Six Questions with a Soon-to-Be First-Generation College Student
STUDENTS | June 24, 2021
Six Questions with a Soon-to-Be First-Generation College Student

Jose Sanchez is officially a graduate of North-Grand High School, and, even though he is no longer a high school student, he’ll carry the lessons he’s learned over the last four years with him into college and beyond. As a setter and libero on the school’s volleyball team and a defender on its soccer team, he learned about teamwork and the importance of maintaining a strong work ethic. From selling tamales with his mom, he matured and gained a deeper understanding of how to take care of your money—and learned that tamales with salsa verde are his favorite. 

As Jose leaves Chicago and his family to pursue a degree in electrical engineering at Northern Illinois University, he’s planning to continue building upon passions that bloomed through North-Grand’s pre-engineering career and technical education program. Here are some other ways that his time in high school has prepared him to succeed in the future: 

What will you miss the most about being a student at North-Grand High School? 

I will miss the friendships and the good partnerships I have with the teachers and counselors. My friends are like a family to me. I take care of them, and they take care of me. We spent a lot of time together working on our school work and getting things done. 

I’ve had great communication with my counselor, Mr. Padilla, and he’s helped me a lot making sure that I’m getting things done on time. And I’ve had so many great teachers, including Mr. Moore, who teaches my engineering classes. He’s been a great person to work with and I love the way he has taught us. 

What is your biggest accomplishment in high school? 

I’m proud of the work I’ve done and the projects I’ve worked on. In one of my engineering classes, we made a 3D model of a restaurant. I was drawn into engineering because I like coming up with ideas and constructing them to make them come true. I also really enjoyed my math and science classes in high school. 

What advice would you give to future high school students?

I would tell them to ignore what people say and get done what needs to get done to follow their dreams. Make sure to take it step-by-step instead of rushing it because it is a process. 

How do you feel about being the first person in your family to go to college?

I’m kind of scared just because I don’t have anyone in my family I can reference, so I’ve been talking a lot with my friends and counselor about it. I do think that going to college and moving away from home will give me more responsibility and help me for my future. I think I’m going to keep doing soccer and volleyball in college as well.  

Where do you see yourself in 15 or 20 years? 

My engineering classes have taught me that I enjoy working with my hands, so I plan to get my degree in electrical engineering and go into flipping and restoring houses. It’s also a long-term plan of mine to get my parents a house. 

If you could describe your North-Grand experience in one word, what word would you choose? 

Surprise. I picked that word because there were a lot of things that happened that, in my mind, weren’t going to happen. I never thought I was going to be in honors classes and AP classes or stick with the engineering classes I was in. I’ve grown socially, grown my communication skills, and have certainly grown intellectually through the materials in all those advanced classes. 

Jose is just one of the outstanding graduates who we’re celebrating throughout the month of June. Make sure to follow Chicago Public Schools on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to meet more incredible members of the Class of 2021.