Toward the end of his senior year in high school at Von Steuben, Erick Tobar, in his own words, “had no idea where I was headed.” He had been accepted to five out of the six four-year universities he had applied to, but didn’t have the money to attend any of them. Both his parents worked minimum wage jobs and he wasn’t working at the time, so he had to find his own way of covering the cost of his education. He went to his high school counselor for advice on what to do next, and she introduced him the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s (UIUC) Engineering Pathway program at Wright College. She also encouraged him to apply for the Star Scholarship to fund his education. Thinking he had nothing to lose, he applied to both.

“About two weeks later, I got emails informing me that I had been accepted to the Engineering Pathway program, and I was also eligible to receive the Star scholarship. In a matter of two weeks, I had found a college with a program that would help me reach my career goals and I wouldn’t have to worry about the cost. Now, I am on my way to the four-year university of my dreams without having to worry about college debt.”

At Wright College, Erick is grateful for the guidance he receives in the pathway program. While all his classes are challenging, he knows he will be well-prepared to transfer into UIUC’s engineering program. He’s also become involved on campus through clubs and organizations.

“Thanks to the pathway program, I am able to not only be a part of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), I also developed my leadership skills as SHPE secretary.”

Erick will be transferring into UIUC in the fall 2019, just in time to take advantage of the free tuition that the school is offering to students who transfer in, on his way toward his goal of becoming a civil engineer.

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