The real test of a high school education is how it plays out afterward. CAN graduates are successful, hardworking, and are making contributions in diverse fields. Here are just a few of the many paths taken by Concept Alumni.

Alumni Spotlight
(Week of Feb 15, 2016)

Michelle Lopez

Michelle Lopez is an Alumna of Chicago Math and Science Academy, Class of 2014. Currently, Michelle is a sophomore at the University of Chicago.

Briefly, describe your career path.
Right now, I am a second year at the University of Chicago. I plan to major in English Literature/Spanish and apply to the Urban Teachers Education Program my fourth year to become a primary school teacher and work with students living in the low-income areas of Chicago.
What are you passionate about in your work/school?
In my time at UChicago I have become very passionate about the Spanish language and Spanish literature. My love for teaching has also blossomed into a love for learning about teaching and I am very passionate about wanting to make a better world for people who don't have the same opportunities as those who surround me at this school.
Where is your career headed?
I want to be able to work in charter schools in Illinois to be closer to the children that need my help and learn the methods and values that help the students be successful in these schools and hopefully then take these lessons abroad and teach in Third World countries.
How has your Concept Schools experience helped shape your success?
My experience at CMSA has not only influenced what type of teacher and professional I want to be, but without the education and support I received from all my teachers from 6th grade until my senior of high school, I would have never been able to get into such a prestigious school. I am truly grateful and I know that I am able to work in such a challenging environment because I was taught how to improve myself and adapt while in high school. I was given a lot of opportunities while at CMSA and taking advantage of them has helped me become a better student at UChicago. If it weren't for the close relationship I had and continue to have with the teachers there, I don't think I would be as successful as I am today.
How are you a game changer?
I am a game-changer because I am able to make people think about those who don't have as many opportunities as they do. In this school, there are a lot of privileged people that can advocate for people of color or for low-income students, but it is hard for them to imagine what it is actually like for us to live in this country. I am the link that provides insight into the lives of others like myself, who didn't have much to begin with and have suffered the inequalities that make the 1% so successful. I am also the bridge that will assure my future students that their dreams can be goals and that they should never allow their current situation to determine their future, because if I can do it, they can too.
What is the most amazing or interesting thing that’s happened to you since graduating?
The most interesting thing that has happened to me since graduating from high school would have to be seeing my personal growth. I was able to go from a stumbling first-year college student that could not understand what was going on to a successful second year with four classes, two jobs, and a good chance at being chosen to go to Barcelona in the upcoming school year, for the entire school year. The changes I've gone through are the most amazing part of being in college, and I just hope that it will inspire my future students to be their best self and to never stop improving themselves and learning new things.
Your favorite high school memory?
My favorite high school memory has got to be my senior prom, right in front of being able to speak at my graduation ceremony. Being the successful planners that we were, all of the seniors dedicated their time and effort into fundraising the whole year until we raised over $10,000 by the end of the year and were able to have our prom on the Odyssey in Navy Pier. It was an incredible feat, and I will never forget the amount of pride we as a class felt that we were able to come together and make this a possibility for us. It was an incredibly fun experience and party, and I think that it meant that much more that we did it ourselves.
How do you support and participate in the Concept Alumni?
I enjoy writing for the newsletter every once in a while and I try to visit my own school as often as possible, something that I will continue to do even when I become a professional.

Concept Alumni Network (CAN) invites suggestions for Alumni Spotlights!
Do you know a Concept Alum(s) who has:
  • An interesting job?
  • An extraordinary story to tell?
  • Made a difference in his/her community?
  • Been a role model for others?
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