Jessica immigrated to the United States from Mombasa, Kenya, at the age of 12, which meant leaving friends and everything she knew behind. She settled into life in the Roseland community and attended Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. College Preparatory (MLK Prep) High School, whose motto is “Dare to dream, Strive to achieve,” an adage she took to heart as she threw herself into her studies.

“I liked school, so education became my focus,” she said.

At MLK Prep, Jessica kept her grades up so that she could become a Star Scholar and attend City Colleges at no cost.

“The Star Scholarship program is great. I was lucky to be able to attend college at no charge,” she stated with a broad smile.

Jessica enrolled at Harold Washington College and became involved in student activities, including Student Government Association, where she served as a senator.

“When I attended Harold Washington College, I said yes to all new and positive experiences,” she said. “City Colleges feels like home. It makes me feel assured and confident, and it allowed me to find my community.”

In the fall, Jessica plans to continue her studies at DePaul University so she can earn a bachelor’s degree in international business. She was recently awarded the CME Group Star Partnership Mayoral Award, a $5,000 scholarship, to help her achieve that goal.

“Learning about how global and national companies come together to do business and ignite our economy here in Chicago and beyond is exciting,” she said. “The scholarship is a motivator, and it will keep me focused on working toward my bachelor’s degree and possibly even earn a higher degree.”

Jessica has altruistic plans, too. In the future, she would like to open a home for children without parents both here in the U.S. and abroad.