Partnership with Cristo Rey High School benefits students and employees alike

 Aqua's Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School student interns, Mkii Taylor-Baldwin, Jada Harvin and Algenis Duran, with Aqua Chairman & CEO Chris Franklin, Cristo Rey Founder & President John McConnell, and Cristo Rey staff. 

For the third school year in a row, Aqua is hosting student interns from Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, a private, Catholic college-prep school located in North Philadelphia. Four students, one per grade, travel to Aqua’s Pennsylvania facilities one day a week to spend time with various departments to gain an understanding of the working world. Throughout the program, students and employees alike are benefitting from this partnership that Aqua has facilitated with Cristo Rey.

“We are excited to have the Cristo Rey students here,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Chris Kelly. “It’s a great experience for the students and provides them insight into what it’s like working in a business environment. It’s also an impactful experience for our employees; we learn a lot from the students as well.”

Absent from the group photo above is Aqua's fourth Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School student intern, Ianyah Wilson.

Joining Aqua this school year have been freshman Mkii Taylor-Baldwin, sophomore Algenis Duran, junior Jada Harvin and senior Ianyah Wilson. They have put in a few months with Aqua and together are gaining experience across the ACO, IT, finance, accounts payable, fleet and HR departments.

Our sophomore student, Algenis Duran (pictured second from the right in group photo), who is in his second year interning with Aqua, has worked in various departments at the Bryn Mawr office, and will spend the remainder of his school year working with Vice President of Fleet and Supply Chain Management Charlie Stevenson and the fleet department at the company’s Springfield facility. Before transitioning, he shared some of his experiences with the internship program.

I’ve been with Aqua for two years. I spent my freshman year in customer operations and spent a lot of my time working with landlord reverts in Banner as well as a couple other projects. At first, during my time in ACO, I only really talked to the people I sat near and didn’t really interact a lot, but Vickie Carrillo brought me out of my comfort zone by helping me get to know people.

The first half of my sophomore year I worked in different areas of the IT department. It was easy to meet new people, work on various things and discover what I’m interested in. I am looking forward to spending the second half of my sophomore year in Springfield and gaining a larger experience in the company.

My internship with Aqua is part of Cristo Rey’s work-study program. The work-study program is a way for students to get experience in the workplace and helps families pay for their tuition to keep our education affordable. We are placed in departments at companies based on our interests. At the end of my freshman year, I expressed a curiosity in IT, which is why I was placed in that department the first half of my sophomore year. Students have internships all four years, which can help provide us with connections for future jobs and recommendations.

Being a Cristo Rey student isn’t easy, as Cristo Rey isn’t an ordinary school. We are focused on not just getting into college, but graduating college. A lot is expected from us because our teachers want us to know that we can achieve great things.

I wasn’t always planning to attend Cristo Rey High School. I was originally planning on attending Mercy CTE, which is a vocational trade school. I’m glad I decided to attend Cristo Rey and that I could get this amazing experience being on the Aqua team.

 

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Aqua Partners with Cristo Rey High School to Offer Students Professional Work Experience

Throughout the last few months, there have been some new faces around Aqua. These are the faces of the Cristo Rey High School interns. There are four interns working at Aqua, one from each grade. I am the senior student, Kathleen Santiago, and I have been working with the communications department. Also joining me at Aqua are freshman George who is working in the Human Resources Department, sophomore Aaron who is working in the Accounting, Rates and Planning Department, and junior Jaide who is working in administration, which comprises customer operations, IT and fleet.

Cristo Rey is a college-prep, private Catholic high school in North Philadelphia. Being a student at my high school is not like being a student at your typical high school. Cristo Rey is particularly focused on getting us into college, and having an internship all four years helps us achieve that goal. Our internships are organized through the work-study program, which is a significant part of being a student at Cristo Rey. It is what keeps our school running, and keeps our education affordable.

Our internships do not interfere with our academics, and the ability to maintain my schoolwork while having an internship has become something that is natural to me. Having the opportunity to be involved in the work-study program helps us get ready for college and the real world and ultimately has helped me grow.

This is how the work-study program works: Each Cristo Rey student works one day out of the week in a professional setting as a full-time intern. Given that we miss one day of school, our academic day is extended. The internships help students pay for the cost of a private Catholic school tuition. While working, each student earns approximately 60 percent of their tuition, and their family contribution covers the rest.

We do not get to choose our job placements, but we do get placed based on our interests. To help us get paired up with the best internship experience, we take surveys and work with the work-study department to determine what we’d like to do in the future. Our internships are assigned to us during what Cristo Rey calls “Signing Day.” This is an NFL-style draft day, where all job partners come and announce who will be joining their company and give out a little of their company swag. Local news is always there to capture the excitement, including NBC 10 and FOX 29 news.

Being involved in the work-study program has given me the opportunity to experience working at four varied companies. During my freshman year, I worked at Lavin Law. At Lavin I summarized depositions and I even had the opportunity to attend some depositions in person. The Comcast Center was where I held my sophomore year internship. While at Comcast, I worked in the Products and Engineering Department. My responsibilities were to test new products that would soon be sold to customers, as well as prepare reports based on current customer feedback. For my junior year, I was an intern at Penn Medicine Tuttleman Center. While I was at Penn, I answered phone calls from patients, took messages and put in prescriptions.

Now for my final year in high school and in the work-study program, I am going to soak up all the skills and knowledge I can while here at Aqua. I am extremely excited to develop new skills, and expand my writing skills and proper business etiquette. I also hope to leave behind some of the things I have learned as well.

I am happy to be a part of the team at Aqua, and to have the opportunity to get to experience new things like writing blog entries for the company website, meeting new people and building relationships. I will be able to take these skills, along with those gained throughout my previous three internships, with me next fall as I begin my journey into college.

Throughout my time at Cristo Rey High School, I have come to realize the importance of my internships, and how they will help prepare me for my college journey and beyond. Because of Cristo Rey, and my experiences at my internships, I was accepted into Cabrini University and Gywnedd Mercy University. I am genuinely grateful for Cristo Rey, the work-study program and for my final internship here at Aqua.

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