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Unfiltered: Teacher and Student on A New Future

Detroit won't change all at once. It will change slowly – one brick, one person at a time.

Recently, I heard about a project between Detroit Cristo Rey High School and Comerica Bank, which sent volunteers to the school to provide a business training workshop for approximately 80 students. The workshop is part of Cristo Rey's summer training program, which prepares students to enter a corporate work study program where they will each maintain jobs at local organizations.

So today I present you with two guest bloggers: one of the Comerica volunteers (Susan Schmidt) and a student (Reem) who participated. It seems to me that these kinds of relationships are what will give Detroit a chance to change what's wrong and make it right.

Some background: At Detroit Cristo Rey, the student body is 85 percent Black and 35 percent Hispanic. It is 65 percent female. And 85 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Cristo Rey is a nationwide Catholic, co-educational college prep school. The Cristo Rey Network students have a 94 percent graduation rate nationwide.

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By Susan Schmidt, senior vice president of corporate quality process at Comerica Bank

Detroit Cristo Rey High School is dedicated to providing quality college preparation and career training for each and every student. That's why the students at Cristo Rey hit the books early for a special lesson in career preparation at a time when most kids are savoring the last few days of summer.

Volunteers from Comerica Bank recently joined in these efforts and spent time teaching the students about the basics of business communication. Students learned the do's and don'ts of effective presentations and practiced developing professional responses to questions. It was an exciting opportunity for me to serve as one of the presenters that day, and was a pleasure to interact with students who are so open to learning.

The training was held as part of the school's corporate work study program, in which students maintain jobs at local Detroit organizations. The students work to contribute funds to pay for their education, while also gaining valuable experience. The mission of the Cristo Rey Network is to prepare low-income urban students to become successful college graduates. Here's one rising student's perspective on preparing for her work study, and her plans to pursue a career as an author or a singer—or both.

By: Reem, Class of 2014

My name is Reem and I'm a student at Detroit Cristo Rey High School. Last week some volunteers from Comerica Bank came to my school to help us learn about the business world. We talked a lot about professionalism and what to expect in our work study.

We practiced things like how to have a good handshake, how to make a good first impression and business etiquette. During the workshop we took turns practicing our introductions with the Comerica volunteers. We each had to stand up and say our name, school, age and something we enjoy doing. This was really helpful because it was good practice for the future and helped me be more confident with public speaking.

A tip I learned is to speak loud and clear during an interview and I'll try to remember this from now on. I also learned to arrive early to an interview, and to not be afraid to ask the interviewer to restate a question if I don't understand. Another thing students should know about business is not to have an unprofessional message on your cell phone or put inappropriate things online because you could lose your job or a job opportunity.

I would have to say my favorite part of the workshop was just listening to everything the volunteers had to say. It was interesting to hear about their jobs and experiences. It is very important for students to receive this type of training because it can really help you succeed in the future if you take time to learn about the business world.

After I graduate I plan to get a degree in English literature and finish my book that I am working on right now. I also really love to sing, so I would like to work in the music industry, too.

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To learn more about Comerica Bank and its Community Reinvestment Act visit Comerica's web site. For information about the Cristo Rey Network visit here.

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