Personal Reflections | Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Personal Reflections

January 25, 2020

Dear IMSA Family,
Welcome to a new decade! Between now and graduation, there are less than 127 calendar days and less than 90 days when we exclude extended weekends and final exam days. Time is relative, and while we may perceive it as moving too fast, the only time we have is the present moment. None of us has a guarantee. As the adage says, “Yesterday is a cashed check; tomorrow is a promissory note.” Today is the only time we have. Let’s be present and mindful today.

On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, we held our Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. Mod 21 sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” SOUL (Spirit Of Universal Love) led our assembly in an interactive drumming experience, Ariela Asllani ’22 shared her spoken word poemand Jason Wiley ’99 delivered the keynote message. As I reflect on the assembly, the following quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. serves as an appropriate summary of its theme: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’”

When we returned from winter break on January 6, 2020, our sophomores experienced Intersession for the first time. Intersession is a fantastic opportunity for students to engage in learning hobbies, skills, life skills, to include content, from IMSA faculty, staff, students, alumni, and outside guests. In short, during Intersession, students have the opportunity to explore their interests outside of IMSA’s curriculum. Thanks to generous donations to the IMSA Fund, many of our students who qualify for financial assistance went on international trips, and all of their fees for Chicagoland Intersession experiences were fully covered. If you would like to donate to the IMSA Fund for student scholarships, please consider giving to the President’s Scholarship Endowment here.

Just before the winter break, Dr. Robert Hernandez announced his retirement from service to IMSA over the past 25 years, effective June 30, 2020. For many of us, Bob’s career has been a model to follow. He came to IMSA from Northwestern University in April of 1995 to serve as the Coordinator of Minority Recruitment and Retention. In 1999, he became the Director of Student Leadership Development, a position that evolved into the Executive Director of Student Affairs. In June 2017, I appointed Bob to serve as Interim Principal, and in July 2018, he assumed the permanent Principal post. While there will be many more opportunities to show Bob our appreciation, I’d like to take this opportunity to formally thank him for his outstanding dedication and commitment to IMSA, including its students and staff. As a result, we are looking for an outstanding instructional leader to serve as IMSA’s Principal and Chief Academic Officer. Here’s a link ( for you to share our announcement through your network.

I end this email by encouraging your response to two opportunities. First, as you might recall, we are redesigning our ethics education program for IMSA students. If you would like to join us in this Presidential Committee, please reply to this email sharing your background and interest. Here’s alink to the Charter for Presidential Committee on Ethics Education at IMSA. Second, we are accepting nominees for our Annual IMSA Board of Trustees Alumni Awards. Nominations are due by Thursday, February 6, 2020, and can be submitted here. Please contact Maurice Haney (, Alumni Relations Coordinator, with any questions.

Let’s have a great 2020!


José M. Torres, Ph.D.

P.S. As I mentioned in my last Personal Reflection, over the winter break, I drove to Orlando, FL, to visit with my family and help my two sisters welcome new grandbabies. Here are pictures of the babies with IMSA swag! I also wanted to visit the famous Metropolis, and my wife, Isabel, and I had great fun stopping in Metropolis and spending the night on our way to the sunshine state.