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Photo of Marley Christian by Akeelah Christian,
freshman, CRJHS Twin Cities

Hometown: Brooklyn Center, in the northwest corner of Minneapolis

School: Cristo Rey Jesuit High Twin Cities (current sophomore)

Passion: Music and the cello

How did you select Cristo Rey Twin Cities?

When representatives from Cristo Rey came to my Catholic grade school, I knew right away. They said they had a 100 percent graduation rate, and that really caught my attention. I double-checked with a guy in my neighborhood who was a senior there, and he told me it was true and gave me some good advice. After I visited, I knew it was the place for me. I felt a sense of belonging, and the community was great. I didn’t know what a Jesuit was when I first went to Cristo Rey. I had never heard of St. Ignatius. It’s hard to believe I know so much more now compared to when I came, especially about life. Father John Paul, SJ, has really influenced me. We had a great conversation that sticks with me. I remember him asking me what it means to be a follower, and whether that would be a good thing? Wow. It really got me thinking. Now my younger sister Akeelah attends Cristo Rey. I like seeing her have the same great experience.

Where have your work-study assignments been?

I started as a freshman at the Peter Claver Center as a teacher’s assistant; now as a sophomore, I work for Accenture. Due to COVID-19, I work from home, which is a lot more difficult, but the people there are great, and it’s working out.

How did you get interested in the cello?

I saw a violinist in my neighborhood who inspired me. Then I started with the violin. In second grade, I picked up the cello, and it’s become my main passion, maybe because I got pretty good at it. I started with a group in grade school, and now there’s only three of us who still play, but we really like to practice and work together. They are more than just my music group—we basically grew up together! There was one year where we just blossomed! We are not able to gather due to COVID-19, but we practice together online. Last year I received the Roderick Cox Music Initiative scholarship for musical studies at the MacPhail Center for Music, and that’s made me want to try even harder. MacPhail is a lot like Cristo Rey—a community, and more than just a school. Today I’m playing with the Minnesota Northside Youth Orchestra (MNYO), with the Cristo Rey orchestra, which is getting better, and with the Northside Choir. I also play the viola (as does my sister), violin, drums, and percussion

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