“I was determined to open up my horizons and contribute to my school and work community.”

Dulce, a senior, who works at North Shore Health Systems and will be attending Arrupe College in the fall. This is the speech she delivered at our Evening of Gratitude to our Business Partners on May 9, 2018.

Good evening everyone. My name is Dulce and I am a senior at Cristo Rey St Martin. After graduating in June, I look forward to double-majoring in business and studying to be a Physician Assistant. I joined Cristo Rey my sophomore year.  In my three years at the school, I have been working with North Shore University Health System in the Human Resources department. I am proud to be talking to all of you today.

Growing up, my life always seemed to be going in various directions. Whether I was switching schools, or moving various places, the one profound memory that remains ingrained in my mind is gardening with my Grandma Ruby. I remember it as if it were yesterday, the sun was beaming brightly on a Sunday morning as my grandmother called out my name, “Mija! Ven aquí!  I ran as fast as a five-year-old ever could. My grandmother was about to start her annual garden and she decided I was old enough to embark on this new journey that defines me as the person I am today.

The sun’s warmth caramelized my skin as I sat with my grandmother. She dug perfectly symmetrical holes for the flowers while I pulled the flowers out of their pots. Soon came time to plant the vibrant pieces of artwork. Before she put the soil back to complete the garden, I stared at the roots of the plants. I always thought it was beautiful to see how plants can adapt and blossom anywhere if placed with the proper care and affection.

The same concepts seemed to apply to me as I blossomed. The foundation that my grandmother laid for me related to what she did with her plants; my roots adapted and progressed as a tulip would within the Corporate Work Study Program. I had never worked in my entire life because of my legal status. While growing up, I always dreaded getting older because it was challenging to be an undocumented individual in the United States where it often feels like you are unwanted. The day I applied to DACA, a million emotions rushed through my heart and the suspense wounded my confidence as a human being. Finally, the mailman handed over the mail as he would have on any other day, but this time, I had received the acceptance letter from the state. It was my time to blossom.

As soon as my working permit, social security and other vital paperwork arrived, I transferred to Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep. I was determined to open my horizons and contribute to my school and work communities. When I was assigned to my corporate work study job, my coordinator was a bit skeptical since I was new, as was the hospital that partnered with the school. It was a huge risk sending a new intern with no experience into a working world but I’m grateful they did. The day I put foot on the granite floor, I knew I was meant to be there. I went from not knowing how to assemble an email, getting mini panic attacks talking to adults, and not knowing how to even answer a professional phone call, to being able to set up interviews, page and email managers and also be able to handle the whole HR office to myself. I was no longer scared, I used all of the tools my grandmother planted in me.

I worked hard, learned quickly and did what I could to help others. Slowly doors started opening for me. My coordinator told me how the hospital loved my work ethic and as a result asked for three more interns for their other sites. I was overwhelmed with joy knowing that I made a huge impact on the hospital and school, especially since it was the result of my work ethic. Later on I was asked to work during the school breaks. It was a beautiful feeling knowing that my roots were spreading.

My job made me realize that there are many opportunities in the real world; it helped me to appreciate how one’s roots, when combined with hard work, can lead one to a path of personal success.  For this, I will always be eternally grateful for the Corporate Work Study Program, my business partner – North Shore University HealthSystem, and the Cristo Rey St. Martin community. If I was ever asked for advice, I would say to create a relationship with your office because they do turn into your second family.  Trust the process because although there are bad days, the good ones always will overcome the bad ones and to ask questions, because at the end of the day, if you weren’t meant for that position, you wouldn’t have been there. Thank you.