By KEVIN DEVLIN
Zujeiri Ruiz is a polite, young lady who enjoys working as a junior staff member with younger children at the Joseph M. Tierney Learning Center.
Zujeiri, 15, is the daughter of Zujeiri Ortega. She has four brothers, Carlos Arias, Oscar Ruiz, Yandiel Ruiz and Rubin Miranda. She also has a gray and black cat named Missy.
Zujeiri is a freshman at Excel High School which is located up at the Heights, a school dedicated to “foster academic achievement and creative expression.” Her favorite subject is math and someday she hopes to be a pediatrician.
At the center, Zujeiri works with the cadets, all six-year-olds. She helps the kids with their homework, and plays games with them. When the sun is shining, she takes the kids across the street to Moakley Park where they can run around and have fun at the playground. She enjoys working with the kids; to her it is fun.
“I’m a hard worker,” she said. “I have my problems just like everyone else but always love to work with a smile on my face and ready to help the kids at the center. I’m also a caring person. I watched my mom raise my brothers and I want to be just like her helping others.”
And she certainly loves challenging her kids to work hard every day.
“I want them to develop skills,” Zujeiri said. “I want them to strive and finish their own homework without copying other kid’s work. I challenge them to do it on their own all the time. I encourage them to ask questions so I know what’s on their mind… so I can help them with any issues they may have…any problems that are bothering them.
“I also encourage them to improve on their manners,” she said. “A lot of the kids need to realize that they need to be polite when dealing with other people outside of their family and that they must work to get better at doing this on a daily basis.”
Zujeiri is well-liked by Tierney Center staff and seemingly has a found a second home.
“She’s such a great role model and a great helper for the cadet’s age group,” said Victoria Siddel, a Tierney Center youth case worker. “They look up to her and love having her around.”
Lauretta Brennan, the center’s membership coordinator and usually the first person you see when you enter the building, is also enthusiastic about her junior staffer.
“Zujeiri’s doing really well at work,” Brennan said. “She’s a great addition to the program and we are proud of her for being such a good person and being an extremely hard worker who the kids love so much.”