Oral Histories

Ernesto Cruz


Ernesto Cruz


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Ernesto Cruz, class of 1997, grew up in Hoffman Estates. He remembers seeing an IMSA flyer in his high school English classroom. He went to an informational session about admissions and thought it sounded like it would be a good fit because there would be other more academically-engaged students.

Cruz describes the uniqueness of the IMSA residential life experience and the long-lasting friendships that resulted. He and his wingmates and friends got up to a lot of mischief, some destructive but not deliberately so. He reflects on how RCs and other adults at IMSA created an unstructured but supervised and supportive environment. They turned any trouble into learning experiences, which in turn has influenced his own parenting.

Academically, Cruz describes IMSA as a "safe space to be wrong" and a space that helped him figure out what he could be great at. He started sophomore year passionate about physics. A physics teacher, Tom Jordan, helped him see his greater strengths might lie in history and he speaks highly of the history faculty. Junior year world history with Dr. Hollister was formative and Cruz has adapted one of the assignments from it to his own teaching.

After graduating from IMSA, Cruz attended Carleton College in Minnesota and double-majored in American Studies and Cinema and Media Studies. After college, Cruz worked first as an RC at the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics, and Computing. The dean of students there, Deb Guffy, had been dean of students at IMSA. He left to attend graduate school at the University of Kansas and then became a high school teacher.

Cruz currently teaches history and is chair of the history department at the Latin School of Chicago. The IMSA experience influenced his approach to teaching, with its emphasis on collaboration and problem-solving. While he continues to value his own IMSA memories and friendships, he criticizes the school's alumni relations and limited vision of success.

Interviewer: Sara Goek. Duration: 1:09:19




admissions, alumni, band, careers, college, faculty, friends, history classes, residential life, science classes, students


Oral history


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Ernesto Cruz