Bernard Zell alumni enter the next phase of their education, and the rest of their lives, with the skills to advocate for themselves, their community and the world. Now, nearly a decade since her graduation from BZ, Rachel Galowich (Class of 2010), continues to embody these values as she pursues a career in civil engineering and sustainable design.
Rachel began at Bernard Zell in nursery school and continued all the way through until her graduation in eighth grade, so her ties to this community still run deep. Even today she has fond memories of her classes with Mr. Keitel, Ms. Wexler and Dr. Ellison. And while her interest in architecture first emerged in middle school, it was some of the less concrete skills that continue to stick with her today.
“Dr. Ellison left a lasting impact,” said Rachel. “He infused life skills into his classes, rather than only asking us to read literature. The first few weeks were just learning to be a good human. One day he came into class acting really, really harsh—completely out of character—and even staged a fight with our student teacher. He was teaching us to be upstanders, not bystanders.”
Since graduation, Rachel went on to Walter Payton College Prep for high school where her inquisitive spirit allowed her to keep exploring until she found the path that best aligned with her true interests, and ultimately decided to focus on the engineering side of architecture. After her graduation from Payton, she took those skills to Cambridge where she majored in Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT and today is continuing her studies in Sustainable Design and Construction in pursuit of a master's at Stanford University.
Through all of these experiences, Rachel still considers Chicago home and sees Bernard Zell as having been foundational to everything she has accomplished since. In fact, this past summer was her first solid chunk of time back in town, and in addition to serving as a City of Chicago Mayoral Fellow, she was also able to reconnect with some old friends. The experience of working on major Chicago policy issues, hearing from top city leadership and touring government facilities was juxtaposed against time back home with family and friends. Altogether it was an excellent encapsulation of Bernard Zell’s academic, social and emotional lessons applied to the real world.
As she moves toward the completion of her graduate work, Rachel is looking forward to coming home to Chicago as she explores opportunities in the world of engineering, planning and consulting. But no matter where she ends up, it’s clear she’s prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.