Success Means Helping Others

By Preston Kendall, President of Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep

Growing up in the tough, economically-blighted town of Waukegan, IL, where gang violence and drug busts dominate headlines, Esmeralda “Esme” Silva implicitly assumed that the neighborhood would shape her destiny – she and her grade school classmates were destined “to go nowhere.”

Today, the 22-year-old Cristo Rey St. Martin Class of 2010 graduate is a leading role model for young people in Waukegan. Esme’s “against-great-odds story” demonstrates how, with a strong will and grit, young people can break through the barriers imposed upon them. Esme believed that she could pursue bold dreams for the future, and she did.

Esme began her Master’s in Criminology, Law and Justice at the University of Illinois, Chicago, this September, with the hope of launching a career helping victims become survivors. “I learned two important things about myself at Cristo Rey: that I had the potential to go to college, and that my work in life is to help others, especially victims facing tough circumstances.”

Esme became the first person in her family to graduate from college, majoring in criminology and law studies and minoring in sociology at Marquette University. She dedicated her senior year to mentoring CRSM students as a coordinator for the Corporate Work Study Program, working as a liaison between student workers and their parents as well as their employers.

“My parents felt that if I was in a Catholic school, I would have an opportunity that they never had. My dad worked in a factory at the time. Today he owns his landscape company, and my mom is in retail, but they always had big dreams for me.”

Comments are closed.