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We Choose PCRHS

PCR parents Esteban and Imelda Hernandez share how they chose PCRHS and the impact it's had on their students.

When Esteban and Imelda Hernandez were young, they both learned their own lessons about the value of education. Imelda was the youngest of 9, 6 girls and 3 boys. Her parents were both illiterate because they were unable to go to school.

“My father wanted to learn,” Imelda said. “He taught himself to read and write. He was very good at math and loved reading history books.

After high school, though, Imelda didn’t want to continue her studies, preferring to start working.

“I tried college for a couple of months,” she said, “but universities in Mexico were always on strike since teachers were never being paid enough. But during my first year of work, my dad told me, ‘You are going to stop working because you’re going to finish your studies.’”

Knowing that that her family would not be able to afford a private education, Imelda told her father that she would only go to school if she could go to a private academy to become a secretary. His response surprised her.

“He told me that it didn’t matter what he had to do, they were going to make it happen because he wanted me to finish my studies. And thanks to him, I was able to get my degree.”

Esteban also came from a large family. He came to the U.S. when he was in 6th grade and after starting high school in Chicago, he was able to get his GED when his family moved to Indianapolis.

“Unfortunately, my parents weren’t able to send me to a private school—even a low tuition was too much,”

Esteban shared. “I saw a lot of things in the public school system, but I was there to learn, that was my goal. I wanted to learn English, to learn how to express myself, how to communicate. Of course, there were other kids who were not a good influence, but I did my best to just focus and stick to myself.”

GED in hand, Esteban went on to Ivy Tech, where a mentor suggested he go to culinary school, an industry he has worked in ever since.

“There’s always work,” Esteban said. “I can’t complain. I want to be an example for my children. We’re showing them what’s possible with hard work. We want them to see that if we could do it, with all the barriers we have, then they can do it too."

As their three children grew, Imelda and Esteban looked for high school options for their kids that would prepare them for future success. Not having heard about Providence Cristo Rey, they sent their oldest daughter to a public high school.

“My oldest daughter didn’t even apply to scholarships,” Imelda said, shaking her head ruefully. “Even now, she’s struggling to pay back her loans. She tells Esteban (who the family calls Junior), my youngest, to work hard because although she graduated, she’s paying for it now.”

As they began looking for a different option for their second daughter, Alondra, Imelda and Esteban came across a school they initially thought was out of their reach, Providence Cristo Rey High School.

“When we found Cristo Rey, we realized that a private school didn’t have to be as expensive as we thought,” Esteban said. “Once we realized it was actually affordable, we knew we wanted to send Alondra to PCR because we knew it would be a better education.”

The family was also convinced when they heard about PCR’s Corporate Work Study Program. They liked that students had the opportunity to learn, not only how to make money, but also how to value it and the hard work required to earn it.

“I also appreciated the small size of the school,” Esteban added. “It gives the kids a higher possibility of learning than in most public schools. I remember when I was in school there were over 2,500 students at once and the poor teachers didn’t have time to attend to all of them. There was very much a mindset of—those who get it, get it, and those who don’t get left behind.”

But perhaps what Imelda and Esteban appreciate most about PCRHS is the preparation it gives students to continue on to college and beyond. Their daughter Alondra proudly graduated from PCR in 2015 and is in her last year of nursing school. She has been working in the cancer center at IU Health for five years, and, according to her parents, highly recommends PCR because it taught her that she had to work hard if she wanted to achieve her goals.

Meanwhile, their youngest child, Esteban Junior, is getting ready to graduate from PCR in the spring of 2024. He has already been accepted into 6 different Indiana universities and has been working with PCR’s college counseling staff to apply for scholarships to pursue his interests in becoming a computer technician. Esteban Sr. smiled as he recounted conversations he’s had with his son about his experience at PCR, the tight-knit relationships he’s built with teachers, the experience he’s been gaining at his Corporate Work Study Job at the real estate company Cushman Wakefield, and the confidence he has built in himself and his own potential for success.

“He’s excited for college,” Imelda said fondly, “I pray that with support he’s able to achieve his goals. We’re behind him 100%, and he always says to me, ‘Don’t worry mom, I’ll be able to. They’re helping me a lot at school and I know that we’re going to make it.’ I have a lot of faith in him and gratitude that the school has helped him get this far.”

Neither parent is ready for Junior to leave, however. “¡Voy a llorar, se va mi niño! (I’m going to cry, my son is leaving!)” Esteban said, laughing.

Even though they will no longer have students at PCR, the couple says they plan to stick around – “as long as you’ll have us. If not, feel free to send us home.”

As active members of PCR’s Parent Ambassador group, Imelda and Esteban have been volunteering at the school and assisting with the school’s recruitment efforts for years. They spoke passionately about their desire to show other families what PCR has to offer and why they chose, and continue choose, to be a part of the school community.

“We want to continue to encourage more students to attend and spread the word to friends and family,” Imelda said. “We love this school. At Cristo Rey, you show students that they matter, show the parents that they matter. You welcome people in, make them feel at home. Yo estoy contenta, de verdad.”

Support the education of students like Alondra and Esteban HERE!


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