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New High School Gives Students Real-World Career Experience

Created: 08 July, 2020
Updated: 12 September, 2023
3 min read

A new high school in San Diego is offering students a combination of strong academics and real-world career experience to better prepare them for college and beyond.

Cristo Rey High School, an independent Catholic school, is part of a 39-school network of similar schools throughout the country originally founded in 1996 to provide working-class families with a high-quality education in a way that makes it financially attainable; students work part-time in professional settings to help offset part of their tuition while gaining valuable work experience.

“Cristo Rey will best help students from economically disadvantaged families who may not otherwise have access to a high-quality, college-preparatory education,” Robert Nascenzi, Founding President of Cristo Rey High School in San Diego told La Prensa San Diego. “The school challenges students to recognize their full potential and to love God, respect others, and serve their community,” he added.

The high school is located at St. Jude’s Church campus on 38th Street in South Crest and is only open to families that have a total annual income of not more than three times the federal poverty level, or $78,600 for a family of four. All of the network’s 39 schools operate under similar income guidelines to help working-class families in underrepresented communities.

“Cristo Rey is the largest network of high schools in the U.S. that provides a college preparatory education to underserved students in our inner cities,” Nascenzi added.

Under the school’s Corporate Work Study Program, every student works five days per month at an entry-level position in a professional setting. Corporate partner companies agree to fill one full-time equivalent job position through job-sharing between multiple students, and the students earn about half of their annual tuition through the job experience. The Cristo Rey Network of schools has over 18,000 alumni and over 3,450 Corporate Work Study business sponsors.

Mr. Nascenzi has intensive experience in business and education, having led several companies and was a co-founder of Tech SD, a local collaboration between industry, education, and government. Nascenzi also served on San Dieguito Union School District’s Prop AA Oversight Committee and was President of the Canyon Crest Academy Foundation, as well as having co-founded the DoGoodClub Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to raising money to help the homeless. He earned his BA from Boston College and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

The school’s administration also includes Principal Mike Derrick, Director of Corporate Work Study Steve Egge, Director of Recruitment & Admissions Alfonso Magaña, and Chief Administrator Officer Julio Galindo.

Galindo formally served as the Founding Executive Director of San Diego’s Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI), an after-school enrichment program based at Perkins Elementary School that he helped launch in 1996. Galindo later served as Program Manager of the Indianapolis Foundation in Indiana, as well as having owned and managed a large insurance company in Tucson, Arizona, before returning to San Diego this year. Galindo earned his BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and his Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York.

“I’m really excited to be back in San Diego and working to help students in our underrepresented communities prepare for college through a rigorous study and work program,” Galindo said this week. “My heart has always been in helping young students experience all the opportunities that higher education can bring them and their families,” he added.

Enrollment is currently open for the school’s three-week Summer Success Academy which starts on July 21st, and regular classes are scheduled to begin on August 17th.

The original school in the network, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, opened in a Latino neighborhood of working-class families in Chicago. The schools work in close partnership with the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, also known as the Eudists. The Network now has 39 schools in 24 states, including six in California in Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Diego.

For more information, contact Alfonso Magaña at 619-432-1899 or visit