High School Intern on Work, School, & College Apps

Episode #79. Host Jonathan Hughes talks with MEFA’s intern, Jariel Ruiz, a senior at Cristo Rey High School in Boston about his MEFA internship and college planning experience. Jariel shares what he learned during his time at MEFA, how he used the online tool MEFA Pathway to search for colleges, his experience at Cristo Rey HS, his journey on deciding what college to attend, and where he has decided to enroll. If you enjoy the MEFA Podcast, please leave us a review.

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Resources Mentioned in this Episode

MEFA Pathway

Cristo Rey High School


0:00: Intro

1:42 Interview with Jariel Ruiz


Jariel Ruiz: [00:00:00] Yeah, I first applied to 12 colleges and those 12 colleges I was just really looking at the marketing side, that's what I want to major in. That was like the first thing I thought about like education because I play basketball. Yes, I'm not bad at it, but it's, there's a lot of, there's a lot of people that play basketball.

So I have to have a backup plan. Nothing else works out. I was definitely looking into the space of a campus how far is the campus and what's like the main majors they're good at, because I really want to be at like a school that's very good at marketing. And I just like branch off from there. And just take off.

Jonathan Hughes: Hello everyone, and welcome to the MEFA Podcast. My name is Jonathan Hughes, and that was our guest on the show today. [00:01:00] His name is Jeriel Ruiz, and he is a high school student from Cristo Rey School in Dorchester. And they have a work co-op program that allows students the opportunity to work one day a week with local companies, get some hands on work experience, and see what it's like in the work world, and maybe get their interest piqued by what they're learning.

And Jariel's been interning with us for the past few years. He's a student athlete in his senior year of high school, going through the college admissions and financial aid process. So his perspective is really important to us here at MEFA, and we think it'll be important to anyone who's in a similar spot this year or next. So I'll be back with a wrap up after this, but now let's hear from our guest.

Jariel Ruiz: My name is Jariel Ruiz. I'm an intern for MEFA Pathway. I go to Cristo Rey, Boston. I'm a senior and I'm going to college.

Jonathan Hughes: All right. And how long have you been with MEFA for?

Jariel Ruiz: [00:02:00] Oh, I started my sophomore year. As an intern, of course I was doing just little projects my sophomore year and then I came in my junior year for some reason. I didn't come back I was very upset. I was highly upset. So I told him I wanted to come back next year.

Jonathan Hughes: So This is part of the school program at Cristo Rey, right? Can you talk about the co op program there and how that led you to us?

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah, it's corporate work study so it gives a good experience for the young kids coming in, especially because, the young kids are like 14, 15 max, so they don't know what a work experience is. So that's what Cristo Rey gives work experience internship, even those internships give you jobs out of school, like for the summer.

Throughout the school year first, before it did, it was paying for our tuition, now tuition is free in Christchurch, so it's a great program, no, [00:03:00] no schools really have internship programs like that.

Jonathan Hughes: So you feel like this has been a good experience?

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah, definitely. I definitely take it as like great day of the week, great day of the week.

Jonathan Hughes: And this co op experience that you have at MEFA or in general, do you think that has influenced how you? Prepared and searched for college?

Jariel Ruiz: A hundred percent. Before I was at MEFA, I was like very unorganized. And when I met with Asia, when I met with Asia my sophomore year, like she, she always told me like, number one thing was, Always have everything planned out, be organized staying on top of your stuff, because if you slip and you don't get back up, it's college is way more different.

There's no one holding your hand. I just had to be very more I had to get more disciplined. That's how I say I get, I had to get more disciplined to really get into college and really get ready.

Jonathan Hughes: As far as what you [00:04:00] do at MEFA as part of your co op program I know you've had different focuses like throughout your years here, so I don't know if you could talk about what those focuses were throughout the years and what projects you worked on and which ones did you like the best or what did they teach you?

Jariel Ruiz: I'd say my favorite project that I've done for MEFA, I'd say the video creation, just because like I feel very, it was like something on my comfort zone. I never like in front of cameras and just talk.

Jonathan Hughes: So it was fun.

Jariel Ruiz: It was a learning experience, like learning how to, stay composed. Take a pose while the camera's on you. I never been a camera person, so it was pretty fun.

Jonathan Hughes: What was the video project?

Jariel Ruiz: Our first video, I was, we was doing a like a meeting with my counselor, like me and my counselor. My second video was, I think the [00:05:00] high school, a high school athlete. So I was explaining how, high school athletes have difficulties.

It's very. Sure. You have to do what you have to do. Go to school. If you have extracurriculars, like going to work out of school, you have to go to work. Do your homework. Gotta go to practice in the morning. Yeah. And I think I was playing a little bit of basketball for the video. Oh, organizing, organizing. I was talking about how to organize.

Jonathan Hughes: Do you have any advice for students going through? This sort of internship or, work based learning experience that you went through.

Jariel Ruiz: Really be a sponge. I'll say take everything that you can really learn because any little advice could take you very far away. So learn from people that's older than you, smarter than you, been here way before you, because they'll teach you a lot.

Jonathan Hughes: I want to talk to you about being a senior this year and your college search, right? And you're [00:06:00] deep in the, College admissions, financial aid process.

I know this year is, as from working at MEFA and from going through it is a crazy year, as far as all that stuff is concerned. How did you start the college search process for yourself? And what did you look at when you were like starting to look at colleges?

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah, I first applied to 12 colleges and those 12 colleges, I was just really looking at the marketing side, like that's what I want to major in.

I was like, the 1st thing I thought about education, because I play basketball. Yes, I'm not bad at it, but, there's a lot of there's a lot of other people that play basketball. So I have to have a backup plan. If nothing else works out, I was definitely looking into space of a campus. How far is the campus and.

What's like the main majors they're good at because I really want to be at like a school that's very good at marketing and I just like branch [00:07:00] off from there and just take off. But right now I have 7 out of 12 of my colleges. So I got 7 acceptances. Five, I think four or five, but I declined, but I take the seven and one of the schools that I got a seven too, I really want to go.

Jonathan Hughes: And how did you get interested in marketing?

Jariel Ruiz: How can I say this? I always looked at it like just off of social media, like endorsing like NBA endorse. And like billboards, everything about endorsing. I don't know. I just got very like into that. I wanted to get into the business side of it. Like, how late the breakdown numbers all that.

Jonathan Hughes: But hopefully, you're able to do a little bit of that.

Jariel Ruiz: Oh yeah, for sure. MEFA helped in a lot of ways especially comparing colleges. I still use MEFA Pathway to compare colleges.

Jonathan Hughes: You mentioned when you were looking, probably using MEFA Pathway at colleges and you were looking at [00:08:00] things like the proximity, like the location and the size. When did you want to go to colleges that were close to you? Did you want to go to colleges that were further away? Did you know what appealed to you about those things?

Jariel Ruiz: So my first decision, I wanted to go to New York. I wanted to go to Iowa university. I don't know, university. Was really a basketball move and I really To myself, I really thought to myself, I was like, is this going to be a good move for myself or is it a good move for just the basketball tendencies?

And I had to think about it. I was like, I can just play basketball anywhere and I can put myself anywhere on that map. But if I don't have a good education, because the school that. When I looked into their marketing, they only really had like business administration and I was like, I'm not really into business administration.

I really want to do marketing. So I just. Went back to mass. I'm going to stay in mass.

Jonathan Hughes: You're going to stay in mass. Do you [00:09:00] think you'll live on campus or are you going to commute? Do you think?

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah, no, I'll live on campus. I can't commute.

Jonathan Hughes: Okay, so where are you looking at then?

Jariel Ruiz: Right now my, my three is Framingham State, Dean College, and UMass Dartmouth.

Jonathan Hughes: Have you had a chance to visit any of those colleges?

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah, I visited UMass Dartmouth last week. Yeah, last week. Framingham State, I visited over, I think, Saturday and being college. I haven't visited my visit this weekend.

Jonathan Hughes: How did the visits go? Do you think could you imagine yourself?

Jariel Ruiz: UMass Dartmouth great marketing. Was a very interesting tour. I knew a lot of people over there because a lot of people came. Boston, so I know a lot of people there and in Framingham State, I feel more like comfortable. I say nobody knew me. I like that. I like being [00:10:00] not known and doing myself because if I go to school, that's too much commotion.

Jonathan Hughes: I don't know if I can be. I'm losing track of the years here, but was COVID a part of this high school experience for you?

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah, for sure. I was like the, we was the 2024 class was the quarantine kids.

Jonathan Hughes: Oh, okay.

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah, they called us the quarantine kids.

Jonathan Hughes: Did you begin in quarantine or?

Jariel Ruiz: Yes, that was like through the screen. Oh, yeah.

Jonathan Hughes: How did that impact everything?

Jariel Ruiz: A lot I would say definitely impacted a lot because I was very a hands on type of learner Like I was never I never been like on a just screen and just do work that it's always that's always been a problem to me because It's I'm at home. Everything's around me.

Like, how can I not be distracted right now? It took a lot of, like I should say focus to just keep it going because it was very [00:11:00] hard just to be on the computer every day.

Jonathan Hughes: So was it was a welcome change to come back to school?

Jariel Ruiz: For sure. Yeah amazing change. Amazing change. It changed everything. I say like my grades changed, how I felt changed, everything in the world changed. I loved when everything went down.

Jonathan Hughes: We mentioned before you're a student athlete, you work co op through MEFA. You're, looking for colleges going through that process.

You get a lot of demands on your time, right? And so I know that there are a lot of students in a similar situation. You talked before about being organized, about how that impacts you, how do you manage all of the responsibilities that you have?

Jariel Ruiz: I say Cristo Rey is a good help, especially for college, especially for my counselor.

My counselor really helps me like with everything. Like she she's a real MVP of all, like the college is accepting and all that. Me out of school, I [00:12:00] work, so I work for my family. Make sure-

Jonathan Hughes: Oh, you work too?

Jariel Ruiz: So I work too. No, like I'll give you, I'll give you an example. Like sometimes I work, I go four to 12 or five to one.

Jonathan Hughes: Wow. Where?

Jariel Ruiz: Oh, Fenway.

Jonathan Hughes: Oh, you work at Fenway.

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah.

Jonathan Hughes: That's a couple hours from now. Are you going to?

Jariel Ruiz: I know I was, I'm supposed to work today, but I couldn't. So I came here. No. I'm here for this podcast.

Jonathan Hughes: Oh, wow. I'm sorry to take you away from Fenway. So you still work at Fenway? You're going to be there like every home game or?

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah, no, yeah. I'm gonna be there starting next week.

Jonathan Hughes: Wow. What's that like?

Jariel Ruiz: It's I say, you can't quit that job. It's Wonderland. You walk out, you just see a field. It's baseball. Like, how can not, [00:13:00] how can you quit that job? Serving food, making sure people are alright. Watching baseball at the same time, great weather sometimes because Boston is sometimes bipolar, but great weather. Yeah.

Jonathan Hughes: So another huge demand on your time then, right? So how do you stay organized?

Jariel Ruiz: Planner? I'm mostly like a digital planner. I'm not really a writer, so I just like to write things. I like to type things down, make sure I remember, have a schedule during that time. So when I get out of work, it's depending on what time, I would do a little bit of DoorDash, a little bit of DoorDash, and then I would get home. Just see how I see where I got left, what I can do, and then go on from there.

Jonathan Hughes: We talked about counselors, your high school counselor, and how regularly do you meet with your counselor?

Jariel Ruiz: Sometimes twice a week is guaranteed once a week, because we have a class just straight for college counseling.

Jonathan Hughes: Oh, you have a class as part of your.

Jariel Ruiz: [00:14:00] Yeah.

Jonathan Hughes: You sort of day to day.

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah. Just I think it's every Wednesday. So tomorrow, every Wednesday, we have a college class, whoever needs to work on FSA ID, or someone still behind on, they haven't started FSA ID people are looking at financial plans or people are finalizing like, they're. Final school pick because everybody has to commit by May 1st.

Jonathan Hughes: And is that where you use MEFA Pathway?

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah, I use me probably like during yet during that time to I mostly like just to do college search or what majors the schools have that like I've been accepted to.

Jonathan Hughes: Talking about support that you get at school. We got counselors, we got that class that you just told me, right? Me for pathway. What about other teachers or coaches?

Jariel Ruiz: It's a great support and stuff around me, around Cristo Rey. It's they help with a principal is they're flexible with time for, if you need to put extra work [00:15:00] in if you're down, if you have a fitness class, you you can stay in my room do work, saying like the principal's office to do work.

Jonathan Hughes: Oh, nice.

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah my director, He's a good guy, that's my director. So he helps me out in a lot of things too. My dean I say everybody's a great supporting cast over here, especially the teachers are very vibrant, very opening.

Jonathan Hughes: Now I have to get your impressions of filing applications to colleges like admissions applications and then of course financial aid, especially this year. What was the most challenging? Thing and what advice would you have for other students that are going through this process next year?

Jariel Ruiz: I see writing my essays for getting into the colleges for admissions, because I really wanted to show a different topic because I feel like a lot of people show it, say different, same topic wow, I'm going to be here and I feel like that's so generic because how you're going to get accepted. If you have [00:16:00] everybody's the same answer, you have the same question and everything. So I definitely got very into my, like my life and really impacted that, that page really.

See what I had to talk about. I think what was the topic question? It was a lot of topic questions, but one of my favorites, I think, was it was like, where do you come from? Or like, where do you grow up from? And I I had a I had so much ideas in my head, everything just kept popping.

I was like, oh yeah, like this the one I'm going to just write this down. I got accepted to that school, like literally a week and I was like, okay. I think I actually did all right.

Jonathan Hughes: But you had a lot to say about it. Yeah,

Jariel Ruiz: That's one thing if I have a lot to say that's going to just be plastered on the page, just plastered on the page.

Jonathan Hughes: And what about financially? You talked about FSA IDs and all that stuff. But I have to ask you where are you at with that right now? Because I know. So many people are still stuck in the middle.

Jariel Ruiz: It's so funny. So [00:17:00] I think my mom put her name like wrong by accident. So when we sent him the FSA ID, it didn't match up with her. So she created it. So they're like, oh yeah, we have to send it back. Can y'all edit it? So I'm like, ah, dang. See, now I got to do this over again. I was like, wow, it's okay. I'll just do it. I'll just do it. Just let me.

Jonathan Hughes: So you got to start the good news is everything is later this year anyways, because everyone's delayed.

Jariel Ruiz: Everyone's still haven't completed their stuff. So it's not too much of a, like a mess up, but I don't want to be too behind. When it gets to that time.

Jonathan Hughes: Right, and are you leaning to any particular sort of wrap up? You're almost doing your financial aid. You're at the point. You got acceptances. You made some visits to certain to some campuses. Are you leaning in any particular direction?

Jariel Ruiz: Oh, for sure. I'll say Framingham State. That's definitely what I'm leaning towards more. [00:18:00]

Jonathan Hughes: You don't have to say if you don't want to.

Jariel Ruiz: No, I can say it. For sure, I'll say Framingham State. That's definitely what I'm leaning towards more.

Jonathan Hughes: That's what I thought you were going to say.

Jariel Ruiz: Yeah, when I visited it's big, it's a big campus. Big campus and like literally no one knew me, only four people knew me. And I was from this school and I was like, yeah, this is perfect. This is perfect. This is like what I need. Like I need to have a fresh start, have everything on my, like everything on my head and everything is just straight, straight on.

Jonathan Hughes: I thank you for being here for giving me your time and tell me all that.

Jariel Ruiz: And thank you for putting me on here.

Jonathan Hughes: I know how much everyone enjoyed, having you work with us at MEFA, how much we're going to miss you and wish you the best. So thank you.

Jariel Ruiz: I'll miss y'all more.

Jonathan Hughes: All right. Thank you, Jariel. Oh, that was [00:19:00] awesome. Best of luck to you. We really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your experience. And folks, if you liked what you heard on the show, and you want to hear more from us on planning, saving, and paying for college and career readiness, then by all means follow this show.

And you can of course find us wherever you get your podcasts, and please make sure to leave us a review. Apparently that helps the show. And if you or anyone in your life is thinking about college or researching careers, please tell them about this show. I want to thank Shaun Connolly, our producer, AJ Yee, Lisa Rooney, and Lauren Danz for their assistance in posting the show.

And once again, my name is Jonathan Hughes, and this has been the MEFA Podcast.

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