SCHOOLS, STUDENTS | June 9, 2020
Two Prosser Career Academy Students who Took Advantage of Opportunities in High School to Discover their Passions
When Efrain Cifuentes attends the University of Chicago in Hyde Park next year, he will literally be traveling from one edge of the city to the other. Efrain chose to stay close to his Northwest Side home by attending Locke Elementary School and Prosser Career Academy and pushed himself academically by pursuing Prosser’s rigorous IB curriculum. During high school, he solidified his interests in math and science, which helped him decide to strive toward a pre-med track in college. Even though it’ll be a big undertaking, his teachers and counselor at Prosser know he is up for the challenge.
“Efrain is the most academically gifted student who I’ve ever worked with in my 13 years at Prosser,” said Matthew Connolly, Efrain’s counselor. “Even with the success that he’s had since school comes extremely easy to him, he’s very humble and kind and a really great person.”
Unlike Efrain, Prosser senior Jocelyn Ortiz Ramirez decided upon her career goals through her extracurricular pursuits. She notes that one of the most important choices she made in high school was joining Prosser’s Dreamers Club. Learning to emphasize with the struggles of others was the first step in realizing her dream to attend law school and become an immigration lawyer. But first, she plans to explore her passion for art by attending Columbia College and majoring in animation. Her time at Prosser has helped her understand that she is capable of accomplishing anything she works toward.
“In elementary school, I grew a lot emotionally and developed motivation to prove people wrong,” said Jocelyn. “At Prosser, I’ve become more sure of myself and what I want to do. It definitely impacted me, so I hope the Dreamers Club continues to grow and empower future Prosser students.”
Efrain also understands the importance of having an extracurricular to look forward to. In high school, he focused on track, which he says helped him grow by being more open with people and communicative. He goes so far as to describe his four years at Prosser as “fun” because of the strong social bonds he formed, explaining that everyone at the school helped him see his education more as entertainment.
“Prosser has an overall great environment because there are so many amazing teachers who are dedicated to helping their students grow and learn, and the counselors are always there for us too,” said Efrain. “There are so many different people to meet at Prosser, and they’re all so interesting.”
As Jocelyn prepares to graduate from Prosser, she wants future high school students to remember that everyone’s high school experience has ups and downs. While part of her wants to view wrapping up her experience learning remotely as a loss, she’s also amazed that her time in CPS is ending in such a historic way. Her last few days of high school are reflective of her time at Prosser as a whole—fueled by supportive teachers who understand her and work with her to achieve the best results possible.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing when people get to know themselves in high school by experiencing life in many different ways,” said Jocelyn. “The journey is so worth it because it makes you who you are.”