Waukegan to College offers path to higher learning
For many Waukegan students, a college education is often both a dream and a daunting challenge. An open house hosted by Waukegan to College in October, showed local middle and high school students and their families how that dream can come true.
At the event, students and families learned about free Waukegan to College programs that can help them enter and succeed in higher education.
Moises Arreola, a Waukegan to College success story, now a student at Lake Forest College, addressed the students. Arreola explained how his own experiences with Waukegan to College helped shape his academic success at Waukegan High School and in college. He credits the organization with leading him to new career goals in computer science.
"I was an oblivious eighth grader without very much direction," he said. "One day, I was forced to attend a school fair by my mother. My mom stopped by a college readiness program centered around helping students like me. Initially, I wasn't interested, but I figured I would demonstrate courage and apply. I ended up in a Waukegan to College math enrichment class. At first, I felt overwhelmed, but my tutor was astonished by the progress I quickly made."
Arreola's success inspired him to become a math tutor with Waukegan to College.
"Each student encounters different challenges and needs different methods to overcome their challenges," he said. "I've learned that no matter how inadequate some students' math foundations are, I can find ways to motivate them and show them that math can be a very exciting subject.
"The services Waukegan to College offers to its students make it possible for any first-generation student to go to college," Arreola said. "If you are a first-generation student with dreams of going to college, you would be doing yourself a huge favor."
Waukegan to College staff advisers, along with volunteer tutors and mentors, help students realize their potential and defy higher education barriers. Comprehensive programs start as young as fifth grade and involve a family-based, wraparound model of support.
The programs include individual tutoring and mentoring, SAT/ACT prep, college advising and application assistance, student and family workshops, field trips and site visits, financial aid assistance and more.
Local schools have limited resources to assist Waukegan students with the challenging and nuanced path to college. Since its start 13 years ago, Waukegan to College, a 501c3 nonprofit, has grown to serve more than 400 students.
In those same years, 78 students have graduated from a variety of colleges and universities from coast to coast. These schools include University of Illinois, Lake Forest College, College of Lake County, Northwestern University, Knox College, Georgetown, Brown, Tufts, Duke, Vanderbilt, and more.
Twenty-one graduating high school seniors this year, all of whom were participants in Waukegan to College programs, received a combined total of nearly $14 million in scholarships through the organization's Scholarship Club. Waukegan to College helps make higher education affordable and accessible by offering financial aid guidance and budgeting support.
Any Waukegan families interested in participating in the program can contact Pricilla Uriostegui at firstname.lastname@example.org or (224) 628-3067.
For information about volunteering opportunities with Waukegan to College, complete an online application at www.waukegantocollege.org/volunteer or call (224) 628-3067.