Jaleen Gibson grew up on the South Side of Chicago, but it never felt like home. In fact, no one place felt like home for the 25 year old. He moved over 20 times, lived in seven different states and attended five different high schools before graduating from the now closed South Side Baptist School. After high school Jaleen headed to DePaul, where he majored in finance. His father became ill, though, and his grades suffered as a result. His family situation forced Jaleen to withdraw after two years.

After leaving DePaul Jaleen worked in a warehouse and in fast food. When his father passed away, he opted for a new start in Michigan, but his employer there went out of business. When he returned to Chicago, he applied for the Year Up program at Harold Washington College (HWC). Year Up Chicago is a one-year, intensive training program that provides under-served young adults, ages 18-24, with a combination of hands-on skills development, coursework eligible for college credit, corporate internships, and wraparound support.

Jaleen, a single father, started at HWC in September of 2018 and spent six months in classes working towards a basic certificate in banking & finance. As a result of Year Up, a partner of City Colleges, Jaleen received a six month internship from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. During his internship, Jaleen focused on research and serving as a financial administrator in training. Following the six months as an intern, Jaleen was offered a full time position. He now works as a Financial Specialist for Northwestern, where he approves and processes transactions for faculty and staff.

With college credit earned from DePaul and HWC. Jaleen has applied to continue his undergraduate education at Northwestern, where he’d receive 90 percent off his tuition because of his status as a full time employee. He likes his chances of starting in Evanston in the spring 2020 semester. “With me having a son and kind of getting off the higher education track when my dad became sick, I never thought I’d get back in college,” said Jaleen. “Now, thanks to Year Up and City Colleges, I’m working full time in a coveted field and getting ready to continue my education at one of the best schools in the world.”