STAR Scholars: Achieving More for Less

By ChinHsin Esther Kao

Chicago’s success is also the success of its immigrants. On “Chicago Stories” this week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel sits down with two City Colleges of Chicago graduates to talk about family, education, and what it means to be a STAR Scholar.

Arturo graduated from Wright College with a 3.73 GPA and Daniela graduated from Harold Washington College as a first-generation college student — both attending for free, and both STAR Scholars.

Mayor Emanuel launched the STAR Scholarship program allowing Chicago Public School students with a 3.0 GPA or above to pursue a degree at City Colleges of Chicago at no cost. On top of avoiding hefty student debts, “you earn what you learn” as the Mayor says — having an associate degree means earning nearly $500,000 more in a lifetime than with a high school diploma.

Mayor Emanuel with Arturo, left, and Daniela, from the inaugural class of STAR Scholars.

Arturo and Daniela are grateful to be where they are because of this scholarship. Arturo says STAR changed his life, helping him find and foster a love for technology. Likewise, Daniela says this scholarship propelled her into a future studying biology and psychology.

Arturo immigrated to the U.S. with his parents when he was just four years old from Mexico. Daniela too came to the U.S. at a young age. Her parents drilled into her the importance of education, especially because neither finished elementary school. The STAR Scholarship provided Arturo and Daniela with invaluable financial aid that helped them access higher education.

Arturo will now transfer to UIC to earn a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, while Daniela is on a full-ride scholarship to Elmhurst College. They encourage everyone eligible to apply and begin pursuing a better tomorrow. To find out more about their stories, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or listen on Soundcloud!

7:58 — Finding out about STAR
10:39 — Fears of not going to college
12:48 — Giving back to the city

Mayor Emanuel congratulates Arturo at the CME Group Scholarship event. (Photo by Brooke Collins)
Daniela with City Colleges Chancellor Juan Salgado and Mayor Emanuel at the cording ceremony for STAR Scholars. (Photo by Brooke Collins)

ChinHsin Esther Kao is an upcoming senior at Wheaton College (IL) double majoring in English and Philosophy, and also pursuing a Journalism Certificate. She currently interns at the Chicago Mayor’s Office, loves her pet snake Simon, and thinks Snapchat is the best form of social media.