11:25 AM

Coming Full Circle: A Tale of Two Internships

Rising Stars Internship student Yvonne Chavero (left) talks with her UST alumna mentor Pearl Cajoles '04 at the Houston Food Bank.Internships give Rising Star students hands-on experience that reinforces what they learn in the classroom and teaches them invaluable skills such as time management, communication, teamwork and problem-solving. Transversely, the Rising Stars sponsors/employers have an opportunity to build a relationship with the students and prepare future employees.

Yvonne Chavero's Rising Stars Internship

For Yvonne Chavero, a University of St. Thomas-Houston junior who is participating in the Rising Stars Internship Program and working toward earning a B.A. in Business Administration, the program gives her an opportunity to serve as a project manager. She is working at the Houston Food Bank, a nonprofit Rising Stars partner, with alumna and Director of Marketing and Communications, Pearl Cajoles '04.

“It has been great getting to work with someone who shares the Celt experience,” Chavero said. “It is inspiring to learn from someone who was in my shoes not so long ago.

According to Cajoles, Chavero will help advance the mission of the Houston Food Bank through administrative and project management duties. Her primary responsibilities include liaising with the food bank’s Marketing Communications group’s internal and external clients to ensure the fulfillment of MarCom projects from start to finish. The MarCom Department has dozens of concurrent projects each month, and Chavero is working on items that a project manager would typically handle. 

"Yvonne is very much a part of our team;  she is performing and excelling in her project management duties," Cajoles said. "She is invaluable to the success and timelines of our projects and is working closely with HFB staff at all levels. 

"Because excellent communication skills are relevant and important to any career field Yvonne will pursue, it is also important for us to ensure she will sharpen those skills while at the Houston Food Bank." 

In addition to learning the project management side of marketing and communications, Chavero will also learn about the procurement and operational side of food bank operations. Chavero is interested in procurement and would like to work for a big box retailer one day.

My experience has been great!” Chavero said. “I have learned a lot in my short time at HFB. This experience has strengthened my communication skills immensely. The team at HFB have also been very welcoming and great to work with!”

Learn more about the Rising Stars Internship Program and the power of education at work at www.stthom.edu/risingstars. The program provides crucial financial support and meaningful internship opportunities to first-generation students who would otherwise not be able to attend UST. Each participating student is connected to a corporate or nonprofit partner, allowing them to gain valuable experience and earn funds that are directly applied toward their tuition expenses.

Pearl Cajoles Internship Experience

Cajoles, whose parents emigrated to the United States, personally knows the value of an internship and how it influences one’s career. Her internship training provided her with firsthand experience, professional opportunities and personal growth.

During her tenure as a student, she served as a student worker in the UST Public Affairs Office with Director Tom Overton and Assistant Director Sandra Soliz.

"Specifically, my UST internship at the Marketing Communications office helped me become a better writer and communicator," Cajoles said. "Knowing how to craft messages and communicate thoughts effectively and strategically is essential in any career field. Who knew that one day I would assist in messaging for our mayor (while working for the City of Houston) or head communications for one of Houston's most-established nonprofits. 

"Working on the UST newsletter also taught me the importance of deadlines and how to find and develop a story - also very relevant to what I do now. It also helped me develop people skills when I had to do story interviews. 

"Also, having Tom Overton as a mentor helped me land my first real job in my dream field at the time – journalism," she said. "When I was looking for a job after graduation, Tom sent me an e-mail connecting me to the hiring manager of the Katy Courier (a former daily newspaper). The experiences from that job led me to be hired at the Houston Chronicle, where I spent many formative years professionally and personally."

Cajoles also credits the value of excellent academic education and the professors who taught and mentored her at  UST’s Communication Department (Prof. Nicole Casarez, Dr. Robin Williamson, Dr. Livia Bornigia)." She also served as a writer and features editor for the Cauldron, UST’s student-run newspaper under the advisement of Prof. Casarez.

Coming Full Circle, Fulfilling Dreams

"My immigrant parents moved to Houston to provide a better life for me and my brother," Cajoles said. "Part of their American dream was to see their children succeed through all that stems from an excellent education.

"My mentors and my internship at UST gave me the foundation to thrive in my career journey, and I am so thankful," she said. "The chance to pay it forward with Yvonne, someone with a similar background, has meant the world to me. I hope her time at the Houston Food Bank will help her fulfill her dreams, just like my time at UST did for me."