Arrupe Jesuit High students learn skills at Secretary of State’s office

Dinell, an Arrupe Jesuit High School student who has a work study job at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Who knew that when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited Arrupe Jesuit High School last year to present a voter registration award it would lead to reducing a backlog at the SOS this year?

During the visit to the north Denver school, Williams learned that Arrupe Jesuit offers students a unique corporate work study program where students are employed at a variety of places, including nonprofits, law firms and health centers. The Secretary of State’s office decided to participate.

Darleen Herrera, an investigator in the Colorado Secretary of State’s bingo-raffle division, and Jamilee, a work study student from Arrupe Jesuit High School. (SOS photo)

That’s how Dinell and Jamilee, freshmen at Arrupe, ended up at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office working under the supervision of Shannon Bee, the bingo-raffle program manager.

The pair has gained skills in data entry and verifying scanned documents. Their salaries from the state go toward their tuition.

“It’s been rewarding to work in a state agency and make sure that the people of Colorado are served efficiently,” Dinell said. “The work I’ve done for the past few months has set the office ahead a whole year.”

That’s because the two have been able to reduce a backlog that was creating problems, said Gary Zimmerman, the Secretary of State’s chief of staff. If documents aren’t scanned and entered into the system they can’t be quickly searched.

“Thanks to these Arrupe Jesuit students, we have continued to improve the customer service that the Williams administration has provided to the public,” Zimmerman said.

Arrupe Jesuit High School freshman Dinell with Shannon Bee, the Colorado Secretary of State’s bingo/raffle program manager. (SOS photo)

Jamilee said the work study program is why she decided to attend Arrupe Jesuit. Next spring, she will work for the Colorado House of Representatives giving tours of the magnificent Capitol.

Dinell hopes to one day enter the medical field.

“I really enjoy working with Shannon and gaining real world experience. Being in an office setting has taught me a lot and I hope to build on these experiences in the future,” Dinell said.

Williams was at Arrupe Jesuit in November 2017 to present the Secretary of State’s Eliza Pickrell Routt award, which is given to high schools where more than 85 percent of eligible seniors register to vote.

“I couldn’t be happier with how this has turned out for our office and for these students,” Williams said. “They’re great employees. They show up on time, they get their work done, there is no drama.”

“They’re just good kids.”

The partner organizations that hire Arrupe students apparently agree — in the last school year 96 percent of the students received a rating of good, very good or outstanding by their work supervisors.

Kim Smith, the director of philanthropy at Arrupe, said all 430 students at the Catholic school participate in the work study program.  Arrupe works with 142 partner organizations, and students work at least five days a month at their jobs.

“This work study program,” Jamilee said, “prepares me for the future.”