The Midtown Educational Foundation’s (MEF) 27th Annual Reach for Excellence Dinner provided an electric energy as roughly 450 new and old friends converged at the Four Seasons on a brisk October night. The familial atmosphere was evident to each guest, mirroring the feeling one feels when walking into one of MEF’s centers. As Executive Director, Glenn Wilke, said, “what we teach at the centers, we practice at our events.”
Juan Vasquez, a Midtown alumnus and current member of MEF’s Board of Directors, recently joined the apprentices for an engaging discussion on perseverance toward one’s mission. Juan currently works for CyrusOne, a tech company that builds warehouses to house large servers which handle sensitive and important data.
Over winter break, Midtown and Metro hosted events for their alumni, now in college or recently graduated. It was wonderful to see handfuls of alumni gather together as a community in the places many refer to as their “second home.”
Rebeca Valencia, Metro alum, volunteer and part-time staff member, was featured by My Favorite Outfit as part of their "Women Who Inspire Us" series.
The Metro Advancement Council (MAC) presented a series of professional development workshops for Metro alumnae.
"I was interested in working this summer mainly to give back to a community I support. Metro has a warm and welcoming atmosphere as soon as you walk in the door. The women on staff work very hard to demonstrate individual attention, a care for parent education and respect towards each girl and her intellectual, personal and spiritual development."
Yaa Owusu, Metro Alum and Pediatric Dentist, was featured by the Chicago Community Trust, as part of their "Stories of Philanthropy" series.
Two four-minute features aired on Fox News Channel. They are based on a day-long series of interviews which Kelly Wright conducted at Midtown Center for boys on Friday July 17 & at the Midtown Center Reunion on July 18.
Leo Gomez (‘81) works now at El Milagro as a purchasing specialist and comments, "I love the smell of corn tortillas in the morning." Cesar Martinez (‘93) reports that the annual Tony Herrera-led, bow-and-arrow deer hunting expedition to Galena will take place November 5-8. Besides Tony and Cesar, participants will include Midtown grads Jacinto and Nato Herrera and Juan Moreno. We suggest that non-participants stay as far away from Galena as possible. Luis (‘93) and Nereida Perez had their third child, Penelope, on June 22, 2014, the day after her dad's birthday. Penelope joins Matthew, 10, and Catlina. 14. The family is in Chicago until the fall. Brandon Boler ('01) will be appearing in The Artistic Home's production of Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, which runs from October 5th through November 16th, Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays-Saturdays at 8pm, and Sunday's at 3pm. For more info, see theartistichome.org. The Artistic Home is located at 1376 W Grand. Randy DeVaul (‘01) graduated from Stanford in 2005 with a BA in Communications and worked for five years at Facebook, where he started customer service and helped in diversity recruiting. Returning to Chicago, he worked for an advertising firm but decided his real passion was in teaching. He is now completing his Master degree in Education at Roosevelt, plans to teach high school English, and has returned to Midtown, where he was in programs from 7th grade on, as a tutor. Christian Gauna (‘02) is recently engaged to Elizabeth Wilkie. They plan to marry next spring at St. Mary of the Angels Church. Christian is a grant processor with Dominion Lighting.
Fabian Gauna (‘03), a Notre Dame Law School grad, is a counsel for the Chicago Park District, focusing on but not limited to the labor and employer area. He comments that he is getting a wide range of experience. Tony Vaca (‘04) is engaged to marry Yaritssa Elizalde, his high school sweetheart, on July 25, 2015. Tony works as a lighting efficiency consultant for Twin Lighting. Gilberto Rivera (‘06) is finishing his MBA in Thailand this year and is involved in starting up his own business, which he hopes to continue in the US after his return. Oscar Salgado (‘06) graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. "Right now I am working on an early stage start-up as a product developer. I'm not sure if this will pan out, but I'm very interested in the start-up world." Angel Diaz (‘07) married Clare Skokna at St Mary of the Angels Church on July 12. Angel is now President of Dominion Lighting in the Chicago-land area. Malik Brewley (‘08),who continues to work for Midtown part-time as a data specialist - mostly incorporating scattered paper and digital files into a master database -- has just been hired as a film editor for NCSA Athletic Recruiting, which helps student athletes produce video resumes. Malik received his undergraduate degree in TV production from Columbia College in Chicago.
Having completed his Bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences at Illinois State University, Joseph Clark (‘08) is now a graduate student at Argosy University in Chicago where he studies Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Jose Gaytan (‘08), a graduate of Lane Tech, is finishing his degree in computer engineering at UIC. Victor Gaytan (‘09), also a graduate of Lane Tech, is studying accounting at Northeastern. Amal Torres (‘10) graduated from North Park in May with a degree in Exercise Science and now plans to get a second BA in Medical Studies so that he can apply to Medical School. Alex Ocon (‘12) is working an intern at Soundscape Studios helping to produce singles and albums. Efrain Sotelo (‘13) completed his first year at Marquette where he made the Dean's List in the Business program and played on an intramural basketball team that went undefeated until the playoffs.
Former Midtown journalism and writing instructor Bob Bajek has been nominated to be a Giraffe Hero for his reporting on a downstate Illinois town's possible contamination issues. The Giraffe Heroes Project is a nonprofit, "which honors the risk-takers, people who are largely unknown, people who have the courage to stick their necks out for the common good, in the US and around the world." Bob currently works for NewsLink, "a corporate communication job where I gather and write seven newsletters while traveling the country." Tutor Steve Gorski is now a Senior Associate at The Siegfried Group. Tim Mersch, who has served as a summer advisor and as an assistant instructor in the PR/Journalism apprenticeship, graduates from Miami of Ohio in December and will work as a Development Associate at MEF. Tim spent this past summer in Washington as an intern in the office of House Speaker John Boehner. Ryan Moore, a current tutor, completed his law degree at Chicago-Kent College of Law, where, among other honors, he received CALI Awards for the highest grade in Legal Writing II, Trial Advocacy I & Appellate Advocacy. He is now an Associate at Parrillo, Weiss & O'Halloran.
FIFTY YEARS OLD!
We are looking ahead, of course, to celebrating our 50th anniversary next year and hope you all will be able to participate in some way. We are not a business. Our success is not measured in profits or sales or market share. Rather, it is indicated by the growth - academic, professional, personal -- of all those who have participated as students, staff, sponsors, and volunteers over the years. It is really a celebration of all those who have grown because of Midtown. We'll pass on more information about the celebration when it becomes available.
Best to you all,
Jerry Shepherd, Midtown Director on behalf of the Midtown staff:
Brian Parker, Carlos Martinez, Oscar Calderon, Mike Walsh, Arturo Baranda