Proud Partnership, Ignatian Service Corps

“What are your plans after graduation?” is a question all too familiar for college seniors. While some students opt to begin their career or attend a graduate program immediately after graduation, there are those who chose to participate in a post-graduation year of service and volunteer with a non-profit organization.

One of the many post-graduate programs available is Ignatian Service Corps (ISC) through Loyola Marymount University. The program seeks volunteers who through their work in marginalized communities want to create a more just society. By responding to the call of social justice, volunteers are placed in non-profits for a year of service. Community organizations like St. Margaret’s Center, Venice Family Clinic, and among others, Verbum Dei High School have partnered with ISC to foster a professional environment that nurtures growth. As a charter partner of Ignatian Service Corps, the Corporate Work Study Program is delighted to have a volunteer assist the department.

Last year, Caisen’s enthusiasm and adaptability were a breath of fresh air. Verb students gravitated towards his candid personality, contagious energy, and willingness to help. Caisen is not only a caring individual, his commitment to learn with and from the Verb students, made him admirable. We found a life-long friend in him. He is now studying at Oxford and continues to stay connected with many of us at Verb.

This year, Christiann is our volunteer. Her value and appreciation for our young men is complemented by her thirst to pursue a career in public service. Christiann takes a genuine interest in the students’ well-being, and is committed to her quest to enrich their experiences. Next school year, Christiann will attend law school. She recently got into her first choice, Georgetown Law, but has many others to choose from. We’re excited for the opportunities ahead of her and look forward to continue nurturing her thirst for social justice.

Both Caisen and Christiann had options after college graduation. They chose to work with Verbum Dei’s Corporate Work Study Program through LMU’s Ignatian Service Corps. We’re proud to a play a role in the journey of college graduates yearning to make this world a more humane and just one.

Fifteen Years Strong!

Verbum Dei’s Corporate Work Study Program is celebrating its Quinceañera this year. In the Mexican culture Quinceañeras traditionally celebrated a 15-year old young girl’s passage from childhood into adulthood while assigning her a new social role in the community. Nowadays, Quinceañeras are celebrated in a spirit of thanksgiving for God’s blessings, the young girl’s life, and her family and friends. In that spirit of gratitude, CWSP celebrates its 15th Anniversary this school year. We celebrate fifteen years of financial sustainability, building confidence in young men, and making an impact in the community.

Thanks to the financial contribution of more than 85 Corporate Partners, we are able to offer a college prep education to our students and are committed to seeing them to and through college. In addition, our partners mentor and guide the students’ skill development over their 4 year work experience. That hands-on approach at a real-work setting alongside experts allows students to grow and nurture self-confidence and maintain professional networks beyond high school. Verb men are competent individuals prepared for success in college and careers. Their success is personal. Their success is their family’s success. Their success is Verb’s success.

The Corporate Work Study Program staff is grateful for 15 years of partnerships and remains committed to the holistic education of the young men of Verb. We are looking forward to celebrating our Quinceañera!

Student Commendations

Who doesn’t like praise?

Commendations in the work place distinguish those of us who tireless work to accomplish goals and expectations from, well, those who don’t. When we receive those accolades, we are encouraged to continue going above and beyond our call of duty.

In the Corporate Work Study Program, students have been the recipients of pats on the back for a job well done for many years now. However, most recently, we’ve asked the supervisors to send us nominations for Student Intern of the Month and tell us why their student is deserving of the recognition. And…

Wow! Our Verb students are performing amazingly!

Below are just a few excerpts of the commendations recently received. Keep it up Verb Scholars!

“On top of completing his assigned tasks without question and on time, Michael Marroquin (’17) is the master of the added touch…a trait I admire most in colleagues.” (submitted by Nick Belardo at Caruso Affiliated)

Darius Williams (’16) has already exceeded my and [my colleagues’] expectations with his work ethic, attention to detail, focus and sheer volume of work.” (submitted by Rebecca Yon at Katten Muchen Rosenman)

Christian Mejia (’18) is a fast learner, ambitious, hardworking and very dependable. Not only is he a joy to work with, but I admire his amazing work ethic at such a young age.  I look forward to the days when he comes in, as I can trust he will get his job done and be a great help to our department and all of his co-workers.” (submitted by Xiomara Monterrey at Allen Lund Company)

“He is always showing such great work ethic and always eager to learn more, definitely proud of how much Christian Muñoz (’16) has grown and turned into such a reliable and responsible young man.” (submitted by Cristina Ramirez at Archer Norris)

Jesus Alvarez (’16) consistently excels in whatever assignments he is given and follows all guidelines regarding decorum, punctuality and attendance. He has lately also become a go-to person for our Technology Department. Jesus has actually been our “student of the month” every month for the last four years! We are very grateful for the opportunity to work with him.” (submitted by Frances Kipp at Latham & Watkins)

Great Place. Great Program. Great People.

Great place. Great program. Great people.

Our Verbum Dei gentlemen are starting their 4th week of internships with the Corporate Work Study Program. Can you believe that! I’m still processing that summer is almost over and the school year is in full swing.

And so, we have managed to seamlessly pull off the start of another academic year. By we, I mean Mashanda, Lizette, Jeff, Joe, Caisen and myself! And, it’s not because we’re pros at what we do, it’s because we have a phenomenal team tirelessly pouring our hearts out to ensure the multi-layered details of our program fall perfectly into place. You’d think doing so gets easier the more we do it, but the start of a new academic year brings about multiple challenges… will our partners show up to our annual job fair, too many freshmen, not enough seniors, will we have sufficient job placements, how many students can we put in a van, and the list goes on and on. Each team member tackles different aspects of this logistical monster and they do it with care, poise and confidence.

The ins-and-outs of the Corporate Work Study Program would be more challenging to undertake were it not for the A-list qualities we possess as a team – organizational expertise, student-centered decision making processes, individual personalities, passion-filled hearts, goal-oriented mentalities, go-getter attitudes, flexible temperaments, and a willingness to strive for departmental success. Sound like I’m bragging? I am. I definitely am. Verbum Dei is a great place with great people.

While we have an entire school year ahead of us, I am certain that it will be a productive one. We can finally sit back, breath and reflect on our undertakings.  No major mishaps or set-backs during the first weeks…well maybe one or two, but manageable and they actually made us chuckle!  We did great team! I am proud of you.

CWSP Supervisor Appreciation Breakfast

Over 100 of our Corporate Partner supervisors and mentors spent their Friday morning having breakfast with their team of student interns. The CWSP team hosted the 11th Annual Supervisor Appreciation Breakfast last Friday, November 14th. We were delighted to have so many of our students’ supervisors and mentors participate. Our gym was bustling with excitement as both supervisors and students enjoyed each other’s’ company.

Each year, students eagerly wait to find out whether their supervisors RVSP for this annual event. There is a great sense of pride when supervisors visit our school, our home. The norm is for our students to be transported to work one day a week, but on this day, this special day, supervisors travel to our campus to meet up with their student team. Thus, students anxiously come into our CWSP office days before the event, and with an undeniable look of curiosity, hope to get a positive response to their question, “Are my supervisors coming?”

…yes, Tylan, Western Asset will be here….yes, Julio, Ares Management will attend.

Students just can’t wait. They can’t hide their excitement when we tell them their mentor will participate or their disappointment when mentors are unable too. You see, students have formed strong relationships with their supervisors.

Our students’ supervisors play a significant role in their development. It takes a village to raise a child and supervisors become members of that village

…the village that helps to raise a child and contribute to their growth

…the village that doesn’t give up on a child while encouraging mistakes

… the village that applauds effort and not ability

…the village that reinforces responsibility

…the village that provides learning opportunities that promote confidence and self-esteem.

They are part of that village that teaches students skills that help them advance the work they complete, no matter how small.

Imagine that! Our students are surrounding themselves with a network of professionals that contribute to their growth.  A 14-year old student has formed a network with professionals from companies like Ares Management, The Aerospace Corporation, Irell & Manella, Nike, Loyola Law School, and Western Asset Management among many others.

Our Annual Supervisor Appreciation Breakfast was a small token of appreciation and time to thank our Corporate Partners for their dedication to our young men and Verbum Dei. It was a time for students and supervisors to come together and enjoy breakfast in a relaxed setting.  We are grateful to our Corporate Partners, supervisors and mentors.

Verb celebrates Latino culture

The Verb community celebrated Latino Heritage Month from September 17th – October 12th. Students, faculty and staff came together for a time of learning, sharing and having fun.

Immigration is one of the topics that the Latino Student Union and the Latino Heritage Committee has embraced to share with students. In the classrooms, students were challenged to break down the word “undocumented” and describe the words, feelings and images that come to mind when it is said. For many, the term took on a new meaning as they now understand it. Students were open to learning more about those without legal status while being respectful of their status. While for others, a new found commitment to the undocumented was formed. Students also read about prominent leaders in Latin American culture and discovered that the accomplishments of Latinos are many.

During the month-long festivities, students were introduced to Operation Dream, an organization that collects rice, beans and canned meat to send meals to orphans in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. While as a school we fell short of our goal, we showed that our community is one that loves our neighbors and gives without expecting anything in return.

Second period classes were in competition with each other for a bag of sweets if they answered a question about Latino culture correctly. During lunch, a mechanical bull brought students together as they competed to stay on the bull the longest. After school, students enjoyed the flavors of sugar and cinnamon on churros.

We will continue celebrating Latino Heritage all year long, but we culminated the month on Friday with a mass celebrated by Fr. Ted Gabrielli from Dolores Mission. He challenged us to look beyond racial status to fully embrace our brothers and sisters. He urged us to celebrate each other and accept our differences as gifts of God.

After mass, our parents prepared a tasty meal of enchiladas, rice, beans, horchata and dessert for all to enjoy. A group Salvadorans and Dominicans performed for our students and even encouraged some brave students to dance with them.

A busy month for Verb, but full of culture!

Learn, grow and experience

“Where have these four years gone…” a senior stated last week as I signed his yearbook. I smiled and continued scribbling in his yearbook words of encouragement. There was truth to his statement given that the last four years flew past us, but the years are not gone. These four are only a fraction of his life, but they are formative years that impact his future in higher education and years to come.
Here at the Verb, he has learned the value of a college prep education by taking on an academically rigorous schedule. He has appreciated the experience of a four-year work study position. The numerous service excursions allowed him to be a man with and for others. Participation in extracurricular activities enabled him to strengthen brotherhood and kinship with his peers. His involvement in sports made him a competitor and a team player. These four years gave him endless opportunities to thrive and while he will not re-live these days, the memories, experiences and relationship are forever present in his mind and heart.
This is what the Verb is all about…providing opportunities for young men to learn, grow and experience. And this senior succeeded because he took full advantage of all we have to offer. He is on his way to St. John’s University in Minnesota and without a doubt, will reach great heights. I am honored to know him and be witness to his development.

The Unexpected

On a recent visit to one of our Corporate Partners, the supervisor was outlining the tasks each of his 4 students perform, and was explaining how much he appreciates Verbum Dei’s students. He then pauses and tells me, “You know, when we first started this program, I expected to spend a considerable amount of time training our students when they first arrive, re-explaining instructions and that sort of stuff. I knew they would be young and that I would have to get used to them being here. But, what I didn’t expect was to miss our students on the days when they are out ill. We have come to rely on them so much that when they are not here, man, we miss them and our work load doubles! We all look forward to their arrival because they energize and increase morale in the office. They are members of our team and carry out important tasks, so when they are absent, I hurt for help!”

From my visit with this company and many others, it is evident that the students add value and significantly contribute to the operations of the departments where they work. The Corporate Work Study Program is a win-win for students and the companies. Students are gaining valuable professional and life skills that only come with the hands on experience they are receiving at organizations that partner with us. The work study program compliments the academic program and I am proud to be a part of this wonderful experience. I, just like the supervisor above, value the time spent mentoring and teaching our Verb students.

Verbum Dei students are well rounded young men who graduate with a high school diploma, an impressive resume, spiritual growth, social skills development, a caring heart and a positive outlook in life. As an adult, it is rewarding to work with and for a group of young men who want to succeed and accomplish the impossible.

If you haven’t visited the Nest, come on down…we are happy to host you and show you firsthand how Verbum Dei Eagles soar!