spending three weeks learning about critical college writing, experience a college class, and learning about admissions and financial aid. 

By, Miguel Ambriz Valdovinos, Environmental Education Intern

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest form of appreciation is not utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

One of the many projects Miguel completed at the EV