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An Opportunity to be MORE Jeffrey James Keyes '98

Jeffrey James Keyes ’98 has an undergrad from Fordham University and a master’s from Columbia University. He co-wrote a NY Times best-selling novel, Killer Chef, with James Patterson.

In November, he won an inaugural PEN America / L’Engle-Rahman Prize for Mentorship* for his work with incarcerated writers.

The PEN America/L’Engle Rahman Prize for Mentorship honors four mentor/mentee pairs in PEN America’s longstanding prison writing mentorship program, which links established writers with those currently incarcerated.

At 40 years old, he has achieved more success than most. But his path could have been very different...

After completing his freshman year at a different high school, he was told that he likely shouldn’t bother applying to any UW System schools as he wouldn’t get accepted. His grades were terrible. He felt lost and unmotivated. He and his parents met with a counselor at Pius XI who told them that Jeffrey belonged in Advanced Placement classes. He wasn’t incapable of academic success — he simply wasn’t being challenged.

“Pius XI empowered me and challenged me, and truly made me who I am. The people at Pius XI gave me the opportunity to see that I had within me what I need to be successful, go to college, and pursue my dreams. I am so grateful,” said Jeffrey.

His time at Pius XI was an exploration of all things. A renaissance education. Science. Creative Writing. Photography. Painting. Sculpture. Choir. Theater. He excelled at all of it. As a senior, he debated studying Biochemistry, Theater or Visual Art. Ultimately, he was most drawn to theater.

Pius XI Blackbox Theater

Today, Jeffrey is an interdisciplinary artist, a playwright, a script writer for television, and is passionate about his work with people in prison.

I’M A VERY PROUD ALUM, AND I’M VERY HAPPY THAT I WENT TO PIUS XI. I WISH I WOULD HAVE BEEN THERE ALL FOUR YEARS - Jeffrey James Keyes '98

How many children don’t pursue their dreams or use their God-given gifts because they believe they aren’t “good enough” or “smart enough”? Today’s entrepreneurs, scientists, writers, business leaders, performers and artists were once students who were EMPOWERED to reach higher.

Pius XI teachers, coaches, counselors and staff not only recognize and celebrate the innate gifts of our students, but they compassionately prepare them for the path ahead. We have over 700 students in our care today who we believe in, support and encourage. We hope that when they leave Pius XI, they have a strong sense of self and purpose, as well as a solid faith on which they can draw strength.

And we hope they use their gifts to change the lives of others...