Curtis S. Henry Jr. ’16 traces his path to becoming a teacher directly to his classes at Union, especially the five courses he took with Associate Professor of History Kenneth Aslakson.
“I was a history major, and really dug deep into that—way beyond the major requirements,” he said. “I loved the structure of the history courses, and Professor Aslakson’s class, Race and Constitution, remains my favorite to this day. We discussed Supreme Court cases focused on racial equity, including Plessy vs. Ferguson and Brown vs. Board.”
“Every time I teach about those cases in AP U.S. history, I refer to that course, because it enables me to link my students’ interests with college-level opportunities.”
Now in his sixth year of teaching, Curtis spent his first three years at Achievement First Amistad High School. He and his three brothers, including Corey ’18, all graduated from the New Haven, Conn., charter school.
“What sold me on Union was the opportunity to visit and stay overnight with a freshman, and really get to see and know Union for myself,” Curtis recalled. “I knew next to nothing about the College before that, but left wanting to apply Early Decision. I have never regretted my choice.”
Curtis’s enthusiasm for Union motivated Corey to apply. A biology major, Corey works in a Connecticut-based laboratory, where he has played a role in testing COVID-19 samples since the pandemic started.
While Curtis was teaching at Achievement First, he also convinced one of his students – Laura Cartagena ’23 – to consider Union.
“I saw how Laura could thrive at Union and talked to her candidly about the College and how her personality made her a good fit.”
In turn, Laura reflected on how anxious she was when it came time to apply to colleges. “I had no idea where I wanted to go. Mr. Henry told me about his experience at Union, and I saw how happy he was to express how much of an impact the College had on his life. Our discussion definitely persuaded me to apply Early Decision to Union, and I have never regretted my decision whatsoever.”
Now, Curtis teaches at Muchin College Prep, a charter school located on the seventh floor of a high-rise in downtown Chicago. As a first-generation student and charter school alumnus, Curtis embraces Muchin’s mission of educational equity and empowering “students with the scholarship, discipline and honor necessary to succeed in college and lead exemplary lives.”
“I have shied away from taking on an administrative role, because I love what I do and know that working directly with students is where I can make the most impact.”