Jonathan Torres will complete his entire college education for free, but there was a time he didn’t think he would even go to college.

Jonathan came to the U.S. from Mexico with his parents when he was just nine months old, and grew up on the South West Side of Chicago. He was getting good grades at Back of the Yards College Prep, but didn’t really see himself going to college because he thought it would be too expensive. Not wanting to let his parents down, he was delighted to hear about the Star Scholarship.

“Until I learned about the Star Scholarship from my high school counselor, I wasn’t going to college,” he said.

He chose Malcolm X College because his sister already attended the college and had good things to say about her experience as she studied to become a medical assistant. He even worked two jobs, both before and after school, to help her pay her tuition. Again, he did well in his classes at MXC, but thought the expense of a bachelor’s degree would make continuing his education impossible. His childhood dream of becoming an orthodontist seemed to be out of reach when the Transfer Director Natalia Zuniga, told him about the Dream US Scholarship.

“I spent months on my essay for that scholarship, but when Natalia read it, she encouraged me to start over and write about something more personal, something that helped shape me – so I wrote about my dad,” said Jonathan.

That essay, along with his excellent grades, helped Jonathan earn the Dream US Scholarship, which will cover tuition and expenses at UIC while he studies pre-dentistry. He is set to graduate this May with an associate in science, and will start classes this fall at UIC on a pre-dentistry track. He continues to work two jobs to help support his family, and dreams of one day buying his mom a house.

His advice to students just starting at City Colleges is “don’t limit yourself. City Colleges is a starting point. Have a goal, go to a 4 year; even if it might be a struggle financially – go for it. You never know what can happen.”

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