Many students look forward to a break during summer. For 21 current CRJ students, summer break marked the start of a month-long training program to prepare them to become Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA). Through partnerships with Froedtert Health and St. Camillus, the students began accumulating study hours and shadow experiences that would lead to beginning clinicals later in the summer. All this hard work will pay off on August 28th when the students will begin working as CNAs as their Corporate Work Study placement.

Vice President of the Corporate Work Study Program Everette Fernandes said, “The world of work is changing in the post COVID era. Our goal is to create opportunities for students in this new work environment. The CNA program is the latest example in our response to identifying where the school can fill a void with qualified and trained Cristo Rey Jesuit students that have a desire to align their interests with career pathways and future college and professional choices.”

The students are also excited about the opportunity to develop experience in a medical career while still in high school:

  • Rising senior Becky said, "The CNA program helped me gain experience in a field I intend to pursue a career within. I have a strong desire to help people, and the skills I learn as a CNA can be applied to different areas as well."
  • Rising senior Autumn shared, "I have wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl. This program was a wonderful experience that confirmed nursing is the field I want to go in to."
  • Rising junior Carmen added, "My goal is to become an obstetrician. Through this program, I learned how to provide high-quality care to patients, gained new knowledge and skills and helped me start early in the medical field. "

The feedback from our partners has been positive as well! St. Camillus noted that their Cristo Rey Jesuit students "could easily compete with college-level candidates." Thank you to Froedtert Health and St. Camillus for helping build employment opportunities for Trailblazing students through the Corporate Work Study Program.


The Class of 2027 recently completed the Summer Bridge program.

In the Cristo Rey Network, the Cristo Rey handshake is among our founder’s lore since the first Cristo Rey school opened in Chicago in 1996. The successful handshake as part of creating a positive first impression was part of the Corporate Work Study Program Summer Bridge curriculum for incoming freshmen at every Cristo Rey school. In the summer of 2015, when we welcomed our first freshmen in Milwaukee for Summer Bridge, I can remember shaking so many hands so many times that my hand was tired and a little sore by the end of the four weeks! One thing was for sure - students learned a really good handshake and first impression skills through Summer Bridge. For a time during COVID, we had to drop this practice out of precaution, and we wondered if the Cristo Rey handshake would ever fully return. I visited our Summer Bridge program last week for our class on creating first impressions and am happy to say that our newest students are really working at this skill.

So what makes a good first impression? Students had to remember a firm, but not too tight and not too loose, grip. None of those dead fish handshakes! Then, after hands were clasped, just moving up and down in sync a couple of times was sufficient. They had to be sure to say hello, their name, that they were a student at Cristo Rey, and include something they enjoyed doing in their free time. And eye contact…remember to maintain eye contact. Then, they had to listen as the other person comparably introduced themselves. Easy enough, right? This is a skill I have seen many adults struggle with. The incoming freshman found out that this definitely took some practice. 

One student walked up to the facilitator, as his friends looked on, and just as he reached out to shake the adult’s hand, the student froze and a blank look suddenly appeared on the student’s face. He said, “Wait…can I start over?” and everyone had a good chuckle as he walked back to his starting position. I walked to another group and the facilitator said, “Who would like to greet the president?” Not one of the eight students raised their hands, so a brave soul was chosen. The student, who had sweaty palms and was obviously anxious, walked up to me cautiously, clasped my hand, and introduced herself to me. After our exchange, I thanked her and gave her feedback. She did a nice job on the handshake, but needed more eye contact while she was introducing herself. The last group I visited, I actually had a student volunteer step up to introduce himself to me. This student stepped up confidently, had a good handshake, and maintained eye contact as he told me about himself. I even asked a follow up question of the student, and he was very poised and appropriate in his answer. I thought to myself that this student was a quick learner and was going to be an all-star worker in four years!

On Friday, July 14, our Summer Bridge program for our incoming freshmen concluded. The four week program engaged students in corporate work study, language arts, and mathematics preparation for the coming school year. When students enroll in Cristo Rey Jesuit, our goal in our mission statement is to prepare students for college and life. When students learn how to make a positive first impression with a solid handshake and confident greeting, we know we are doing both.


Congratulations to CRJ alumna Deisy España ‘20, who was awarded the Philanthropic Youth Award by the United Way. España is currently attending MATC and is looking to pursue a career in politics. She also works in her community as an organizer and activist looking to move young and Latinx people to become more involved. España said, “My activism has allowed me to establish good relationships with many organizations, community leaders, and working-class residents on the south side. My goal is to run for office one day and represent my community in places where there are not many voices like ours.”

“Deisy has made a significant impact on local organizations and is recognized as a leader in Milwaukee and Waukesha's nonprofit community,” said Alejandra Anastas, Program Manager at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee. Anastas nominated España for the award.

At Cristo Rey, we were taught how to be men and women for others and that’s the first thing I think about when it comes to my work,” said España. “How can I be a woman for others through campaigns, volunteer opportunities, and much more. I also can’t forget about the teachers and staff who I was so lucky to have and who supported and mentored me every step of the way. As a low-income, first-generation college student, I am dedicating my work and accomplishments to those who have mentored, inspired, and offered their unconditional love and support.”


Presiding Judge M. Joe Donald

Appellate Judge, Court of Appeals–District I

Donald serves as a commissioner for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee and as a member of the Urban Day School Board. He is a former member of the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership Council; the Governor’s Task Force to Enhance Probation and Parole; and the Judicial Selection Committee. He also served on the Marquette Law School Alumni Board, the Mother of Good Counsel Endowment Board, and he served on the boards of Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee School of Art & Design and Harambee Community School.

I heard about the amazing things happening at Cristo Rey from various perspectives within the community,” Donald said. “When I reflect on my own educational experience and compare that to what is happening at Cristo Rey now, I see many similarities, as well as opportunities for success, not only in college, but in life. It’s a remarkable story, and because of that, I wanted to play a small part in making sure it will continue to be told.”

Jay Mack

President & CEO, Town Bank

Jay Mack is the president & CEO of Town Bank and has been with the bank since its inception in 1998. After receiving his undergraduate and MBA degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Jay began his career at PNC Bank. He later became a commercial banking officer at M&I Bank and then executive vice president of Johnson Bank before assisting in the startup of Town Bank. He volunteers on many community organizations including serving as treasurer of the Greater Delafield Community Fund and director of the Waukesha County Center for Growth.

“As a Catholic/Christian business professional, serving on the Cristo Rey board aligns with my core values and responsibility to be a servant leader so I am excited about the opportunity,” said Mack. “As I’ve gotten to know many of the Cristo Rey students, faculty and leadership team, I’m exceedingly impressed by the good works the school is doing to position students for future success in life. It starts with academic excellence but also includes real world work experience and spiritual development as being equally important. I find this to be very compelling.”

Mark Toth

Chief Legal & Public Affairs Officer, ManpowerGroup, North America

Mark Toth has served as ManpowerGroup North America's Chief Legal Officer since 2000. He also serves on the company’s North American Leadership Team. In addition to Legal, Mark oversees Public Affairs, Compliance, Risk Management and Real Estate. Mark is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School and has completed executive programs at Harvard Business School and the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

"I love the cura personalis – care for the whole person – approach," said Toth. "Providing students of limited financial means with an excellent education that is grounded in faith, expressed in community service and enriched with a real-life work study program is truly something special. How could you not be impressed with a school where ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the graduates get accepted to college with millions of dollars in scholarships every year – WOW!"


Milwaukee Stars Merengue

Saturday, November 4, 2023 | Kohl's Innovation Center

W165N5830 Ridgewood Dr, Menomonee Falls, WI 53051

Don’t miss this opportunity to see Milwaukee celebrities take the stage with a professional dance partner to entertain and raise funds to benefit Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s rigorous academics, innovative Corporate Work Study Program and faith formation.


Is your business interested in partnering with our work study program?

We would like to speak with you about how your business or organization can partner with our Corporate Work Study Program! Contact Everette Fernandes at 414.436.4600 Ext. 3141 or

Partner With Us

Make a difference in the lives of CRJ Trailblazers!

The generous support of Cristo Rey Jesuit donors like you makes it possible for us to offer a Catholic, college-prep education combined with unique professional work experience to young women and men of all faiths and limited financial means.

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