Javohn is enrolled at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and majors in Biology/Pre-Med. Read more to learn about his college experience so far!

What drew you to your college?

The first thing that drew me to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) was its outstanding reputation and unique medical school. It was a flagship, Big Ten school in Illinois, which was great because I didn’t want to wander too far away from home. In addition to its reputation, UIUC’s medical school has a more hands-on approach than a usual medical school – a product of an engineering focus. Once I knew all UIUC had to offer, it was unequivocally where I wanted to attend.

What are your passions or hobbies?

My passion is definitely medicine. Most of my extracurricular activities involve medicine. I love learning about the journey to medical school (MCAT, interviews, application phase, etc.) through my medical fraternity called Phi Delta Epsilon. Furthermore, I enjoy shadowing surgeons, volunteering as an EMS aide, and volunteering at hospitals. As far as my hobbies, I like to play basketball and read skill-oriented books (how to invest, how to flip houses, etc.).

Javohn with his fraternity brothers and sisters.

What’s your favorite aspect of college? What has your first semester of college been like?

The most pleasing aspect of college for me has been the educational gains. In such a short amount of time, I have learned so much more than expected. I can honestly say that I have gained knowledge both inside and outside of class, thanks to my extracurricular activities.

Overall my first semester of college has been such a pleasant, mind-opening experience. My high school excelled in academics, so my transition to college was not as much of a battle education-wise. Coming into college, I did not know what I wanted to get involved in and how involved I would become. Now, I deeply involve myself in both my academic life and outside of class. In a short amount of time, I became the Treasurer of Florida Council, fraternity member of Phi Delta Epsilon, EMS Aide in Illini Emergency Medical Service, and a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. Next semester, I look forward to participating in biological research on combating bacterial pathogens with therapeutics in a research and development lab, becoming an EMT, and possibly a Resident Advisor.

What do you like about being a Pullman Scholar? What does being a Pullman Scholar mean to you?

There are so many things that I love about being a Pullman Scholar. I love the fact that the Pullman Foundation stays in touch with Pullman Scholars year-round. Not only that, but the

Pullman Foundation hosts several events for scholars to reconnect. Being a part of the Pullman Scholars and Pullman Foundation is synonymous to being a part of an intelligent family that supports your aspirations.

Enrolled at the University of Southern California and majoring in Architecture, Yocelyn has already had an eventful first semester. Read on to learn more about Yocelyn, her education, and her view on what it means to be a Pullman Scholar.

What drew you to your college?

While choosing a college, academic rigor was equally important to me as finding an environment where I could explore myself and develop. I chose the University of Southern California because of the resources and opportunities it had as a big university. I always understood that my education was crucial to the future I wanted. As part of that understanding, I wanted a school that pushed their students to take advantage of opportunities outside of the classroom, as well as within. When I visited USC for the first time, I fell in love with four things: 1) the weather, 2) the appreciation for creativity and artistic expression, 3) the resources for Latinx and first-generation students like myself, and 4) its sense of adventure – far from home but close to so many new places to visit like Los Angeles. 

What are your passions or hobbies?

First and foremost, I love to paint and write. Since I’ve been at USC, I’ve gotten involved in many different organizations as well. I volunteer at the South LA animal shelter and am involved with the community garden, DACA’s Allies club, Sky meditation and happiness club, and the Bi club. Additionally, I’ve discovered a new interest in philosophy. As you might have guessed based on these organizations, I’m passionate about a lot of things—love, animals, equity among the human race, preserving nature and the environment, and understanding/learning about cultures, including my own.

What’s your favorite aspect of college? What has your first semester of college been like?

My favorite thing about college is the freedom it grants me. I can choose classes for myself and explore different aspects of my identity without restrictions. My first semester of college has been challenging. They always tell you in high school that college is more work, and I had mentally prepared myself. However, I wasn’t ready for the time-intensive work and all-nighters that accompany my architecture major. Aside from architecture, the thing I struggled with the most was finding my community on campus.

Eventually, I found La Casa, which is the Latinx cultural center, the first-generation group, and the beautiful community in the meditation club. This semester has been about finding my balance with schoolwork and time for myself. I found a few great friends, and when I’m not in the architecture studio working, I’m attending open mics, free concerts and events on campus, or exploring LA. I also enjoy contemplating how the philosophies from classes apply to me and my own meaning of life. 

What do you like about being a Pullman Scholar? What does being a Pullman Scholar mean to you?

I like being a Pullman Scholar because of the community and back-breaking support they gave us as scholars. They call to check in on me monthly to see how I am doing in college. The Pullman Scholars Connect portal gives us access to advice for college, mentors, job opportunities, and skill development. Being a Pullman Scholar means representing my city of Chicago everywhere I go. The Pullman Foundation saw a leader in me, and when I am attending my classes or doubting my abilities to succeed, I remind myself that I was chosen as a leader for a reason. Even when I doubt my abilities, others continue to see my strength and potential.

Sebastian is currently enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is a Biology major, violin player, and volunteer. Since he started, his first semester has been full of new experiences. Read on to learn more about Sebastian.

What drew you to your college?

The opportunities available such as, a strong Biology curriculum, the chance to expand my violin skills, and my strong friendships drew me to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

What are your passions or hobbies?

My passions are playing the violin, building houses for Habitat for Humanity, and the intersection of genetics and medicine. This is how I spend much of my time

What’s your favorite aspect of college? What has your first semester of college been like?

favorite aspect is being free to explore whatever interests me and pursue it to
the fullest.

What do you like about being a Pullman Scholar? What does being a Pullman Scholar mean to you?

I like the community, connections, and opportunities that the Pullman Scholar community and its Foundation offer me. Pullman Scholars are open-minded citizens. We use our talents and abilities to pursue our passions. Thus, we make the world a better place.

By Jasmeen Wellere, Pullman Scholar.

“ScholarCon was one of the best experiences I have ever had!” This is what my National Collegiate Scholars chapter president, Jamal Sims, explained to us during my first chapter meeting. I was somewhat exposed to ScholarCon through a flood of emails when I joined the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) as a freshmen and I just wrote it off as spam mail. During Jamal’s presentation about ScholarCon is when it became “real” to me and not just a stream of emails. As our chapter became more active I began to seriously consider ScholarCon as an event I wanted to attend.

Unfortunately, the cost was overwhelming and our fundraising attempts failed, so I had to cross ScholarCon off my to-do list. It was disappointing, but my thought was that “there’s always next year.” Surprisingly, that opportunity resurfaced sooner than I expected! I received an email from Robin Redmond, executive director of the George M. Pullman Educational Foundation, stating that they were able to fund a trip for two Pullman Scholars to attend ScholarCon. I was flabbergasted and I just knew it was meant for me to go—I mean, what are the odds that this could be happening to me twice? I replied immediately and just prayed that I would be chosen. (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…)

Billy Leung, Pullman Scholar, University of Michigan, ’16

In my senior year of high school, I remember being constantly stressed trying to figure out how I was going to afford a college education. Thankfully, my high school counselor told me about the Pullman Foundation. With the Pullman Foundation’s generosity and support, I’m glad to say that I have just completed my junior year at the University of Michigan.

The support I’ve received from the Pullman Foundation has been more than just financial assistance; the Pullman Foundation has also provided the resources to help me succeed in and outside the classroom, manage my time effectively, and reach my career aspirations. In addition to using the many resources on the Pullman Foundation’s website, e-mails, LinkedIn blogs, and Facebook page, I had the opportunity to attend the Pullman Scholar Symposium, where I got to meet other Pullman Scholars and Pullman Alumni.

At the symposium, I attended a personal finance crash course, where I learned the intricacies of creating a personal budget, saving for retirement, and building credit. There was also an etiquette seminar, where I was able to learn proper networking and eating etiquette. This came in handy as I had to attend networking events and dinners during my internship search this past fall. Finally, I was able to listen to a panel of four Pullman Alumni speak about their experiences from college to their current careers. After listening to the panel, I was surprised (and relieved!) to learn that life really has a strange way of working out. Some of the alumni ended up in careers related to their college majors while other alumni ultimately ended up in positions completely unrelated to their college majors. The Pullman Alumni taught me that it’s okay to not have the future completely planned out. (more…)

Daniel Jackson is dedicated to supporting his community and contributing to a brighter future. While attending Jones College Prep, he took many honors courses, served in Student Government and participated in many extracurricular activities. Yet Daniel still made it a priority to volunteer regularly at Red Shield Head Start in his home neighborhood of Englewood. He explained in an essay, “I want to teach the children in my neighborhood. It is my turn to be part of the village that supports other children like me in the future.”

As Daniel began the college application process, he discovered the George M. Pullman Educational Foundation while searching for scholarships on the Internet. (Fewer than 20 percent of Pullman Scholars chosen in 2014 learned about the Foundation solely through their own research.) In his Pullman Scholar application essay, Daniel wrote, “My long-term goal is to give children equity in their education…In my neighborhood, students often feel as if their opinion does not count. However, I want them to know that I will hear their thoughts and address them when appropriate. I love to share with them that they have to be persistent when trying to pursue their dreams.” (more…)

My name is Xiomara Contreras and I am a sophomore studying Communication Studies and Latina/o Studies at Northwestern University. I found out about the Pullman Scholarship through my uncle’s fiancé, who was a recipient of the scholarship about fifteen years ago. Last year, I had the opportunity to attend the Pullman Scholar Symposium at the beautiful Gleacher Center overlooking the Chicago River. During lunch, I met current and incoming scholars. It was exciting to learn about other scholars’ experiences, challenges, interests, academics, and involvement in college. I enjoyed talking to the incoming students because they had a lot questions about the college transition and simple things like, “What should I bring to my dorm?” I was able to give them advice, but I also got to learn from my other peers and how they overcame obstacles in school.

At the symposium, I learned proper eating etiquette, in case I ever have a dinner with a potential employer, and I also learned about money management after college. I have a better understanding about life after college, including managing credit cards, college debt, getting an apartment, and budgeting smartly. I especially appreciated the alumni panel. There were four alumni who explained their journeys from college to careers. Many expressed that they were undecided or learned that their major did not matter to the fields they wanted to enter. There was a chemistry major who became a teacher and an art history major who started a beauty salon business and was a gallery curator. I was happy to learn that my major would not determine the rest of my life. As someone who is undecided about what career to pursue, I was excited to meet alumni who made their majors flexible. They pursued what they enjoyed learning in college, but also chose careers that made them happy. (more…)

Get to know how our Pullman Scholar Helene Bansley, ’15, plans to give back to the community with her psychology degree.

Helene Bansley’s fascination with people and her interest to learn why personalities differ so drastically among individuals, led her to major in psychology at the University of Michigan.

This passion and fascination have motivated her to seek opportunities that would develop her interpersonal skills and allow her to work with a variety of individuals. And, what better position to work directly and closely with people than a resident advisor (RA)? Helene began as an RA her junior year and continues to work in residential life this year. She finds the most meaning in this job in the daily interactions with her supervisors, residents, and co-workers. (more…)

We are honored to welcome the 65th Class of Pullman Scholars! These 40 exceptional students join 121 returning Pullman Scholars (full list of scholars here) and are pursuing various majors including, English, biomedical engineering, social work, accounting, and many more at 25 different colleges and universities throughout the United States.

As these scholars embark on their college journey, we look forward to our next application season. The 2015 scholarship application will be available on our website in November. If you know any outstanding high school seniors in Cook County, please encourage them to apply!

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Get to know our Pullman Scholar Maribell Heredia, ’17, a neuroscience major at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Why Neuroscience? Maribell is drawn to neuroscience because she finds the processes of the brain fascinating, and this major will allow her to understand how people think and why they act in certain ways. During this past spring semester, Maribell took a psychology course and her professor was in the cognitive neuroscience field—his teaching inspired her to pursue this major.

In her spare time, Maribell likes to:  Explore museums, take walks along the lake shore, and meet up with friends.

This past May, Maribell finished her first year at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is on track to complete a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience with a minor in chemistry. Her main aspiration is to attend a prestigious medical school and become a doctor. (more…)

On May 29th, 2014 Pullman Scholars participated in the first-ever Pullman Scholar Symposium that offered panel discussions, networking opportunities, and career development workshops designed to give them the tools needed to thrive during college and beyond. Alumni, board members, and volunteers joined the scholars for an evening of networking and to hear keynote Pullman Scholar Alumnus Steven Fair speak about how his definition of how success has changed since college.

We’d like to extend our gratitude to the Pullman Scholar Symposium Planning Committee, our associates board, and other volunteers who worked hard to make our first symposium a success. THANK YOU!

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For many high school seniors and college students, ushering in the New Year isn’t only about the party hats, sparklers, and resolutions, it also rings in the FAFSA season (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). First-time FAFSA tacklers and even those who’ve completed the form several years in a row can feel the process is overwhelming and confusing.

The good news is that the Federal Student Aid office of the Department of Education has created helpful resources, including infographics, videos, how-to’s, FAQ’s, and articles to navigate you through the process.

If you don’t think you qualify for federal or state aid or you aren’t sure, a great first step is to verify your eligibility. And, there’s NO income cut-off for federal student aid. Everyone who is eligible should fill out the FAFSA. Follow the handy infographic below to get started on your FAFSA journey.

The Financial Aid Process

by FederalStudentAid.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.


At the annual Freshmen Scholar Reception on August 3rd, the Foundation welcomed 40 new students to the Pullman Scholar Community. Because of their commitment to academic excellence, their contributions to their communities, and their hard work and perseverance, these exceptional students will receive merit-based, need-based scholarships to attend the colleges of their choice.  Alumni, family, friends and upperclassmen scholars joined the 64th Class in celebrating their accomplishments and bright futures.

64th Class of Pullman Scholars

64th Class of Pullman Scholars

Pullman scholars, family, and friends bonded over a family-style lunch.

Pullman Scholars, alumni, family, and friends shared stories and advice over a family-style lunch.

Pullman Scholar Alumnus, Anthony Lindsey, gave a rousing speech for the new class of Pullman scholars.

Pullman Scholar Alumnus Anthony Lindsey gave a rousing speech for the new class of Pullman Scholars.

Some of the sophomore, junior, and senior Pullman scholars joined the celebration to share their college success stories with the new scholars.

Some of the sophomore, junior, and senior Pullman Scholars joined the celebration to share their college student expertise and success stories with the new scholars.