April 3, 2019
Preston Kendall, President, Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep
Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep is a co-sponsored ministry of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
Jonathan Catalan graduated from Cristo Rey St. Martin in 2014 and from Loras College in 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. He was recently hired as a Social Worker at a prominent multi-program social service agency, Mano a Mano Family Resource Center.
But that tidy synopsis doesn’t describe Jonathan’s journey. His plans to become the first in his family to attend college were dashed when his parents experienced serious health and financial setbacks. But Jonathan’s hard work and persistence paid off because while he was rearranging his life, he was notified that Loras had awarded him a scholarship.
Jonathan quips that he “didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up.” He enrolled in a variety of classes at Loras – including computer science and theology. But his path became clear while attending a social welfare intro class. That class led him onward and upward to a degree in Social Work.
Was it smooth sailing after graduation? Hardly. In Iowa, jobs for college grads with skills in two languages were plentiful; in northern Illinois, the story was very different. Nonetheless, Jonathan opted to return home to help his family and look for a job in a difficult market.
Asked how he found the job he wanted, “My mother is an exceptional woman; a great example of the word ‘grit.’ She’s a former policewoman, tough as nails with a heart of gold. She taught me to persist, to rely on my own resources.”