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Cristo Rey High School Students Provide Interpreting Services

Having a job in high school is common for many students, but for Eric Calderon and Alejandro Vega, having a job means much more than simply getting some extra spending money- it is an essential tool to help pay for their education, and for their future success.

Eric and Alejandro are part of a new partnership between Children's Mercy and Cristo Rey Kansas City in which four Cristo Rey students help provide interpreting services for Spanish-speaking patients and families. Participating in this program allows the students to work for their education as part of Cristo Rey's work-study program. The money they earn goes toward their tuition.

"Every Monday through Friday, four students are now working in the guest services program from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.," said Lisa Take, Office Coordinator of Volunteer and Guest Services. "All of the students are bilingual and are providing wonderful customer service to our Spanish-speaking families at the Moon Patient Information Desk."


Every Tuesday, Eric, a 15-year-old sophomore, guides families throughout the hospital, helping them in any way he can. Known as "pathfinders," these students assist families that are not familiar with the hospital. Eric said he is thankful for his position and takes pride in his work at Children's Mercy.

"This program that Children's Mercy has put together for us is amazing," Eric said. "It's such a great opportunity. They have so much trust and confidence in us, and they allow us to have real responsibilities and work with families and children." Eric said that his last job consisted of stuffing envelopes all day, so he is thankful to have a job with significant responsibilities.

Eric describes his experience at Children's Mercy as a life-lesson. His experience, although not that lengthy, has already changed him. Before he started working here, Eric was not a very outgoing individual. "I was a really shy person before I started working at Children's Mercy. I had problems talking with families at first and was really quiet."

After he initially struggled to communicate with families, the hospital staff helped Eric develop his skills. "The staff encouraged me to start talking more with the families and helped me with my speech. Now I'm better at talking with families, and I'm not that ‘shy person' anymore."

Staff members also have been helpful in other ways. "Every single time I work, I learn something new from the staff," Eric said. "The families can be so anxious about where they need to go, but everyone at Children's Mercy is so helpful. I found that very inspiring."


Eric is not the only Cristo Rey student benefiting from his time at Children's. Alejandro is a 16-year-old senior who recently moved to Kansas City from Arizona. Like Eric, Alejandro is a pathfinder. He comes to work once a week, dressed to impress and ready to help families in need.

Alejandro is adjusting to his new life in Kansas City and is enjoying his high school's work/study program. "My previous school in Arizona had something like it," Vega said. "I am enjoying this program and think it's really good for me."

Working for Children's is something that Alejandro is not taking for granted. "Being a part of a big organization is giving me experience to succeed after I graduate," Alejandro said. "I am so impressed by the organization because they care so much about the people and kids, and that really surprised me; I've just never seen a hospital like this."

Although in its infancy, this newly formed relationship with Cristo Rey is proving to be beneficial to both organizations.

"It's such a great opportunity and honor for us to be working here," Eric said. "Everyone who works at Children's Mercy is really nice; and they're like my family because they really care about me and they are always there for me no matter what."

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In addition to being a "pathfinder" for hospital patients and families, Cristo Rey High School sophomore Eric Calderon is able to assist Spanish-speaking families with interpreting services.


Alejandro Vega, one of four Cristo Rey High School students who provides interpreting services for Spanish-speaking families, awaits his next assignment at the Moon Patient Information Desk.