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Meet Academic Mentor Raymond Lo

This month we caught up with ESM Prep Academic Mentor Raymond Lo to chat about everything from the importance of helping students connect to academic material to the surprising allure of medieval Italian poetry.

Daniel McElroy: Did you always know you wanted to work in education?

Raymond Lo: My journey in education began when I volunteered for UCLA Unicamp, working with urban youth to expose them to nature, while also helping them reach for higher education. This led to me working in the nonprofit world for most of my early career before transitioning to more dynamic and modern school systems as an administrator.

DM: And how did you end up at ESM?

RL: ESM Prep spoke to me with the company’s excellent track record, culture and vision. I love the spirit of always pushing forward and innovating while retaining the core of mentorship and humanity throughout the organization.

DM: What about your work energizes you?

RL: In my role, I want to help as many students reach their dreams as possible—so it’s all about making connections, helping families see how important that mentorship piece is in guiding students through such important years, and seeing the amazing work our mentors do every single day. For a lot of students, it can be difficult to have a connection to academic material, having strong mentors bridges the gap by having students connect with a person. We see relationships as foundational to crafting each students’ journey and incorporating concepts into their worldview.

DM: What do you wish you’d known as a junior in high school?

RL: That guidance was available beyond the resources that were immediately in front of me. With school counselors being stretched thin, navigating one’s path through high school can seem difficult. Getting focused, candid and relevant advice for setting oneself up for success in college and beyond is even more elusive, but there are resources out there - it just takes a bit of searching!

DM: Who is the best teacher you’ve ever had, and what was so special about them?

RL: Professor James Chiampi at UC Irvine. He’s a scholar on Dante and The Divine Comedy, and I took his class in the summer before attending UCLA. The passion, excitement and friendliness that he exudes captivated everybody in attendance. Italian, English and Latin intermixed in expertly delivered passages, and by the time we were done, half the class wanted to join the obscure profession of being a Dantista. He left an indelible impression on me, showcasing what an excellent teacher imparts, not just through scholarly guidance, but through the care he had with each and every student, holding us to the rigor of writing well while being equally willing to help anybody who asked.