The word means so much for parents of students who attend Verbum Dei High School, a Jesuit college preparatory school for young men who live in the Watts area.

Edwin Reyes, 17, a senior at Verbum Dei and one of 10 student interns at Edison International, did not know what to expect when he arrived at the blue gates of the school during his freshman year. 

“My mom heard about the school, and its 100 percent graduation rate, and next thing you know, I was enrolled,” he said. “It gave my parents hope. Hope for a better future.” 

“Working at Edison has taught me how to behave professionally and how to present in front of people,” added Reyes. “I used to get nervous, but now I feel I have a voice.”

Verbum Dei High School serves young men living in South Los Angeles who are economically and academically underserved. One of the school’s main attractions is its corporate internship program.

Since 2006, Edison International has been part of the school’s Corporate Work Study Program, which provides mentorship and develops students’ skill sets. From presentation to leadership skills, employees teach students what it means to work in the corporate environment.

Educational access for underserved, underrepresented students is a key funding priority for Edison,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy and Community Investment at Southern California Edison (SCE), a subsidiary of Edison International. “We believe educated youth have the power to change their lives, their communities and the world.”  

Verbum Dei High School was founded in 1962 by Bishop Joseph Francis and his companion Society of the Divine Word Missionaries. Currently, there are about 320 students at the school; 50 percent are African-American and 50 percent are Hispanic. The school boasts a 100 percent success rate for its seniors going on to attend college.

“Students are learning in the classroom, and they are also receiving hands-on training at work and are learning to be young professionals who are mature and responsible,” said Cristina Cuellar-Villanueva, director of the Verbum Dei Corporate Work Study Program.

Ryan Delgadillo, 18, is a senior at the school and an intern at Edison. His experience in the school’s work study program has taught him the power of community. 

“It has taught me that people I don’t know care about me and I’m grateful for that,” he said. “I’ve learned the value of gratitude and to always be thankful for everything I have.” 

Reyes and Delgadillo are planning to attend college next fall. Reyes is applying to the University of Southern California to study computer engineering and Delgadillo is looking at Loyola Marymount to study humanitarian law

The two seniors shared words of encouragement for their younger classmates.

“Although it may be tough and challenging, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone,” said Delgadillo. “Never give up and take advantages of your resources.”

Added Reyes: “Pursue you goals and keep laser-like focus in school. Never lose hope.”