Mia Gonzales doesn’t take her education for granted. She works for it — both in the classroom and in the corporate world. Each week, she spends time working at an accounting firm through a program her high school set up to help students like her pay for their education.
“Some advice that I would give to other people is to always take advantage of what you have and never take it for granted,” Mia shares.
Meet Mia: high school student
(Mia sits at a computer, working)
Mia Gonzales: It’s kind of like an honor to help my family and myself pay for my education.
Mia is a sophomore in high school. She works at an accounting firm and in exchange, the firm helps her pay for Catholic education.
I go to DOZ, and I had to work hard for it because I know it’s a privilege to be there, and that’s why I really like it.
Cristo Rey High Schools provide all of their students with corporate jobs. This allows inner-city kids to get a private education and jump-start their careers.
Andrew Jansen: These are students who otherwise might not be able to get a Catholic education. A lot of college students will leave college without any work experience. Well, now our students technically already have four full years of corporate work experience before they’ve even entered college.
Mia: We get here around 7:30, and that’s when you load into a bus. And I usually get there around 8:00, and that’s when I do actual accounting, which is way harder than I expected it to be.
(Looking at computer screen) That’s what spent on debit and what they spent on credit, and that’s when you add it all together, and then it has to have the specific ending balance. Or I have to go back and check each one, see where I made a mistake.
I go home and I have to figure out what my homework and how I had to do it, which I usually get done around 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 will be the latest.
Interviewer: 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 at night?
Mia: Mm hmm.
It was hard at first, like I was struggling a lot. So, that’s when I sat myself down, and I told my mom that, “You need to take my phone away or else I’m not going to do it.” My dad is a construction worker. My mom, she used to work two jobs at night to help us, and she has told me that I have to step it up and work hard because she wants me to become something in life better than she did. So, I feel that responsibility, so that’s why I always keep my grades up because it will help me out in the future. And I could help my mom out, and I could help my family out.
Business owners collaborate with the high school to train the next generation of leaders.
Probably my goal is to become like an architect, so like have my own building and then help others. Or I want to be a CEO of something. Or I want to do something that’s really important.
Some advice that I would give to other people is to always take advantage of what you have and never take it for granted. And the only way you’ll learn in life is by doing it yourself and going through all the hardships of it.
(Mia organizes computer desktops and cords)