As their CRC experience ends… mine begins.

If we muster the courage to think back to our high school days we’ll likely recall the feeling of excitement as our long-awaited summer break approaches. The nerves that accompany finals preparation, the pride of completing another year, and the edge-of-your-seat energy as you look forward to three months of sun and freedom–this was the environment that I stepped into on my first day of work as a Columbus Foundation Fellow placed with Cristo Rey Columbus High School (CRC).

While these feelings transcend most high schools and their student bodies, the end-of-the-year excitement for CRC students is exaggerated tenfold due to their extended school year. However, many would argue that the trade off is worth the few extra weeks. CRC boasts a unique Professional Work Study Program where every student dedicates a day out of each week to work at a local job site for the entire academic year. So, by the time CRC students graduate, not only do they have a Catholic, college-preparatory high school education under their belt, but they have been equipped with four years of professional work experience. This is something that truly sets them apart from their fellow college applicants. And here’s the real kicker–CRC serves the economically disadvantaged population in Columbus, striving to empower young men and women of all faiths to graduate from college when the option may not be afforded to them otherwise. How cool?

This was all information that I knew before I even stepped onto school grounds on my first day. Another thing to note–CRC has inhabited the Ohio School for the Deaf that moved to the North Side in 1953. They recently were nationally recognized for their renovation efforts as they maintained the beautiful historic elements of the building yet have completely restored the interior to best fit their needs as a growing, modern high school institution. I reiterate… HOW COOL.

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Now, concerning my role at CRC as a their Fellow for the next ten weeks… CRC opened its doors to their first class at the start of the 2013-2014 school year. These students were put on the trajectory to graduate after the 2016-2017 school year, and that’s where I come in. I have been tasked with developing a two-year advancement strategy for how CRC will manage communications and fundraising related to their first graduation so that they may leverage this milestone to increase revenue and community exposure. Essentially, I have embraced my role as a research fellow (ish) with the opportunity to utilize all sorts of resources and channels of communication to truly formulate the best practices for CRC as they prepare for this celebration of the success of their students.

I cannot begin to articulate how excited I am to delve into my project here at Cristo Rey Columbus. The Columbus Foundation has offered me an opportunity of a lifetime and I am so blessed to have their support as well as the chance to journey alongside my fellow *Fellows* during our summer 2016 experiences. At the start of last week, I didn’t have a clue as to what I could expect, but I can tell you now that my few days at Cristo Rey Columbus have already been challenging, engaging, and absolutely energizing. I can’t wait to share my experience with you!


My name is Anna Hays and I am a recent graduate from the University of Dayton. I received my Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Political Science and earned a Nonprofit Community Leadership graduate certificate as well. The jury’s still out regarding what the rest of my professional life will entail, but hey, I have a plan. And who really has it all figured out anyways?

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