In celebration of Chicago’s Class of 2017, we’re launching our #BetterMakeRoomChicago social media campaign. It’s our version of former First Lady (and Whitney Young grad) Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room Initiative. We want to encourage and empower our students to further their education past high school whether it’s professional certification program, city college, or a traditional 4-year college or university.

We’ll be shouting out students all week on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and we hope you’ll join us. Use the hashtag #BetterMakeRoomChicago and we’ll retweet and share your posts.

As we post our stories, we’ll also embed them below.

When Julissa “Juju” joined the Western Golf Association (WGA) Caddie Academy her freshman year she had never stepped foot on a golf course. Now Juju is a course staple at North Shore Country Club (to which she has to commute upwards of 45 minutes each way) as a caddie. The members of the golf club love Juju and her genuine kindheartedness. Julissa has had to overcome several challenges during her high school years but nevertheless, Juju has committed herself to the Westinghouse community and is a tremendous asset to the student body and culture. “I cried when I found out that Juju won the Chick Evans Scholarship. This scholarship is life changing for her and her family. She is most-deserving and I am so proud of her,” said school counselor Adrienne Treado Nolan. #bettermakeroomchicago

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“Jessica is eccentric; sometimes she has blue hair, sometimes she has unique bracelets, or quirky t-shirts, but she always exudes self-confidence and humility. Jessica wants to pursue an engineering major, but she loves theater and music. Jessica says she may pursue a career as a thespian in case her engineering career doesn’t work out, but I have a feeling that it will. Jessica may make light of how hard she works, but she stands out among her peers in her grit and persistence. Some may take Jessica’s wide range of interests as a lack of focus; but in actuality, her focus on her future is exceptional. Jessica is just a rare, high-achieving teenager who likes to have fun and be theatrical while learning. The University of Michigan is lucky to have her as a future engineer.“ -Ms. Adrienne Treado Nolan #bettermakeroomchicago #cpsgraduation #ImCPS #chicagopublicschools

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“Jesus Rivera is one of those special students that we often only come across every so often. Born in
southern Texas, Jesus was raised as a Spanish-speaker and educated as an English Language Learner through second grade. Upon moving to Chicago, Jesus has continued to excel academically at every level. As our upcoming valedictorian, Jesus has not only been a 4-year student-athlete, running cross country and track, but also been a part of the University of Chicago’s Collegiate Scholars program along with Chicago Scholars. Jesus is a deeply compassionate and hard-working student who will without a doubt be a doctor one day. He will continue to give back not just while being enrolled at Northwestern, but
after graduating from medical school.“ -Mr. Rigoberto Padilla-Perez #BetterMakeRoomChicago #imcps #chicagopublicschools

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Excerpt from Chicago Tribune column about Clemente Salutatorian Barbara Jimenez-Soriano: “I met Jimenez-Soriano on Friday at Roberto Clemente Community Academy in Humboldt Park, a school full of kids who, like her, will be the first in their families to go to college. From the windows, you can see the city’s old steeples and smokestacks and, in the distance, the downtown skyscrapers. She lives a few blocks away in an apartment she and her mother share with one of her mother’s oldest friends whom she refers to as her aunt. Her father is still in the Dominican Republic. “I was really attached to my dad,” she said, “but I knew we came here for a purpose.” Her English is impeccable now, a feat she owes to hours spent watching “WordWorld” and “Martha Speaks” on PBS, reading the “Dork Diaries” series and staying late at school day after day to learn whatever there was to learn. From an early age, she vowed not to squander the sacrifice her mother made for her. “She sacrificed her life for me to have a better education,” she said. “I will repay her with my education.” #BetterMakeRoomChicago #imcps #chicagopublicschools

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Jesus “Alejandra” Valencia Medina is a 4.89 GPA student with numerous AP credits to her name. During her time at Solorio she was a founding member of the Solorio DREAM Team which works to advocate for undocumented students at Solorio and throughout Chicago. She was instrumental in creating and fundraising for the Solorio Dreamers Fund which awards scholarships to two Solorio graduates. Outside of Solorio, Alejandra was part of the Illinois Tech Global Leaders Program which develops leaders to implement community-based projects rooted in the STEM field. Her hard work and effort paid off this fall when she was awarded a prestigious Posse Foundation Scholarship to Pomona College in California. Alejandra will be the first person in her family to attend college. #BetterMakeRoomChicago #imcps #chicagopublicschools

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Luis Ortiz Juarez came to Chicago without knowing the city, the people, or even the English language. He has demonstrated an unheralded level of commitment to taking advantage of his opportunities. Luis has filled his schedule with the most rigorous courses available to him, including 13 honors and 10 AP courses. Additionally, in place of electives courses, Luis spent his academic free time in the Hancock Health Occupations Academy, taking coursework toward certifications in First Aid, CPR, and Occupational Safety and Health. Luis also earned a position with the highly competitive Northwestern Medicine Scholars Program: a 4 year practicum doing coursework and career exploration with Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Luis earned the QuestBridge Scholarship, which will fund all of his expenses to attend the University of Pennsylvania.#BetterMakeRoomChicago #imcps #chicagopublicschools

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Since her sophomore year at Gage Park High School, Jasmine Wells has dedicated herself to justice, her education, and her community. Jasmine has been involved in programs like Build On, which focuses on service projects in and around the city of Chicago. She recently went to South Africa and built a school and engaged young people and their families in impoverished communities. This experience was life-altering and gave her an even greater desire to make a difference wherever she could. After being exposed to the devastating effects of zero tolerance policies, Jasmine and several of her peers played important roles in organizing students to help pass SB100, a major piece of legislation that puts strong limits to the use of zero tolerance policies in all publicly funded schools. This required her to spend countless hours in Springfield, IL engaging legislators and allies. Throughout all this incredible work, Jasmine maintained excellent grades and continues to be a strong youth leader in her school and community. #BetterMakeRoomChicago #imcps #chicagopublicschools

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Keduse Worku came to Chicago from Ethiopia when he was four years old. His parents, who remain there to this day, allowed him to emigrate to the U.S. with his aunt so that he could have the best possible education. Keduse honored their sacrifice by working hard in school, first at Skinner West, and then at Whitney Young. He maintained excellent grades, and was admitted to MIT, Williams College, and Yale. Keduse chose Yale, where this fall, he will begin studying Physics. He credits his success to the village that raised him – his aunt, his parents, his teachers, and his counselors – and hopes one day to give back to his Chicago community.  Read his full story: blog.cps.edu/2017/06/23/keduse/ #BetterMakeRoomChicago #imcps #chicagopublicschools

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