Midtown Spring 2015 Alumni Newsletter

Dear Midtown Alumnus,

50 Years Young!! As you’ll see from the special logo on the right, we are in the midst of celebrating our 50th anniversary and hope you will be able to join us at one of our alumni activities in the next few months. Upcoming activities specifically for alumni include the 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament on Saturday, May 30; the Alumni Family Cookout on Saturday, June 20, and the annual Reconnect Party in the fall.  A special Old-Timers Reunion at 718 S. Loomis, the original site of Midtown and now the offices of MEF, will take place on Saturday, July 18. These and other upcoming MEF events that you might be interested in are listed below.

Upcoming Events

Golf for the Kids Outing

Old Timers Reunion (Graduating High School Before 1996)

3 on 3 Basketball Tournament

Alumni Family Cookout

  • Saturday, June 20, 4PM-7PM
  • Midtown Center


New Website: Our website has gotten a facelift and is easier than ever to navigate. See especially the 50th anniversary page, which features video profiles of MEF alumni, one from each decade since Midtown began.

Summer Programs: Preparation for the summer programs, which begin in late June, are in full gear.  We offer the following this summer:

I wanted to thank the program for helping me with my grades. I went from F, F, F, D, C, F to A, A, A, B, A, A. Thank you so much for letting me in the program with really bad grades!
— Midtown Student
  • The 4th-6th grade program features regular classes in Language Arts, Math, Science, Test Prep, and Character, plus sports periods and several field trips.  (This program is full.)
  • 7th, 8th, and 9th grade programs offer a half day of academic and character classes, a half day of sports instruction and competition, and individual advising, career speakers, weekly field trips, and optional electives.
  • 10th, 11th and 12th grade program includes on-site apprenticeships in Architecture, Business, Engineering, Law, and Public Relations/Journalism plus character classes, individual advising, field trips, and career speakers.
  • Daily group parenting sessions plus several larger program-specific evening meetings and the opportunity for individual and family consultation.

We invite alumni to help in one of the following ways (or in others you may suggest):

  • If applicable, having your son or sons of relatives and friends apply to a Midtown summer program or Metro for girls summer program.
  • Volunteering or asking others to volunteer as career speakers for the students (email jshepherd@midtown-metro.org).
  • Contributing and/ or getting others to contribute to help defray the costs


My son had a wonderful time during the school year program and I am very pleased with the positive morals he’s received from the program, but most importantly from [his tutor]. He has truly inspired [my son] to keep improving and to also focus on respectfulness at home. I am looking forward to what this summer may bring and to the next school year program!
— Midtown Mother

VOLUNTEERISM LIVES!:  Thanks once again to all alumni who volunteered this past semester as tutors in the One-on-One program and advisors for the older students, as career speakers, as club teachers, as members of the Board, the Midtown Advancement Council, the Auxiliary Board, and the Alumni Representatives, as contributors, and in so many other ways.  Your help is indispensable!

NEEDED: ALUMNI REPS:  Currently, we are looking for candidates to fill vacancies on our Alumni Representatives Board.  Alumni reps are graduates of the program who appreciate their Midtown experience, have made good friends here, and want to contribute to keeping the tradition going and expanding. 

We're looking for a commitment from our reps for two years (renewable) to the following responsibilities:

  1. Helping us reconnect with and stay in contact with other Midtown grads of their era.
  2. Acting as a liaison between alumni and the center for ideas and information about mutually beneficial activities and opportunities
  3. Working to create and organize alumni events and encourage fellow alumni to attend.

Current reps are Leo Gomez II (‘81), Rene Velazquez (‘82), Cesar Martinez (‘93), Rafael Padilla (‘95), Leo Gomez III (‘06), and Gabe Avalos (‘09). Chris Michaels serves as coordinator of activities. As you’ll notice we have gaps in the 70’s, late 80’s, and late 90’s.  If you’d like to join this august company -- especially if you graduated in those gap years -- email jshepherd@midtown-metro.org. Finally, we’d like to thank Christian Gauna (‘02) and Jorge Ramirez (‘87), who were particularly involved during their stints as reps.

ROAD TRIP ‘15: During the high school spring break, Mike Walsh and Sam Dever led a dozen COP students on the annual university tour.  This year’s trip took them away from the cold with stops in St. Louis, Houston, and New Orleans. Read more here! Next time you’re at Midtown, check out the map on the second floor of the past several trips.

Sports and Camaraderie: A goodly group of alumni and tutors joined us in the Midtown Man Cave (aka living room) to watch the NCAA Finals on April 6.  We had hoped to get the May 2 Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing match for the center, but it proved too costly.  Instead, we arranged through our friends at Cortland’s Garage to host a party of 30 in reserved seating for the price of dinner and a few refreshments.  Despite varying opinions on the fight, all had much fun seeing old friends and meeting new acquaintances.

MIDTOWN ADVANCEMENT COUNCIL: On March 19, Aylwin Lewis, the CEO of Potbelly Sandwich Works, gave an inspiring talk to 100 guests at the Breakfast for Champions, which MAC helped organize and which William Blair & Company facilitated and hosted.  We look forward to having Mr. Lewis, who will be one of the honorees at the Annual Dinner, address our students this summer. MAC helps Midtown by helping to arrange such events, by fostering new apprenticeships, and by seeking career speakers for the students. 


Rene Velazquez (‘82) is currently Director of Compensation Solutions with IMA Financial Group in Denver and is helping them expand their business from insurance and benefits brokers to Human Capital/Compensation Consultants.  Rene earned his undergraduate degree from DePaul University in Accountancy (‘88) and his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management in Management & Strategy and Human Resources (‘94). Since graduating from the Kellogg School, Rene has managed the HR functions for leading Fortune 500 companies in Oil & Gas, and the Manufacturing and Quick Service Restaurant sectors.  He has been married for fifteen years and has two children, Nicholas (13) and Marina (10).  Moises Perez (‘89), a graduate of Quigley South, earned his BS in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and currently works for Woodward MPC in Aerospace Electronics as an electrical engineer designing and producing electromechanical actuation systems for the aerospace industry.  He is married with three children, and his wife is also an engineer.

Albert Pardilla (‘90) is now the Manager of Marketing Automation at RR Donnelley. Anand Menezes (‘91) attended UIUC and then John Marshall Law School and currently uses his law degree as a Litigation management auditor for Zurich North America insurance.  He tutored in One on One this year.  Larry Walton (‘93) works for Comcast as an HFB coax technical supervisor. He is also pursuing a Masters in Occupational Therapy. Rafael Pardilla (‘95) is now a Compliance Officer in the Medical Devices division at the FDA.

Sircedrick Liggens (‘05) graduated from DeLaSalle and went on to obtain his BA in Film from DePaul. He has worked as a content producer for the Latino on-line cultural magazine Gozmos. Vinny Paz (‘05), a graduate of St. Benedict High School, is finishing up a degree in 3-D animation at DePaul and will be looking for full-time work in game design and film.  He has made several animated shorts as a student and hopes to continue these artistic endeavors.  Angel (‘06) and Clare Diaz had their first child, Fatima Rose, on April 15. Leo Gomez (‘06) is now a project manager for Telnyx in Chicago.  Telnyx “provides a cloud-based platform that offers access to carrier grade voice services over the internet.” Gustavo Quinteros (‘07) graduated from Mather High School and is studying education at Northeastern with a focus on physical education and health. He is also a realtor for Baird and Warner. “I had a great experience at Midtown having gone through the ranks from 4th grade through junior year.”  Luis Paz (‘08), a St. Benedict graduate, completed his degree in industrial organizational psychology at DePaul in 2013 and now works for Johnson Controls in third-party, logistics controls. Iram Ruiz (‘08) graduated from Providence College, where he majored in chemistry.  He currently is a chemist for Regis Technology, which “partners with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to help expedite drugs to market.” Iram served this year as a tutor in the One on One program which he once attended.

We heard over and over again how important the virtues class is to the kids, and they really seem to be living it! … Several of them also described Midtown/Metro as a second home! It warms my heart to be involved with this program and to meet and talk with these young people. They are mature beyond their years due in no small part to what the program provides to them.
— MEF Scholarship Donor

Arian Garcia (‘09) has completed his second year of architectural studies at IIT and also played on the school’s intercollegiate basketball team.  He will be returning to Midtown this summer for his second year as the assistant instructor in the Architecture apprenticeship. After graduating from DeLaSalle, where, among other activities, he was captain of the boxing team for two years, Khafre Liggens (‘09) earned his BFA in Illustration at the American Academy of Art (2013) and is now a freelance illustrator.  His current projects include working on a children’s book and producing, writing, and directing an upcoming Web series, “Dead Are We,” a classic horror comedy.  Hermann Johnson (‘12) has just completed his junior year at Western Illinois University, where he is majoring in Computer Science and minoring in French and maintains a 3.6 GPA.  He has been applying and looking for internships.

Winston Richards (‘15) is graduating from Fryeburg Academy Boarding School in Maine where he has played football and basketball and participated in the American Foreign Service Intercultural Ghana Summer Community Program in Accra. He is a former HighSight scholar and participant in the Philipps Exeter Academy Summer Bissell Program. Former tutor Saul Herrera is currently a patrol officer with the Bensenville Police Department.  He attended UIC, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Criminology. Matthias Andrews, a 2011 advisor, is now a Business Intelligence Developer (QlikView Specialization) at iQdecisions.

That’s it for now!  Be in touch if you’d like to help or need help.  We hope to see you soon!

Best to you all,

Jerry Shepherd, Midtown Director on behalf of the Midtown staff: Brian Parker, Carlos Martinez, Oscar Calderon, Mike Walsh, and Arturo Baranda