By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – Yanni Cabrera is a confident and smart high school senior ready to take on the world. But, she wasn’t always like this, “I used to be afraid of adults. Can’t even lie,” she says with an easy smile.

She can laugh about it now because Yanni has found her voice at Boston’s Cristo Rey High School. Along with all the traditional classes, Cristo Rey puts their students to work… real work.

READ MORE: UMass Memorial Health In Worcester Runs Out Of ICU Beds

On Tuesdays, Yanni, checks in at the school first thing in the morning and then takes the T to her job at the Seaport Hotel. Yanni spends five days a month at the Seaport Hotel, sharing a full time job with three other Cristo Rey students. It is part of a school-wide work study program giving all students hands-on work experience. It also helps pay for a private catholic school education.

The school has partnered with 130 local companies to offer a wide range of work studies including hospitals, financial firms, retail stores, and hotels. “The work study program is often the first reason both students and families give for why they’ve chosen Cristo Rey,” says the school’s principal, Beth Degnan.

READ MORE: Shakeel Bodden Charged With Murder In Stabbing Death Of Sister's Boyfriend At Somerville Home

Cristo Rey exclusively serves low-income families in Boston. The companies pay for about 60% of the students’ tuition. Fundraising by the school makes up another 30%. And students and their families have to pay for the rest, usually about $900.

From office work to school work, Yanni is learning so much more than what’s in the pages of any text book. “I expected to feel little when I started working and my expectations were definitely broken,” she says. “I actually feel big. I feel like an adult.”

Cristo Rey tells us every single senior has been accepted to a four year college or university for the last five years in a row. Yanni is in the process of touring colleges right now.

MORE NEWS: Massachusetts Reports 5,179 New COVID Cases; More Than 1,000 Now Hospitalized

[display-posts category=”local” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”4?”]

Paula Ebben