Former RDF Intern Serves the Community: Meet Christian Serrano
The RDF Familia is proud to cheer on and reconnect with Christian Serrano, a former RDF intern. Christian recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. Today, he is a full-time ESL instructor for Promise Arizona (PAZ), a nonprofit organization that now resides in RDF’s new headquarters. In his new position, Christian is leading classes right here in our building!
Mentorship at RDF
In 2018, Christian, then a sophomore in college, began an internship with RDF to explore his interests in communications. For two years, he enjoyed learning about social media, planning graphics with the Communications team, understanding all the different aspects of community development and traveling to UnidosUS conferences in D.C. and San Diego.
“The opportunity to travel was extraordinary. It was a great personal and professional experience. The exposure you get to all of these different people, projects and places it really builds your character and it can build your confidence.” Christian says. “I’m a shy person, so having to open up at talk to people, even making a simple phone call to somebody I didn’t know, seemed like a daunting task. Those little things really prepared me for more now that I moved on from RDF.”
While strengthening his skills, Christian also received great mentorship from the RDF Familia to help him on his path to success.
“Tom (RDF’s President & CEO) took the time to see where I was and how I was doing. Even people outside of the department helped me along the way and showed a willingness to teach me different skills,” he says. “That was a unique thing that I found at RDF.”
The RDF Familia even helped him find the right professional journey. During his internship, Christian was pondering the best major – something between global studies and liberal arts. However, Elvira Espinoza, RDF’s Chief Communications Officer, knew he enjoyed writing and digging into stories, so she encouraged him to enroll in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications bachelors program.
“Cronkite is the best place to learn to write and grow your communications skills. He is very smart and we’re very proud of him,” Elvira says.
It was the perfect fit for him. While there at Cronkite, Christian had the opportunity to cover a report on Cronkite Noticias, which aired on Univision. He wrote and published articles for the program’s Cronkite News Service, one of which mentioned RDF as an organization supporting small businesses.
“He has matured so much and is really finding himself.,” says Star Reyes, RDF’s Client Services Manager, Christian’s intern supervisor.
Serving the Community
While wrapping up his bachelor’s degree, Christian decided he wanted to use his expert communication skills to serve his community and added an ESL teaching certification to his repertoire.
Luckily, thanks to the RDF network, Christian was already connected with Petra Falcon, Executive Director of Promise Arizona (PAZ) – an organization that provides ESL classes.
After starting as a part-time instructor to complete his certification, Christian is now working at PAZ full-time. He administers the ESL program managing its methods and techniques, helps to manage the Zoom sessions for classes and recruits volunteers for the organization.
“I enjoy the experience to see my students grow and break these barriers. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of the job,” Christian says. “We provide a quality educational experience for people so they can use it in their lives, personally and professionally.”
As a son of Nicaraguan immigrants, Christian teaches with patience because he knows how difficult it can be to learn English and how important these classes are for his students.
“It requires a lot of discipline and a lot of perseverance to learn English. I understand that,” he says. “In so many of my students, I see my dad or my mom, my aunt, my grandparents that came here who struggled to learn the language. They’re all starting a new chapter in their life and it’s very difficult barrier when you don’t know the language.”
Christian hopes to bring his passion for teaching abroad to explore and impact different countries and communities for many years to come. In the meantime, the RDF Familia is happy to have him in our offices once again.
“I’ve learned to find enjoyment and gratitude in everything and anything I can. Experiences sometimes seem like they don’t directly feed into our overall plan, but in some way, they tend to guide us into the right path,” Christian says.