Meet the College Dream Team at Mansueto High School

"Meet the College Dream Team at Mansueto High school" over a college of mhs college team
Published On: November 14th, 2023Categories: 2023, Campus Life, College at Noble, Equity at Noble, Mansueto High School, Staff

College readiness is at the top of both staff and students’ minds at Mansueto High School on a daily basis. As the newest school in the Noble network, Mansueto has graduated three classes—and it’s growing rapidly. With over 1,000 scholars enrolled this year—making Mansueto one of the largest schools in our network—the work of Mansueto’s College Team is critical as they serve a vast number of students, many of them multi-language learners. The team feels a huge responsibility to help support and develop Chicago students so they can thrive in college, lead choice-filled lives, and create multigenerational change.

Mansueto is lucky to have a robust College Team with counselors who are not only skilled, knowledgeable, and dedicated but also share many of the same backgrounds and experiences of the students they serve. We talked with a few of the team members to learn more about their story and their passion for education. Check it out:

Close-up Carlos Garcia with short dark hair. He has on a light-colored button-up.

Carlos Garcia | Dean of College & Post-Secondary Counseling

Carlos Garcia (he/him) is the proud son of two Mexican immigrant parents and a first-generation college graduate. He was born and raised on the Southeast Side of Chicago before he moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to attend the University of Wisconsin for his bachelor’s degree. After receiving a business bachelor’s degree, Garcia found his love for education. He’s been in the field for eight years and has counseled hundreds of students and families. This school year will be Garcia’s third year at Mansueto.

Outside work, Garcia enjoys traveling, FIFA, the beach, sports, walking his dogs, and trying new restaurants!

Q: What are your team goals?

“We have many team goals, but the team’s primary goal for this school year is to have 84% of our seniors choose a 4-year college/university by the end of the school year. We have been striving to reach this goal over the last few years but have yet to hit it. This is the year we’re going to do it!”

Headshot of Andrea Calderon smiling. She has medium-length ombre brown hair. She is wearing an olive green button-up.

Andrea Calderón | Assistant Dean of College & Post-Secondary Counseling

Andrea Calderón (she/her) is a native of Chicago’s Southwest Side, specifically the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Her parents owned a tiendita in the community.

Calderón is extremely grateful that she serves the community and families she and her parents have known for many years. She attended Lake Forest College and majored in sociology and anthropology. Although she faced some hurdles, she graduated and became a first-generation college graduate. Calderón has been working at MHS since it opened back in 2016. This year is the start of her 8th school year with MHS and her 5th year on the College and Post-Secondary Team.

When she’s not at school, Calderón enjoys being outside, watching the latest television series, and traveling.

Q: Why did you become a college counselor?

“As an 11th grader, I transferred to Noble Street College Prep from a private all-girls high school. Once I transferred, I was astonished by the support available to students. I’m the youngest in my family, and my three older siblings graduated from private high schools. They didn’t have access to the same level of support that I did, like college seminar classes. Unfortunately, they navigated their post-secondary process on their own. As a teenager, I recognized those inconsistencies and always admired the work that the counseling teams were doing at Noble Schools. I was excited to join the college counseling team to help make sure all students have adequate support in manifesting their goals after high school.”

Tim Feltman outside smiling, he has short dark hair and is wearing glasses and a dark grey suit.

Tim Feltman | College Counselor & Pre-College Seminar Instructor

Tim Feltman (he/him) is originally from Long Island, NY, but moved to Chicago over 17 years ago and calls Chicago his home. Feltman comes from a family of teachers and educators, which made him interested in education.

After high school, he attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and majored in psychology and elementary/special education. After college, he started teaching in an elementary school in Chicago Public Schools. While teaching, he attended Concordia University and obtained his Master of Arts in Reading Education. He left the teaching field after five years to get his master’s in social work and work at Loyola University. He came back to education in 2021 to be a counselor at Mansueto.

Outside of school, Tim enjoys playing and watching movies with his 3-year-old daughter and partner, reading, cooking, eating, and traveling (which is hard with a 3-year-old!)

Q: What is the best part of your job?

“The best part of my job is seeing students grow from 11th grade to alumni! It is exciting to see students get their college acceptances and go to their program of choice.”

Professional headshot of Edith Flores smiling. She has long dark straight hair and is wearing a white floral top.

Edith Flores | Alumni Success Coach

Edith Flores attended Chicago Public Schools and earned a Posse Scholarship during her senior year of high school. As a Posse Scholar, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and majored in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies. Flores is also a first-generation college graduate.

Although Flores was born in Chicago and grew up in Little Village, she also lived in Mexico for a few years and even went to school in Guadalajara. She is very proud to be Mexican and speak Spanish; she loves to visit Mexico anytime she is able.

The 2023-2024 school year marks Flores’ third year at Mansueto. She is super excited to continue serving Mansueto’s community of students and families.

In her free time, Edith likes to spend time with family and friends, attend concerts, travel, and dance as much as possible.

Q: Why did you become an alumni counselor?

“Going to college positively changed my perspective, confidence, and goal-setting. It changed the trajectory of my life for the better. I knew then, as I know now, that I wanted to help as many people as possible access college and enjoy the endless possibilities a college education can provide. I am passionate about guiding students to see and believe in themselves. That is at the forefront of my counseling philosophy.

My favorite part is working and communicating with students and families and speaking in our native language. Access to education, resources, and opportunities in Spanish is already so limited, so I am grateful that I can help bridge the language gap for our community…”

Professional photo of David Rios- Perez he has short dark hair and is wearing glasses. He has on a navy blue sweater with grey slacks. His arms are crossed.

David Rios-Perez | College Counselor & College Seminar Instructor

David Rios-Perez grew up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood and attended Kelly High School. After volunteering in the community, he decided to pursue a degree in human services at National Louis University.

After college, he started his career by working on the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, where he visited high schools and presented on financial aid in the South Side. He continued his service in education through Chicago Public Schools, Aspira Charter Schools, and Chicago Scholars before he started his current position at Mansueto High School.

This is Rios-Perez’s 5th year at Mansueto. In addition to being a counselor, he also shares his passion for gaming with students by sponsoring e-sports enrichment programs at Mansueto. He looks forward to working with the upcoming graduating class in reaching their post-secondary goals this year!

Q: How was your high school experience, and how did it prepare you for college?

“I attended Kelly High School, where I prepared for college by taking advantage of all the opportunities available to me. Throughout my high school career, I enrolled in Kelly’s full IB Program, AP Classes, Daley College’s Dual-Enrollment Program, and Instituto del Progreso Latino’s Escalera College Prep Program. It wasn’t easy—even exhausting at times—but these programs gave me the practice and confidence to succeed in higher education. I even earned enough credits to graduate a year earlier during my undergraduate program, saving time and money in the long run!”

Headshot of Ruby Villagrana a woman. She has medium length brown hair.

Ruby Villagrana | College Counselor & College Seminar Instructor

Ruby Villagrana (she/her) grew up in Humboldt Park. She is a Noble alum, graduating from the founding class of Rauner College Prep. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher and work with students. She attended DePaul University and majored in education, focusing on Spanish. As a first-generation student, Villagrana knew that she wanted to come back to Noble and work with students to ensure they had the opportunity of going to college.

Ruby has a six-year-old son, is proud to be Mexican, and loves traveling and spending time with her family. This school year marks her 9th year in education, 6th at Mansueto, and 2nd in college counseling.

Q: Why did you become a college counselor?

“I transitioned from being a Spanish teacher to being a college counselor because I wanted to ensure staff members and students felt confident and excited about college access because college is the best pathway for our students. I wanted to work with students and excite them about their future. I wanted to ensure that our students are empowered and ready for life after high school. Our students deserve college and their dream career.”

Headshot of Rafa Duarte smiling, he has short dark hair and is wearing a blue button up.

Rafa Duarte | College Counselor & Pre-College Seminar Instructor

Rafa Duarte was born in El Salvador and emigrated with his family to Hammond, Indiana, at eight years old. Growing up in a working-class, immigrant family gave him the experiences that would instill in him a thirst for creating positive change in his community.

After earning his Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Purdue University Northwest, he decided that working in the private sector was not for him, so he completed a transition-to-teaching program and held various roles in his home district. He taught English as a second language and college access classes for three years before moving to Chicago and pursuing work in a Noble school.

At Mansueto, he strives to deepen his practice as an emancipatory teacher and grow his leadership experience in diversity, equity, and inclusion as a member of the school’s DEI Steering Committee.

Q: How are you involved in the Mansueto community, past your role as a counselor?

“Being involved in the MHS community is very important to our team. I’m proud to have been a member of the DEI Steering Committee at MHS for the past three years, helping build antiracist policies at our campus. In past years, I have led an art club. This year, I’m leading a meditation club. I also chaperone sporting events here at MHS—last year alone, I chaperoned over 20 games. I like to help out whenever I can. I love knowing that I’m helping to make MHS an amazing place!”

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