CHICAGO (CBS) -- Making higher education accessible for first generation college students or young people from low income communities.
That's the goal of one Chicago organization. As CBS 2's Jim Williams reports, it has a 25 year track record of generosity and success.
Rachel Nguyen, a top student at Walter Payton College Prep, is the daughter of immigrants who came to this country from Vietnam after the war. Her parents, she said, had their children in mind.
"There's a motto in my family: Be more successful than the last generation."
Nguyen and her parents' dreams are getting an invaluable boost from Chicago Scholars.
"Chicago Scholars is an organization that for the past 25 years has helped young people get to college and through college," said organization CEO Jeff Beckman. "We believe your zip code shouldn't determine your life outcomes."
Chicago Scholars serves first generation college students like Rachel will be next year, young people from low income communities. Students from the city.
"They have helped me so much with perfecting my supplemental essays, navigating financial aid," Nguyen said. "And trying to kind of decide which school best fits my needs."
Chicago Scholars CEO Jeff Beckman himself has been in their shoes.
"I was the first Black male in my family to graduate from college," Beckman said. "So I feel like I represent who our scholars are. But when I see them and the passion they exhibit and the way they want to affect change in our city, it fires me up."
Rachel's academic pursuits are shaped by her family's story. A story of sacrifice and health challenges. Her mother has diabetes. Her father has arthritis. Rachel plans to major in biology and public policy, with an aim toward making health care more accessible and affordable.
"I think it's insane that people have to prioritize their survival over the other necessities such as putting food on the table or keeping a roof over their heads."
Eventual service to the community. That's the payoff for Chicago Scholars.
"That really is a story that should be spread across the country," Beckman said. "And I also believe that's what Chicago is."
"Chicago Scholars, without them, I don't think I would be in the position I am today," Nguyen said.
Next Tuesday, Chicago Scholars holds its annual Leadership Forum. Representatives from some of the country's top universities will be at the virtual event, interviewing students and offering letters of acceptance and scholarships. Click here to learn more about the organization and event.
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