Leslie Marquez was inspired by her 5th grade teacher, Daniel Alvarez at Jane Addams Elementary School, who made learning fun – and now she’s on her way to following in his footsteps and inspiring young minds herself.

“The way he taught us made us want to learn. I want to do that for other kids and show them learning can be fun,” she explained.

From Chicago’s East Side, Leslie graduated from George Washington High School in 2016. A move to the suburbs saw her attend Harper Community College, but when she returned to Chicago she knew she wanted to continue her education. She found that Olive-Harvey was the closest and most affordable option, and enrolled in 2017.

While a full-time student, Leslie worked full-time in various restaurants to support herself, then landed a job as an infant teacher at a daycare facility. She completed her associate degree in December of 2018, just in time to welcome her first child – a son – in January. As the first in her family to earn a degree, Leslie isn’t stopping now – she plans to continue her education in the fall with the goal of earning her degree in education and pursue her dream of teaching middle school.

Leslie’s advice to others who are thinking about pursuing a college education is simple: “It’s difficult, but worth it,” she says. And as Olive-Harvey College’s salutatorian, we think she knows what she’s talking about!

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