On Wednesday, September 20, City Colleges of Chicago officially welcomed our latest class of Star Scholarship recipients from all seven colleges to Malcolm X College for a celebratory event and college fair. The Star Scholarship is available to Chicago Public Schools students and students attending Chicago-based Big Shoulders Fund-supported schools. If the student graduates high school with a B average, they are able to pursue a degree or certificate at City Colleges at no cost.

Students, along with their family and friends, networked, met with four-year colleges and universities, and listened to advice from a panel of current and past Star Scholars.

Before the student panel, Chancellor Juan Salgado, a community college graduate himself, congratulated the students for making the “smart choice” to attend City Colleges.

“The Star Scholarship makes sure if you get the grades, you don’t have to worry about the money,” said Chancellor Salgado.

He also advised students to take full advantage of the support services offered at their college, including tutoring, advising, mental health support, food panties, and more, and to use both staff and faculty and their peers as resources. The Star Scholars were able to do just that thanks to a student panel of three past and present Star Scholars, which was moderated by Provost Mark Potter.

Daley College alumnus Cristian Olivares, Kennedy-King College student Favour Gbadamosi, and Malcolm X College student Karen Sinchi-Sarmiento told students about their City Colleges journey and provided the new Star Scholars with some advice.

Cristian transferred to UIC this semester after graduating from Daley. He’s studying marketing and business. During his time at Daley, he leveraged a summer internship with NASCAR’s community relations department into a new job, and he currently has his own business. He remembers his time at Daley fondly, from the security guard who always greeted him to Daley’s Transfer Director Bianca Rodriguez, who he met with weekly to create a plan for his future.

Cristian’s biggest advice to future Star Scholars?

“Say yes to every opportunity,” he said. “Who knows who you’ll meet and what you’ll do.”

Favour is a second-year cybersecurity major at Kennedy-King. She was not eligible to apply for FAFSA so the Star Scholarship was her opportunity to attend college at no cost. Favour shared how the Wellness Center helped her find housing when she needed a place to stay and the Career Center helped her get connected Kennedy-King’s Tech Launchpad, which resulted in an internship.

“There are so many helpful people,” Favour said with a smile. “So many resources that you can use for free. Just ask, and they’ll help you.”

Her advice to new Star Scholars is to get involved, join clubs, and start clubs. She’s currently a member of Kennedy-King’s Student Government Association and Business Club.

Karen began her college journey at a four-year university but transferred to Malcolm X after one semester. She’s a first-generation college student and, right away, she appreciated the individualized support she received from Malcolm X.

In addition to having all her books and tuition costs covered, she is grateful for the Career Center. They walked her through a mock interview to prepare for her dental hygiene program. It was successful as Karen is now in her first year of the program.

The event concluded with college breakout sessions, where the new Star Scholars were able to meet their college teams and learn even more about the resources they can leverage during their City Colleges journey. Now in its eighth year, the Star Scholarship has supported thousands of Chicago students in achieving their college dreams at no cost. To learn more about the award and its eligibility requirements, visit www.ccc.edu/starscholarship.