Leslie Coronel and her mother.Submitted photo

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Leslie Coronel had never heard of Amherst College before her junior year at Evanston Township High School. One year later, she made an “accepted student” visit and fell in love. A 2016 graduate of Amherst College, Ms. Coronel credits Evanston Scholars with helping her get both to and through college. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from college, Ms. Coronel says that, although her family always stressed the importance of college, they did not have the knowledge or experience to help her navigate the college application process. Evanston Scholars made her journey possible.

More than 300 community members came out to celebrate and support current and future Scholars at the Evanston Scholars annual benefit, POMP!, held at Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. on May 5. Ms. Coronel praised the organization in her keynote address: “I could go on and on about how I have benefitted from Evanston Scholars,” she said. “I found myself feeling out of place and uncomfortable, surrounded by people with completely different backgrounds from mine. My mentor and Evanston Scholars were able to connect me to resources both within and outside of my college to help me be successful.”

While an undergraduate, she studied abroad in Brazil, India, and South Africa, landed a coveted internship at Medline Industries and, upon graduation, found a full-time position there. Now Ms. Coronel gives back by sitting on Evanston Scholars’ Board of Directors.

Evanston Scholar Wesley Shavers kicked off the evening with a spirited yo-yo routine choreographed to music, after which he announced he will be attending Valparaiso University in the fall and plans to study engineering.  Executive Director Steve Newman welcomed the crowd and described the network of support provided by every Scholar’s family, mentor, and staff. The crowd cheered during a processional of the 31 graduating seniors of the Evanston Scholars Class of 2017, all of whom are attending four-year colleges in the fall.

The event raised more than $200,000 in support of college access and college success programming, ACT preparation, mentoring, college counseling, and college persistence support to help Scholars find their “best fit” school and overcome the obstacles they may encounter on the path to a college degree. More than 70 area businesses lent their support to the evening, either through financial or in-kind donations.