When he came to Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park as a freshman four years ago, Kevin Durham said was afraid of public speaking and didn’t think anyone outside of his family cared for him.
Now, the member of Cristo Rey’s class of 2015 said that the supportive community he has found at the school and the work experience he gained during his years there have given him the confidence to be a leader and to pursue his dream of becoming a financial analyst some day.
“It feels like family (here)… It’s like my second home,” Durham said. “The school is great at finding things in you that you didn’t know were there.”
Like all students at Cristo Rey, the 18-year-old Hyattsville resident has participated in the school’s Corporate Work Study Program, where he gained real-world work experience and helped pay for part of his educational costs. Durham worked at Fannie Mae for the past four years. He described his job at the agency’s capital market trading desk as almost like serving as a junior sales associate, as he compiled daily packages summarizing market conditions, to help officials there make better decisions about which mortgage backed securities to buy or sell.
“That’s the reason I want to do finance, because of the exposure I had on the trading desk,” Durham said. “It wasn’t intern work… It was actual work.” He could see traders referring to the information he had compiled, and “it made me feel more connected,” he said.
The formerly shy student served in Cristo Rey’s student government for the past two years, last year as a house representative, and this year as student government treasurer. At the Archdiocesan High School Academic Syposium held recently at The Catholic University of America, Durham gave a presentation on the 2008 financial crisis.
“I don’t think there’s an aspect of the school he’s not involved in,” said Ana Chapa, Cristo Rey’s assistant principal for student life. “He’s a hardworking, intelligent student. He’s one of our top scholars.”
Durham, a member of the National Honor Society at Cristo Rey, has received a full scholarship to attend Georgetown University, where he will study finance.
“When I have time, I go there almost every day,” said Durham, who said he originally didn’t want to attend college in the area, but a visit to Georgetown convinced him otherwise. As he had at Cristo Rey, Durham said he has found a home at Georgetown. “It felt like I belonged there. It reminded me of being here (at Cristo Rey), the school spirit.”