Naomi Esquivel always knew she had a passion for helping animals, but it wasn’t until a microbiology class at Malcolm X College that she saw more science-focused career possibilities. She decided she wanted to be a veterinarian, and to be able to make a difference.

Born and raised in Little Village, Naomi graduated from Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy in 2018. During her senior year, she planned to attend a four-year university along with many of her classmates, but paying for tuition was an obstacle she wasn’t sure she could overcome. Coming from a single mother household, she did not want to put a financial burden on her family that she knew they couldn’t afford.

During her time at Instituto, she had taken dual enrollment classes at Malcolm X College, so she knew the school would be a good fit. Then, when she heard from her high school advisor about the Star Scholarship, which would cover her tuition and books in full, she made her decision and enrolled at MXC.

“I know that I have a lot of school and a lot of tuition ahead of me, so starting off with earning an associate degree for free just made sense,” she explained.

Naomi used many of the resources available to her, including the Transfer Center, where she learned about guaranteed admissions transfer agreement to UIC and the transfer scholars program – both of which she took advantage.

“The Transfer team gave me a lot of guidance during my time at Malcolm X. It is tough trying to keep up in all your classes and then having to figure out the application process on top of that – it can be overwhelming, but they made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I really got the support I needed in order to succeed,” she said.

And succeed she did – Naomi graduated from Malcolm X College in the spring of 2019 and is now earning her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where she earned guaranteed admissions thanks to a partnership between City Colleges and UIC. She also earned additional funding because she is Star Scholar, as well as through a fellowship with UIC’s L@S GANAS program. Naomi is currently in the process of applying to veterinary schools.

“I would encourage others to start off at a community college. I did it and think I was more successful by doing so. City Colleges of Chicago is a great place to begin your college career and strive for your goals. Best of luck and remember: Si se puede!”

To learn more about earning college credits as a high school student, click here.

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