Olivia Villarreal, Class of 2011

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Olivia Villarreal

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Class of 2011
Benito Juarez Community Academy High School

Chicago Scholars was one of the first communities I joined.  They made my community grow larger, which transformed me into a college bound Scholar, and ultimately drove me full speed towards the future. The organization not only provided me with financial support, but also helped me with the college application process through mentorship and networking and career development. Being the first person in my family to go to college was very difficult since I did not have anyone at home to share their college experience and process with me. Chicago Scholars gave me the opportunity to embrace my educational and career goals regardless of my challenges. 

Chicago Scholars has a way of making you feel so cared about and free to visit anytime you need them.  The program is designed to train every student to prepare them for school, but essentially, life as well. When I first went away to college, instead of feeling alone, I knew Chicago Scholars was always there with me and still is. As a young employee, I am now able to share my experiences with my community, including reaching out to incoming scholars through mentoring. 

Chicago Scholars helped me plan each step of my education which has provided me with the confidence and courage to face the challenges of the real world after college.  Every day since I left for college as a scholar, my life has been blessed with opportunities that have sculpted who I am today. Since the very first workshop, the organization has trained me to be the best student, employee, and human being I can be. Chicago Scholars has always been my pillar of hope, and being a mentor is my way of saying thank you to my Chicago Scholars community for all of their hard work and for caring about the future of Chicago.