Meet Schafaris Turner, future Athletic Director

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One day, Schafaris Turner (Class of 2016) dreams of giving back to Chicago by opening recreation centers throughout Chicago that will serve as "safe havens for inner city athletes and youth". These centers will be staffed by mentors, tutors, and coaches who will “help keep youth on the right path and guide them to reach their full potential athletically and academically.”  

In the shorter term, however, she is getting ready to head to graduate school at her alma mater, University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign to earn her Masters in Sports Management.  Schafaris has accepted a Graduate Assistant position in Event Management with UIUC’s athletic department, and will attend graduate school tuition-free.  After graduation, she plans to pursue a position in event management for a collegiate athletic department for a Big 10 of SEC school, and one day become an Athletic Director.

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Schafaris, who graduated in June from University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Sport and Tourism, was the first in her immediate family to attend college.  She grew up in the Englewood/Back of the Yards neighborhood on the city’s south side.   Because no one in her family had gone through the college admissions process before, they could offer encouragement, but not much by way of application advice.  As Schafaris says, “As much as my family wanted to help me with the application process, they couldn’t because they didn’t know much about it.”

Schafaris’ high school counselor told her about Chicago Scholars, and she got the support she needed.  “Chicago Scholars has helped me succeed by constantly providing support for me… I never felt like I was alone,” she says.

It didn’t take long for Schafaris became a leader within Chicago Scholars.  Her favorite part of the program was when she served as a Chicago Scholars Class Officer in 2012: “I became really good friends with my fellow class officers and it was amazing joining together to unite all of the current classes within Chicago Scholars.”

Schafaris has some advice for Scholars for the Class of 2021:   

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“Don’t give up, no matter the circumstances! Whether you decide to attend a PWI or a HBCU, you will face challenges that will make you question yourself, work ethic, and intelligence. You will struggle mentally, spiritually, and/or financially at some point during your 4-6 years. However, making it through your struggles will make you stronger (cliché but it’s true). Find a group of friends and mentors that will keep you motivated and encouraged."

"When you finally walk across that stage to receive your degree, it will be the most satisfying moment in the world.”


Schafaris' story is also featured in our Second Quarter Newsletter: "Something to Celebrate". Learn about what Chicago Scholars has been up to the last few months, and get a preview of what's coming up next!  

Click here to read the newsletter