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A Rare Graduation Celebration

A Rare Graduation Celebration

Cesar Monarrez was a high school swimmer on Northside College Prep’s swimming and diving team. Eight years later, Cesar is heading off to Yale University to study medicine.

Kristin Hillgamyer, who was on Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School’s running team, is training for her first Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

And Alexandra Skital, who cried tears of joy when she received WSC’s call four years ago, notifying her that she won 1 10,000 scholarship, is preparing for her finance career, and looking into MBA master’s degree programs.

These recent graduates represent the dreams of many Chicago children. And their parents. They excelled in athletics and academics in high school. They demonstrated the Olympic values. And they used these commitments to pursue their college education. But these three athletes, now in their 20s, and from different backgrounds, agree on one thing: all of their hard work has paid off with help from World Sport Chicago’s Scholarship Program, which has helped 55 mostly Chicago teenagers — including low income children and recent immigrants — get into Harvard, Notre Dame, Purdue University, and other colleges since 2010.

Stories like Cesar’s, Kristin’s, and Alexandra’s tend to surface this time of year – graduation season – as anomalies, inspiring examples of students who beat their demographic odds by making it to top universities.

But for WSC Scholars, these stories are the norm.

On Saturday, June 6, WSC hosted its 1st Annual Scholarship Celebration to recognize 18 Scholars who successfully navigated through college, and moved their tassel from left to right. They did so with WSC support and scholarships worth up to $640,000 total.

WSC students were quick to tout how WSC helped them: either with a scholarship, mentoring, a support network, and intensive college preparation; or assistance navigating the complicated college application process, with particular expertise in interview practice and refining the college application essay.

WSC Scholarship Program works because of a rigorous commitment that includes college application mentoring, participation in on-site college interviews with 70 colleges and universities and the opportunity to receive renewable college scholarships worth up to $10,000 annually ($24,000 total), supported by WSC and Chicago donors. WSC expects a lot of its students: a minimum 2.0 grade-point average, involvement in an extracurricular activity, and 2 credit hours of community service a year.

It was a rare graduation celebration, in part, because everyone had an inspiring story to share.

“Being both a first generation American, and college student, I was overwhelmed by the application process, and my parents didn’t have the means to help me through,” said WSC Scholar Alexandra Skital who graduated from Purdue University. “They were not familiar with the schools or with the system.”

We also honored 37 rising seniors, juniors, and sophomores who successfully navigated the college application process, received college acceptance letters, and are now working hard to overcome the difficulties that come along the way. “See what Chicago students who came from your same neighborhoods and high schools have accomplished,” said Stephanie Miller of WSC, who has been following the Scholars intimately since 2010. ”I encourage you to work hard in college, pursue your dreams, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from WSC or the other WSC Scholars.”

Stephanie Miller of WSC addressing the Scholars.

Stephanie Miller of WSC addressing the Scholars.

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