Born and raised in Chicago, Cindy Alvarez has moved around a lot within the city, but has happily lived in Englewood with her husband and five children for the last 15 years.

As soon as she graduated from Lane Tech High School in 1994, she went to work, got married, and had children. It didn’t leave a lot of time to go to school, so she put that dream on hold. Suddenly, it seemed, her children were teenagers and in Cindy’s words, “they really didn’t need me as much, they were off doing their own things. And I thought what am I going to do with the rest of my life? They were also talking about college, saying they didn’t think they were going to go. I felt I needed to set an example for them.”

And what an example she’s setting. Cindy is this year’s class valedictorian for Kennedy-King College, an honor earned by being the school’s top student.

After looking at other colleges, Cindy happened to be walking by Kennedy-King College and noticed they were holding open registration. She decided to check it out, since it was so close to home and not as expensive as the other schools she had researched.

“I was actually scared to go back to school and wondered if I was too old for this. I did well in high school but that was 20 some years ago – did I remember anything?” she worried.

But she felt comfortable at Kennedy-King. And after a goal setting session with KKC’s Transfer Director Kenyon Douglass, Cindy knew exactly which classes she had to take over the next few years to earn her degree.

“Suddenly, it didn’t feel overwhelming. I knew I could do it,” Cindy said. “The best advice I can give new students is go to your Transfer Center right away.”

But Cindy wasn’t only a part of the Kennedy-King College community – she spent her last semesters at Daley College, where she took classes and worked in the on-campus food pantry.

“I met so many wonderful students at Daley, and the staff is amazing. My time at Daley College really contributed to my success, and I can’t thank them enough,” Cindy said.

Her focus on transferring has paid off – Cindy has been accepted to and is deciding between Purdue, Governors State, UIC, Loyola University Chicago, and Saint Xavier, where she plans to study accounting.

And one of her children is following in her steps – he just signed up for classes at Kennedy-King and wants to pursue a career in IT. Cindy couldn’t be prouder.

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