Together We…Support the Community

Cristian Arias joined the Southeast Los Angeles County Region family just this year but even in that short time, he has contributed so much to the growth and success of the region. Cristian is a Quality Assurance Coach supporting Compton Unified School District high schools and the Bellflower school district but has also worked as a Program Leader, Site Coordinator and Program Coordinator in the San Gabriel Valley Region. His desire to support and provide the best possible programming for our students is sincere and genuine. Watching him interact with the students, it’s clear he loves his work and sees the value in what our programs offer. He changes the odds for kids every day and does so in every way he can. We are thrilled to give you the chance to get to know him as well!

What is your Think Together “why?” What inspired you to work at Think Together and what continues to inspire your work here?
The parents, guardians, and families are my “why.” Both of my parents worked two full-time jobs to provide for my siblings and me. I know how much my mom and dad appreciated the important work that the staff running these programs provided us. Every time I’m at a site now and I’m around for sign-out time, I get to see the parent, child, and site coordinator interaction. I see a little bit of my mom, dad, and grandma (whoever was going to pick me up that day) in the site’s parents.

What is one thing your team accomplished this school year that made you proud? What were some challenges, and what were some successes?
I’m really proud of the fact all of my teams have been able to stick together. We haven’t had too much turnover. All of the sites I supervise have great team chemistry and culture, and that has translated over to our students.

Is there a student story that has stuck with you?
A couple of years ago, when I was a Site Coordinator at the high schools in San Gabriel Valley region, we awarded a Think Scholarship to one of our student leaders. We held a zoom call including the student’s parents to let them know they were awarded the scholarship. The student was grateful, but their mom was in tears because of how appreciative she was of the award. She was a single mother who was going through a hard time that first year of COVID. She wasn’t sure how she was going to be able to support her daughter who was recently accepted into her dream 4-year university.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you like to share with others?
“You manage things and lead people” is a good one. I’m a big basketball fan so I appreciate any good John Wooden quotes or philosophy. If you take the time to genuinely care about your team, they’ll take the time to care or invest the time back into the coach they play for or in our case, the organization they work for. I have had some really great leaders who sincerely cared about my development, so I want to do my best and return the favor.

What do you hope students will take with them as they graduate high school?
I want students to realize that there are people here to help them throughout their journey. There are so many people that are put in places to help them succeed. Teachers, counselors, mentors, afterschool professionals … all want them to graduate and do great things. Students have to take the first step and ask for support.

What are your 2022 professional goals?
I want to continue developing my leadership with the organization. I am always looking to learn from like-minded individuals that have similar passions as myself. There are plenty of people to learn from here at Think Together. I also want to go back to school and enroll in a Master’s program in Human Development.

Outside of work, what do you do for fun?
I mostly hang out with my fiancé and cat. I also enjoy taking long power naps, visiting local eateries/breweries, and watching the Lakers dominate. I’ve also recently started becoming a DIY guy for random projects around the house. 

Cristian, thank you for being a part of Think Together!