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…)