Lorena Llano Against The Odds

Lorena Llano Against The Odds
Posted on 11/23/2014
Llorena Llano

Going to college is perhaps the single best financial decision a young adult can make. But, there’s a catch:  you have to do the work and graduate.

When Lorena Llano was considering options for high school, she said, “For me, finding the right high school wasn’t on my mind. It was just another grade level.”

Lorena was born in Mexico City and arrived in the United States when she was two-years-old. Her parents sent her to Holy Cross School, and Lorena remembers translating for them at parent-teacher conferences.

“My mom and dad did not have the opportunity to go to high school, so my education was very important to them,” said Lorena.  “Teachers at Holy Cross encouraged them to visit Cristo Rey Kansas City, and the teachers and staff of Cristo Rey made them feel welcome.”

Lorena had always been a good student, so she was not scared to join Cristo Rey’s freshman class in 2007. But, it was just another grade level for a young woman who kept going. Throughout her four years in high school, Lorena nurtured her natural skills in Math and “fell in love with working” when assigned to work one day per week at Bishop Sullivan Center for her Corporate Work Study assignment. She later worked at City Hall, UMB and KU Medical Center. 

Lorena also fell in love with the idea of going to college. “My teachers were constantly asking me, ‘Where do you see yourself after high school, Lorena? What do you want to study in college?’”

So, once again, entering college was, ‘just another grade level.’ As a student at Johnson County Community College, Lorena started out believing that she would become a nurse.  Once she transferred to Rockhurst University, she went back to her strengths and pursued accounting. And, she gave back. She volunteered to prepare income tax filings for low-income clients of Operation Breakthrough. Observing that with Math, “there is always an answer, and I liked that,” she said.

In her final semester as an undergraduate, Lorena is taking 21 hours. When she receives her degree – in three-and-a-half years - she will immediately begin work on a Master’s Degree.  

At Cristo Rey, Lorena learned to work to learn and learn to work. “At Cristo Rey, there was no hand-holding. My teachers had adult expectations for me,” said Lorena.

In January, she will begin an internship in the tax accounting division at McGladrey. With degree in hand, a plan to continue her education, and the goal of becoming a certified public accountant, Lorena has beat the statistical odds that many studies predicted would define her future.

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