Crystal once walked the halls of Kennedy High School as a shy, bright freshman. Although her grades put her among the top 10 students in her class, a fear of public speaking kept her from wanting to achieve the top spot – valedictorian.
Crystal Jalomo, an Enterprise Information Technology (EIT) intern this summer, is glad mentors from CPS Energy helped her overcome her fear. The decision to grow didn’t happen overnight. Crystal participated in the InspireU mentoring program and for the first three years was paired with CPS Energy employee Michele Price. Michelle kindly planted seeds of encouragement. Simple words like “You can do it!” and “There’s no need to be afraid” seemed to take root. The Kennedy High School student slowly began to show signs she was breaking out of her shell. Crystal began interacting with other students and speaking up in class when she didn’t understand material.
“Every year it was amazing to see how much she would open up,” said Michele, a Standards Specialist on the Gas Delivery team. “She just started blossoming.”
Team members like Michele commit time every year to serve as mentors, encouraging local students to stay in school, graduate and sprout into successful adults. Our employees have been filling this role for more than a decade through InspireU, a partnership between our Company and Communities In Schools – San Antonio (CIS-SA). They meet with students at least twice a month – once off campus and once at the student’s school.
In the summer, our Company hires students, including some from InspireU, to gain hands-on experience through a paid summer internship. Mentors like David Saenz, Manager of EIT Desktop and Mobile Support, provide guidance and counsel to interns.
Internship enhances growth
By the end of her junior year, Crystal was well-positioned to be valedictorian and was nearly ready to face her fear. That summer, she began an internship with David’s team and pushed herself to gain confidence.
“My instinctive response was to avoid interacting with people I didn’t know,” she said. “However, I knew I would need to step outside of my comfort zone if I wanted to get the most out of my internship.”
Crystal approached David after a meeting to ask how she could improve. He pointed out that she had done well resolving technical issues with phones, computer software and printers, but she needed to work on relating with people. He gave her a few ideas for conversation starters and challenged her to be more engaging.
“She really took it to heart and thrived from there,” said Saenz. “She just needed a little encouragement to be more cordial and friendly with customers.”
Facing fear, achieving greatness
Crystal’s internship gave her a confidence boost going into her senior year and allowed her to reach her potential.
In June, she stood before hundreds of her peers and others for the Kennedy graduation ceremony to deliver the valedictorian speech. While addressing the large crowd, she expressed appreciation for CPS Energy mentors who encouraged her to grow and offered her own words of inspiration.
“The real challenge in life is to fall down and have the courage to stand back up,” she said. “Don’t let circumstances keep you down. If there is an obstacle in the road that stops you from advancing in your career, take the time and overcome that obstacle.”
David and Michele are proud to see Crystal achieving her goals and pursuing new ones. This summer, she returned for another internship at CPS Energy to gain more professional experience before heading to the University of Texas at Austin where she’ll study computer science.
Like gardeners tilling the soil, watering and making sure plants have enough sunlight to flourish, our employees proudly mentor students budding with potential. In June, 42 of our team members celebrated the fruits of their labor when CPS Energy was named Outstanding Corporate Partner of the Year for the second straight year. This fall when the new school year commences, our InspireU mentors will be ready to sow more seeds of encouragement to cultivate success in students’ lives.