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Jocelyn Vega, Class of 2017


Cornell University, Class of 2017

Air Force Academy High School


Jocelyn Vega embodies leadership and grace. A native of the McKinley Park neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago, Jocelyn grew up in a strong, working class, Latino family. Like many first-generation, low-income students, her entire life she has had to overcome numerous obstacles that have challenged her ability to attend college—her realizing her own potential as a high-achieving, low-income student being one of the biggest hurdles she has had to face thus far. For so long, she constantly had people in her life telling her that she would never be good enough, and that students like her don’t get to go to college; this making it even harder for her to have confidence in herself and her abilities.

“Chicago Scholars was my only safe space in Chicago because of its supportive atmosphere.” Along with the endless workshops and counseling sessions Chicago Scholars offers, Jocelyn says the ability to just talk to anyone in the office whenever she was feeling overwhelmed or anxious was one of the most valuable resources Chicago Scholars provided her with.

At Cornell University, Jocelyn is majoring in Government and Sociology, and is balancing three minors. This summer she will be interning for the Exoneration Project of Chicago and will be in Ghana working as a student teacher for the UN NGO Voices of African Mothers from July until August 2015. Her goal is to continue her higher education so that she can research and engage in social change, domestically and internationally.

She encourages current high school juniors to take time to reflect on their experiences, values, and communities to first understand the person that they are to then determine which college is best for them. Jocelyn admits that she struggled being the first in her family to graduate and attend college, but with Chicago Scholars, she soon realized that she was never alone throughout the process. Now, she happily states that she has all the confidence she needs to tackle the world, and it is all thanks to Chicago Scholars.