Pullman Scholar Alumna Bethsaida Arroyo Forges Her Own Path.

All things considered, it would have been easy for Bethsaida Arroyo not to attend college. Her grandparents didn’t make it through grade school, and her mom earned her GED only after Betsy was in 6th grade.

“She got pregnant at an early age and had to drop out of high school to raise us,” said Arroyo. “But she understood the importance of education and pushed us all to go to school. College was ingrained into my head in grade school.”

That was Andersen Elementary, the neighborhood school at Honore and Division streets which is now LaSalle II, a magnet school.

“In 8th grade, I was reading at the college level,” she said. “Not a lot of my high school friends went to college, but all of my grade school friends did.”

And once at Wells, the neighborhood high school, she hardly broke a sweat. “I wasn’t a test-taker,” she said. “I didn’t try to study. I’d wing it. High school was a breeze for me.” (more…)

By Asia Muhammad, Pullman Scholar.

ScholarCon is a place where you can dare, dream, and discover. If you are unfamiliar with ScholarCon, then it is my duty to get you acquainted. ScholarCon is a conference held by the National Society of Colligate Scholars (NSCS). There are over 300 NSCS chapters at various schools in the United States. This honor society is special because they award $1,000,000 annually in scholarships, allow scholars to network with established professionals, and hold a leadership summit every year.

ScholarCon is a mixture of awesome things. This conference gives you a chance to network with your peers who are studying a variety of subjects such as plant biology, pre-law, and much more. The conference also gives scholars a chance to attend several workshops where they learn how to apply for study abroad scholarships, develop a solutionist mindset, and how to develop a budget. Motivational speakers hold workshops, too, because the balancing school, work, and personal troubles can be very discouraging. For example, one motivational speaker stressed that it is okay to be discouraged, but do not stay discouraged—resilience is key. (more…)

An immigrant’s tale

Nadia Horb learned early how to think on her feet. She was born in 1946 in a displaced persons camp in Germany, where her parents were sent after being uprooted from their home in Ukraine and forced to work on German farms during World War II. As a toddler, she moved with the family to Paris. When she was 11, they decamped for Chicago where, contrary to popular European notions, the streets were not paved with gold.

In America, Horb, the oldest of six children, became a survivalist in an immigrant’s sense of the word. She was the first to learn the new language, the new customs, the mysterious habits and expectations that come with a new country.

Her father–Berezecky was the family name–opened a small grocery store in a Ukrainian neighborhood and depended on his young daughter for her rapidly acquired English language and management skills. The early years were lean. Spaghetti with milk was a typical supper. (more…)

There was no doubt that Marcus Woods would go to college. And thrive there. His mother, Sheila, pretty much required it. But for an only child growing up in a single-parent family near 77th and Bishop streets, having a will didn’t necessarily guarantee having a way.

When he was 14, Woods and his mother moved to the south suburbs so he could attend Thornwood High School in South Holland.

“The way I looked at it,” he said, “and the way my mom sold it to me, it was an opportunity to re-invent myself. We wanted a fresh start.”

The “re-invention” hardly broke a sweat academically, excelling in math and science and deciding, early, on a career as a structural engineer. Which, today, 14 years later, he is.

“My mom made the decision I’d go to college,” he said. “But the institutions I wanted to go to were very expensive. Coming from a single-parent family, I knew scholarships would be the only way I could attend the college of my choice.” (more…)