Taking a Journey One Step at a Time

Stephanie Rosados could only dream of being a first-generation college student, yet alone bare the thought of ever earning a full ride to a major research institution in Chicago.  

By Antonia Acuna

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Coming from a family with financial hardships and insufficient college resources, Stephanie Rosados vision of attending a university seemed like a hard reach. That’s when her high school counselor continuously mentioned different programs, which included The Chicago Schools Foundation(CS), that helped her land a full ride scholarship to the University of Illinois at Chicago(UIC).

“I remember I was afraid to apply simply because I didn’t believe in myself, plus I was very shy,” recalled Rosado, who thanks her high school counselor, Carla Martinez, for giving her that constant push to apply to different programs.

The CS Foundation is a competitive program that is known to be academically driven toward first generation college students that come from households that are struggling financially.  They help navigate their scholars to through college and even towards their careers.  Being admitted into the program and becoming a Scholar was an unexpected opening to a brighter future.  As a scholar, a person is given a counselor, three mentors and are required to attend different workshops of various topics.

“My counselor helped me tailor a suitable college for me and ensured I was a up to date with college applications,” said Rosado. It’s the mentors though, a support group, that lend a hand and bring positivity into the scholar’s life. “They would take me out to lunch on the weekends and we would even get together at their houses to bake cookies or something! The point of having them around was to ensure me that it was possible for me to get my dream job in the city one day,” she explained.

The constant encouragement and push Rosado received was as continuous motivation as she went on the hunt for possible universities. After landing one-on-one interviews with five universities, the unexpected happened when UIC offered her a full ride “I was even told that I was going to get money returned to me,” said the 20-year-old remembered. Unable to hide her excitement, she said it was such a thrill to know that her countless, late nights of applying for scholarships had finally paid off.

“I really never thought I would make it this far. I’m taking my progress day by day, but as always never take anything for granted,” said Rosado.  Now a junior at  UIC, Rosado has moved up the ranks and interns and is a peer mentor at the CS Foundation. Being grateful to how far she’s come, the Spanish native continues to give back to the foundation that has made such a mark on her life. “I am really passionate about helping others students discovering their own potential, and I want them to know that their future is in their hands.”

Knowing that it’s possible to succeed, Rosado gives students the hope and confidence that she once needed. “I want them to know that the money is out there. It is just the drive for one to want to continue their career goal that is needed to accomplish that goal.”

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