You help provide hope when you give to CTK.
Hope is a word that we find ourselves referencing a lot lately – a word that holds a special meaning for CTK alumna Darayzhia Henry ’17.
Darayzhia spent the past two years at Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, where she consistently made the Dean’s List. She continued to live out her favorite Jesuit Grad at Grad value of “Being Open to Growth” as one of ten students chosen to further their Ignatian studies during a study abroad program in Spain.
If you were to meet Darayzhia today, you might think, “There goes another CTK success story,” and you would be right. But that is only part of her story.
When Darayzhia first came to CTK, she was quiet and closed off. She will even tell you she had “an attitude,” and would not let people get close to her. Mrs. Reniff, her freshman advisor, took notice and was there for her, patiently showing Darayzhia that she could be trusted – that she was not going anywhere.
During her first year, Darayzhia found herself on academic probation due to poor grades. She needed help, and Mrs. Reniff was there to help her refocus on her studies. After Darayzhia improved her grades, Mrs. Reniff reassured her, “You can still come to me. I care about you and want you to be successful.” Darayzhia took those words to heart and the two developed a bond, that continued throughout her four years at CTK.
With Mrs. Reniff’s support, Darayzhia opened up and fully embraced her time at CTK - through her Corporate Work Study jobs, through her involvement in cheerleading, band, track, and yearbook, and through her dedication in the classroom. She ended her time at CTK on a high note, with recognition as one of two graduating seniors embodying the ideal characteristics of a Jesuit high school graduate - the “Grad at Grad.” For someone who struggled when she started her high school career, this award was especially meaningful for Darayzhia: “It gave me hope. I felt a sense of hope when I graduated from CTK, and that award signified a lot; not just growth at school, but personally. I have faith, too. Faith and hope for the future.”
This past spring, Darayzhia donned a cap and gown and proudly crossed the stage, graduating with her Associate’s degree from Arrupe College. Not surprisingly, her friend and mentor, Mrs. Reniff was there once again to cheer her on! Along with her CTK graduation, this was one of the happiest days of Darayzhia’s life, complete with smiling photos shared across social media and plans of pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in the fall.
A few weeks ago, Darayzhia contacted Mrs. Reniff, saying she had received some bad news. The college that she was looking forward to attending was not able to offer her a financial aid package that would allow her to afford tuition. Her path toward a Bachelor’s degree was in jeopardy. Mrs. Reniff quickly involved CTK’s college counselor, Mr. Zundel, who began working with Darayzhia.
While not her Plan A, and certainly a let-down for Darayzhia, she will be working and taking a few classes toward her degree this semester, as she continues to work with Mr. Zundel to determine her next step.
At the start of this letter, I referenced Darayzhia as “another CTK success story,” and I meant it. Our students’ paths to and through college are often not linear, and require persistence and grit, yet all their journeys are filled with hope. They persevere. When asked what gives her hope, Darayzhia told me, “Still being in school. A lot of people start and drop out. I kept going. As long as I keep pressing on, I know I’ll get what I want.”
And Darayzhia can be sure that Mrs. Reniff and her CTK family will be with her along the way.
We need your help in providing support to students, graduates, and families at CTK. Please make a gift today, and join us in providing hope for CTK students and alumni, like Darayzhia. Thank you!
Clement V. MartinPresident