Edgar Ivan Montes


Edgar Ivan Montes knows the value of being light on your feet. It helped when he played varsity soccer at Elgin High School, it’s come in handy with his hobby as a competitive dancer, and he now uses it as a strategy in his career.

Montes, a 2012 Elgin High School (EHS) graduate, works as the Key Account Strategist for Junior Achievement (JA) of Chicago where he engages with prominent business leaders and JA volunteers. As part of his job, he sometimes returns to his high school alma mater where he speaks to students about his journey.

The native of Guerrero, Mexico, came to the U.S. at age six. After settling in Elgin with an uncle, Montes’ mother and father went to work. Montes, who spoke almost no English, began attending U-46 schools.

Learning a new language did not come easily, said Montes. When he enrolled as a first-grader at Oakhill Elementary in Streamwood, he was assigned a tutor to help his progress in English. He began building on his skills at Huff and Nature Ridge elementary schools. He continued to practice his language skills once he attended Canton Middle School, where he also joined the school’s soccer team.

By sophomore year his English skills had improved so much, he made the transition to English-only classes.

Montes has some happy memories of his days at EHS. He fondly recalled English class with teacher Kevin Gallery. “His personality made the class a lot of fun,” Montes said. 

Teacher Dave Borg was an influence in civics and economics classes, Montes said. Borg is also the head coach of the EHS soccer team, where Montes played as an upperclassman.

Montes took an accounting class taught by Alan Nakamoto, which proved to be formative.“That really opened my eyes because I took that accounting class and began to get interested in business,” he said.

After Montes graduated high school, Robert Morris University (RMU) offered a scholarship and he became the first person in his family to go to college. After Montes graduated with a degree in business administration, RMU offered another scholarship and Montes continued his education, earning a Masters of Business Administration.

It’s not all business for Montes. He enjoys dancing, a hobby he began pursuing as a teenager. In 2020, Montes and his dance partner, Alejandra Lobato, representing Phyzeke Dance Academy from Chicago, won the Amateur Classic world championship in the Bachata category at the World Salsa Summit in Miami. 

Montes says dancing provides stress relief and has given him opportunities to meet and interact with other dancers from around the world. And the self-control required in dancing helps in his business career, too.

“The two things I can take away from dance that I have been applying in my career is discipline and balancing my work schedule,” he said. “Now don’t get me wrong, I have been doing a good job at those things, but these dance experiences have helped me become even stronger at them.”