For someone who never envisioned herself going to college and who had numerous personal challenges to overcome, Chynna Hampton has done quite well for herself.

This 2015 graduate of City Colleges of Chicago’s Harold Washington College (HWC) is the first in her family to graduate from college, completing her associate degree in art. She then went on to receiving her Bachelor’s of Liberal Arts and Science in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and master’s degrees from Walden University in both public administration and human and social services.

As a single mother at 17, Chynna thought college wasn’t in the cards for her. But when she learned that by attending Harold Washington she could remain close to home, care for her daughter, hold down a job to support her family, and find time for classes because of the school’s flexible schedule, she decided to enroll.

“It was hard, but I had to do it,” she said. “My daughter could see what I was going through, but as I often told her, ‘I’m doing this for you.’”

With initial plans to pursue a career in education, Chynna studied early childhood education, something she felt helped her make a better parent. Even though she found her Spanish classes to be her hardest subject, she credits HWC instructor Margarita Chavez for helping her develop a love for the language and the motivation to complete her education.

After transferring to UIC, it took just one class in sociology for Chynna to fall in love with the subject and pursue it as her major. A commitment to public service spurred her on to complete two master’s degrees, and as a Pathways Fellow with both the Federal Transit Administration and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, she fell in love with government work.

Today Chynna is leading workforce initiatives with the Chicago Transit Authority, overseeing workforce development on the single largest capital project in CTA history – the $2.1 billion Red and Purple Line modernization project.

Chynna sees persistence as the key to her success – and the potential success of others. She advises City Colleges students to “persevere. Stick with it. Build relationships with your instructors. Don’t let community college be the end of your journey. All it takes is an opportunity. Give a person an opportunity to grow and glow, and City Colleges did that for me. It is the reason I am the woman I am today.”

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