For 18-year-old Restaurant Owner Jonathan Macedo, Early College Means Early Success

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He’s an 18-year-old restaurant owner that sells flowers on the side; a high school senior with nearly 13 college credits under his belt and a substantial scholarship to DePaul University.

It sounds like there’s little that Jonathan Macedo can’t do. But despite his success, the Lindblom Math and Science Academy student has maintained his humility. He recently told the Chicago Tribune that when Peke’s Pozole, the family business that he now owns, opened its doors in Archer Heights a few years ago, “We didn’t know anything about owning a restaurant.”

Alongside his parents and siblings, Jonathan was forced to learn the ropes as quickly as possible. To complement the hands-on experience he was gaining at the restaurant, he also enrolled in a handful of introductory business courses at both Harold Washington College and Malcolm X College. The classes were available to Jonathan for free as part of City Colleges’ Early College program, which provides an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to earn college credits prior to graduation.

Jonathan Macedo at his restaurant, Peke’s Pozole

As he looks forward to graduating from Lindblom this spring, Jonathan is finishing up his final Dual Enrollment class at HWC – Principles of Management with Professor Alta Williams. For a restaurant owner who manages 12 people but has never had a boss himself, the course is certainly proving to be useful.

Jonathan says that he’s learning the importance of leading by example from Professor Williams. Beyond the knowledge, concepts, and skills that he’s gaining through the course material, Williams has also tried to build confidence in her students, telling Jonathan that he is at the core of his success at the restaurant.

And Jonathan is certainly putting in the hours to ensure that Peke’s Pozole continues to succeed. His favorite part about taking classes at City Colleges is the flexibility, which gives him more time to be at the restaurant. “You don’t get that through a traditional high school schedule,” he said.

He also enjoys taking class alongside people of all ages and from all backgrounds at City Colleges – some of whom have more life experience and are able to share the tales of their successes and setbacks with the 18-year-old.

This fall, Jonathan will head to DePaul with nearly a semester’s worth of credits stacked up from his Dual Enrollment classes. His advice to other students who are considering Early College comes in the form of a question: “Why would you not take advantage of the opportunity?