Cynthia Rodriguez dreamed of becoming a Chicago Police Officer one day, following in her dad’s footsteps. As a part of the Chicago Police and Fire Academy after school program, she was able to learn first-hand about what all our emergency responders do while she was still in high school – which opened to her eyes to the world of medicine.

“I thought what the EMTs were doing was so interesting and I just fell in love with the medical side of the program. I knew it was the path I wanted to follow,” she explained.

The program also emphasized the benefits of the Star Scholarship, which would pay for her tuition and books as she earned her associate degree. When she was getting ready to graduate from John F. Kennedy High School, she did some research and learned that Malcolm X College is the center of excellence for healthcare education. Once she saw the virtual hospital, she was sold.

“I was so excited about earning the Star Scholarship. They’ve paid for everything from my tuition to my scrubs and stethoscope. I want to let other students know about this amazing opportunity, no matter what they want to study,” she said.

Her parents were also thrilled, as the Star Scholarship wasn’t around when they helped Cynthia’s older sister pay for college.

She has already completed the credential to be a Certified Nursing Assistant, and is applying to the nursing school at Malcolm X College to continue her education. Eventually, she’d like to earn a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in nursing, and wants to be a neonatal nurse.

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