“GO TO COLLEGE!” That’s the advice Alicia Perez-Katz (MSEd ’06) delivers as principal of Baruch College Campus High School (BCCHS), whose interdisciplinary liberal arts program is dedicated to graduating socially aware, college-ready students. Coincidentally, it was by following that same advice decades ago that Perez-Katz’s father, Robert Edgar Perez (’57), started his family down a path that led his daughter to find her passion as an educator.
“My father always wanted to work abroad, so he interviewed to be a crew member of a passenger liner. They told him to go to college instead,” explains Perez-Katz. Robert Perez, who had immigrated to New York from Cuba as a child, chose to attend Baruch (then City College) “because it was free and had a stellar reputation,” says his daughter. Majoring in foreign trade, he ultimately worked for several multinational companies; as a result, his daughter’s formative years were spent in international schools in Ecuador, South Korea, and Brazil.
Robert Perez (’57) today and his Lexicon photo.
While attending high school in São Paulo, Perez-Katz found herself “grappling with the social class divides and poverty.” That experience inspired a college community service trip, during which she tutored the children of migrant Mexican farm workers. “I returned inspired and excited about teaching,” she recalls.
Perez-Katz, who also holds a bachelor’s degree from Tufts and a master’s in English education from Columbia’s Teachers College, joined the BCCHS staff in 1999, teaching Spanish and English and helping establish the young school’s 11th grade curriculum. BCCHS was founded in 1996, the product of a joint NYC District 2–Baruch College initiative to create a college-prep high school linked to CUNY. Originally housed at Baruch, BCCHS today is located near campus and remains partnered with the College, which offers classes for BCCHS seniors.
Named principal of the school in 2003, Perez-Katz says the generous mentorship of her predecessor and her Baruch master’s degree helped shape her style as an educator. “Also, my father,” she’s quick to add. “He taught me the importance of building trust, being truthful, and speaking your mind while appreciating others’ differences and maintaining one’s humility.”