Elijah Brown: Growing as a Professional and Community Member
Starting in my role as the Advancement Coordinator for Grants Management and Program Development at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School has been a period of learning and excitement. As my job title alludes, my work at Cristo Rey has primarily consisted of grant work getting me up to speed and incorporated with the San Jose Digital Inclusion Grant (SJDIP). The SJDIP is a philanthropic effort by the City of San Jose that targets the digital divide in Silicon Valley by providing underserved citizens with access to a stable internet connection. In the case of Cristo Rey, the SJDIP supplies hotspots which can be distributed to students and allow them to stay connected to the internet wherever they travel. The sheer amount of collaboration and data managed within the project has proven to be an invaluable resource because it challenges me to step out of my comfort zone and develop as a young professional.
Working at Cristo Rey and on the SJDIP has also given me a unique insight into the social realities of Silicon Valley. In the past few weeks, I’ve become more conscious of the disparities in income and internet access within San Jose. At Cristo Rey, all of the students come from low-income backgrounds. As someone who’s had a privileged upbringing, I’ve cherished the opportunity to interact and learn from students who may have lacked the opportunities and resources that many individuals take for granted on a day-to-day basis. Through time spent with some of the students at Cristo Rey, I’ve also seen what brilliant minds and characters are at the school. In addition, my work with the SJDIP has opened my eyes to how extensive San Jose’s digital divide is. In this day and age, and especially in a place like Silicon Valley, access to the internet has become an essential tool in life. Despite this truth, I’ve learned while working on the SJDIP that 95,000 citizens in San Jose lack access to the internet, and 55% of low-income residents remain unconnected.
A pleasant surprise at Cristo Rey has been just how inclusive and trusting the community has been towards me in such a short amount of time. From the beginning, I was immediately brought into the loop and included in important meetings and tasks. In my opinion, my coworkers' conduct is not only a testament to their characters but also to their professionalism and commitment to building a pleasant work environment. The immediate trust and respect that I’ve felt while working at Cristo Rey have helped me to be more confident in my tasks and what I can offer to the school.
Overall, I am enjoying my placement at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School, and I look forward to the many great experiences to come!