Introducing the College Team from Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy

Published On: May 20th, 2024Categories: 2024, Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy, Staff

At Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy, we believe that college is one of the best pathways to creating multi-generational change for our students. As such, we put a huge emphasis on cultivating a robust College Team to help our students prepare for not only the admissions process but also college itself. Check out our unique college team and the difference they make in our school with our students and alumni:

Damiya Perkins, Dean of College Counseling

Damiya Perkins in a professional headshot. She is smiling, has braids, and wearing a white button up.

Damiya Perkins (she/her) grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a housing project. Perkins’ ultimate goal was to become a positive product of her environment and circumstances. She attended some of the most prestigious elementary and high schools in CPS; however, she says academics was not her “thing.” She was a dancer and wanted more than anything to be the next big choreographer of her time. So, it took her a while to get into the “groove” of school as a teen. As a result, the academic piece of high school was not a great experience for her. Her college counselor did not provide the tools for success, so she looked to her older sister for guidance in getting into college. Perkins ultimately was able to attend and graduate from Eastern Illinois University with her bachelor’s degree and then later received a Master in Education Administration. She knew her purpose was to be a segway and story for kiddos like herself to get to college.

Q: What does being part of the college team mean to you?

 A: “Being on the college team means being responsible for exposing our students to college life and the array of opportunities it brings. When discussing college in check-ins or a seminar group, we use the “theory of change” model.

noble's theory of change diagram

Noble's theory of change model for how college impacts our students and their livelihoods.

This model helps show students and parents the multiple positive changes attending college can bring. For the college team, when a student chooses to attend a college or university, it’s personal. We pride ourselves on ensuring that students are well-equipped to make the best decisions.”

Q: How do you prepare our students for college?

A: “At Rowe Clark Math & Science Academy, we provide college readiness seminar courses throughout every grade level. Students are guided through a 4-year track, beginning with the 9th-grade Early Collegiate Scholars course to the 12th-grade College and Career Seminar. This track begins with students seeing themselves as potential college-going individuals. They investigate their identities, learn about their aptitudes and interests, and have an understanding of careers that exist and the educational pathway that will lead them there so they can make tactical decisions when they become a senior! 

The objective of these courses is to provide students with lessons and topics that generate social/emotional, academic, and executive functioning support as they navigate their post-secondary plans.

Students at each grade level are also provided with external resources and opportunities to expose them to postsecondary realms. These include:

  • Weekly/bi-weekly visits from college representatives who come to Rowe-Clark
  • Independent college visit access & monthly group tours 
  • Annual HBCU (Historically Black College/University) spring break trip 
  • HBCU College Fair
  • Noble Network College Fair”

Ciera Dantzler, College & Career Counselor

Ciera Dantzler posed for a selfie, she is wearing a floral blazer.

Ciera Dantzler was brought up on Chicago’s West Side and graduated from Rowe Clark Math & Science Academy in 2014, finishing in the top 10% of her class. She is a very driven counselor who is passionate about making a bigger impact on young people. Since 2014, she has been dedicated to helping young people in her church and community by volunteering. She believes that many students and families today struggle with seeing post-secondary pursuits as an option, so driven by her desire to help others, she set out to introduce a college platform that is more appealing to students. Dantzler herself didn’t have a lot of support from her parents, so she now utilizes her experience to advocate for students so they get all the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in college.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

A: “Being a part of an experience that can change someone’s life is the best aspect of my job. I get to have initial conversations about post-high school plans with parents and students. Five days a week, we work on college and career searches, respond to emails about scholarships over the weekend, attend field trips to trade schools, and witness kids’ emotional reactions to college acceptances. During one-on-one conversations, I emphasize to my students that attending college is far more than completing a twenty-page paper or going to your 8 a.m. lab. College teaches you essential skills that you will need in the workplace and, most importantly, in life. You are taught self-awareness, independence, confidence, how to endure uncertainty, and above all, how to tap into your power to navigate through life’s difficult situations.”

Q: Why did you become a college counselor?

A: “I became a college counselor because of my personal experiences. My mother had a very serious drug addiction that I had to deal with when I was younger—it had been a challenge for her even before I was born. Despite dealing with this circumstance in my life, I never allowed it to interfere with my education. The crisis motivated me to work even harder to earn a college degree. More importantly, it inspired me to become someone who can support social and emotional well-being, leading them to choose positive, choice-filled lives. I was told, ‘An investment for a student is an investment in their community.’ I am a product of my decisions. I now know that obtaining an education is essential to success. I am a first-generation college student who graduated from the UIC Jane Addams School of Social Work with a master’s degree in social work, specializing in child and family studies.

It is truly an honor and a privilege to be part of a life-changing moment. Our students are the future, and with my help, they will choose the path that will change the world, open their eyes to a new world of opportunity, and break generational curses.”

Jakarie Gates, College & Career Counselor

Jakarie Gates smiling in a gray suit and tie. He has a short haircut.

Jakarie Gates is a college counselor and spoken word instructor at Rowe-Clark. He was born and raised seven minutes from Rowe-Clark and takes pride in being a Morehouse Man and a Kappa Man. He is proud to serve on the college team and be a part of Noble because it is an opportunity to take everything he gained from school and pay it forward.

Q: What is the best part of your job? 

A: “The best part of the job is watching a student transition from a high school senior to a young adult—witnessing the joy of college acceptance letters, scholarships, and final decisions is unparalleled by any other feeling. As a college counselor, you are privileged to experience the grind with students firsthand, from drafting personal statements to completing applications to partnering with families weekly.”

Q: Why did you become a college counselor?

A: “I became a college counselor to help students navigate the obstacles that may come when making post-secondary decisions. The world is constantly changing around us, and so are our students. As a college counselor, I want to be somebody who can help students and parents adapt to these changes and assist students in being the best versions of themselves. Most parents pick Noble because we promise to send their student(s) to college under the best circumstances. As a college counselor, I honor that promise and commitment daily.”

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