$2.7 million in scholarships

Not your ordinary graduation: Rich Kinder's surprise speech ushers in first Cristo Rey grads

Not your ordinary graduation: Rich Kinder's speech surprises grads

1010 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Father T.J. Martinez, Nancy Kinder, Rich Kinder
Father T.J. Martinez, left, with Nancy and Rich Kinder at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1020 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Oscar Melgar, Martin Moreno, Nereida Anguiano, Stephanie Anguiano
Oscar Melgar, from left, Martin Moreno, Nereida Anguiano and Stephanie Anguiano at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Killy Chavez/CatchLightGroup.com
1016 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Tony Martinez, Lisa Turano
Tony Martinez and Lisa Turano at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Killy Chavez/CatchLightGroup.com
1018 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Ron Martin, Lupe Fraga
Trustees Ron Martin, left, and Lupe Fraga at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Killy Chavez/CatchLightGroup.com
1015 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Jacque Branda, Irene Fraga
Jacque Branda, left, and Irene Fraga at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Killy Chavez/CatchLightGroup.com
1001 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Trini Mendenhall-Sosa, Frank Sosa
Trini Mendenhall-Sosa and Frank Sosa at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1007 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, Andres Salgado
ARchbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, left, and Andres Salgado at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1002 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Joe Turano, Lucia Warden, David Warden
Joe Turano, left, with Lucia and David Warden at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1008 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Seniors tossing their caps
Seniors tossing their caps at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation, held at Bayou Music Center. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1006 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 John O'Shea, Charlene O'Shea
John and Charlene O'Shea at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1000 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Sofia Adrogue, Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza
Sofia Adrogué and Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1004 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 A.R. "Tony" Sanchez Jr.
Tony Sanchez Jr. at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1014 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Christian Ante, Jodie De La Cruz
Proud graduatees Christian Ante and Jodie De La Cruz at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1011 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Bee Dickson, Nora Kean, Reverend T.J. Martinez, SJ, Katherine Cater, Jacquelyn Olexa
Bee Dickson, from left, Nora Kean, Father T.J. Martinez, Katherine Cater and Jacquelyn Olexa at the Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
1010 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Father T.J. Martinez, Nancy Kinder, Rich Kinder
1020 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Oscar Melgar, Martin Moreno, Nereida Anguiano, Stephanie Anguiano
1016 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Tony Martinez, Lisa Turano
1018 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Ron Martin, Lupe Fraga
1015 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Jacque Branda, Irene Fraga
1001 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Trini Mendenhall-Sosa, Frank Sosa
1007 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, Andres Salgado
1002 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Joe Turano, Lucia Warden, David Warden
1008 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Seniors tossing their caps
1006 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 John O'Shea, Charlene O'Shea
1000 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Sofia Adrogue, Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza
1004 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 A.R. "Tony" Sanchez Jr.
1014 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Christian Ante, Jodie De La Cruz
1011 Cristo Rey Jesuit graduation June 2013 Bee Dickson, Nora Kean, Reverend T.J. Martinez, SJ, Katherine Cater, Jacquelyn Olexa

Four years after the launch of Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School, 60 students and two adults proudly received degrees from the institution that educates economically-disadvantaged young people. Nancy and Rich Kinder, who gifted the school with $1 million in 2009, were the first to receive their degrees — albeit honorary — from school president Father T.J. Martinez.

Saturday's ceremony at Bayou Music Center was remarkable on several fronts, the first of which was that each of the graduates has been accepted into college, ranging from Rice University to Georgetown University to Texas A&M. And despite living at or below the federal poverty line, this senior class has earned a cumulative $2.7 million in college scholarships.

Secondly, Nancy Kinder was the first woman in 166 years to receive an honorary Jesuit high school degree in the Jesuit Southern Province.

The celebrations began early with Armando Palacios hosting the entire senior class to Armandos for a special lunch celebration on Thursday. On Saturday, a pre-graduation reception was held for major donors and founding members on the music center's second-floor lobby overlooking the stage. Cristo Rey board of trustees and commencement speaker, Rich Kinder, donned their robes at the reception as 1,500 family members, corporate work-study sponsors and donors filled the venue.

Among those gathering at the reception were Martinez' father Brownsville mayor Tony Martinez, Raye White, Jacque and Brian Branda, Lisa and Joe Turano, David Harvey, Irene and Lupe Fraga, Trini Mendenhall-Sosa and Frank Sosa, Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, Charlene and John O'Shea, Lucia and David Warden and Sofia Adrogué.

Among the valuable and occasionally entertaining offerings in Kinder's commencement speech:

"Father Martinez is Houston's newest source of natural energy, and at Kinder Morgan, we are figuring out the best way to get him through our pipelines!" 

"I've made more mistakes in my life by thinking too small than by thinking too big."

The school's unique structure resulted in the students earning more than $1.6 million over the past four years through Cristo Rey's corporate work-study program, monies that help pay for their college prep high school education. The students work for the city's leading businesses at entry level positions thereby gaining valuable work experience in addition to earning tuition dollars.