Front row (from left):  Tyler Tomasello, Caitlin Strickland, Jean Dorelus, Hakeem Quadri, Jocelyn Martinez, Amissa Page, Fatima Najera, Tianna Henry, Maisie Rosemond, Yolanda OdufuwaSecond row:  Alejandro Coronel, Christie Lamothe, Shavine Rodney, Braulio Miranda, Abril Miranda, Jacqueline Gonzales, Gabe Kudirka, Salma Martinez, Jasmine Medina, Jennifer Rodriguez-Gomez, Danielle Nicholson, Miyoki Walker, Georgia WalterThird row:  Yael Lara, Miguel Jimenez, Reggie Henley, Christopher Tobin, Joshua Rowzee, Ensar Uzicanin, Michael Barrera, Adilene Cruz, Erin McKenzieFourth row:  Daniel Patino, Eduardo Baez, Muhammad MustafaNot pictured:  Sofia Garcia, and Roberto Montoya

Evanston Scholars celebrated the initiation of its newest and largest class of 37 rising high school juniors at the Hilton Garden Inn Chicago North Shore/Evanston, on Aug. 31. That evening, each scholar was introduced to his or her mentor, a local community member who will provide one-to-one support over the next six years to help their mentee get to and through college.

Evanston Scholars is a non-profit organization that strives to improve college access and success for a diverse group of ambitious Evanston students who are primarily first-generation college entrants, low-income, and students of color, starting with the college admissions process and continuing through college graduation. The comprehensive six-year program offers workshops, mentors, ACT preparation, and individual college counseling to help students get to and through college.

“Our Initiation Dinner is the perfect way for us to welcome our new Scholars and mentors and kick off what we hope will be a fruitful relationship,” says Steve Newman, Founder and Executive Director. “This is our seventh class of scholars and we understand that the incredible success our older students have experienced is due in large part to the consistent support of their dedicated mentors.”

The 37 scholars attended the celebration dinner with a parent by their side, and after being matched with their mentors, began to develop the foundation of a support system that will be with them for the next six years. To foster their new relationship, scholars, parents, and mentors used “trivia cards” to share and learn about each other’s hobbies, interests, favorite music, movies, and goals. 

“Every young person needs a support system—especially when it comes to succeeding in college,” said Laura Maloney, Evanston Scholars Parent and Mentor Coordinator, adding: “We are thrilled and honored to have so many mentors who are willing to help a deserving student navigate the difficult path to college.”

Kris Anderson, a mentor to recent college graduate Khadijah Davis, said at the dinner, “Khadijah did all the work – she filled out the applications, she wrote the essays, she applied to the schools, she took the courses that she needed to graduate.  The beauty of Evanston Scholars is that she didn’t do it alone.”  Ms. Anderson added, “It wasn’t my role to tell Khadijah what I thought she should do, my role was to encourage her and help her consider her options so that she could make the best decisions for herself.”

Khadijah told the new Scholars: “Successful people never reach their goals alone…What would I want to tell my 16-year old self? Stay in contact with your mentor and work hard in school.”