There was a time that Stephen Young didn’t think college would be a good fit for him – now he is on his way to Cornell University.

After graduating high school in 2005, Stephen worked in bars and restaurants as he pursued his passion for songwriting. And he was successful – one of his songs was even featured in a movie – but he felt like something was missing. Part of his motivation came from books he was reading in his free time and informal discussions he had with friends who had been to college.

“I started thinking about what I really wanted out of life, and I had always loved learning. I never thought I would be good enough for college, but I felt like it was time to try,” he said.

He enrolled in Harold Washington College because it was affordable and was an easy commute. Later, he learned that it was a family tradition – his dad, uncle, and aunt had all taken classes there when it was called Loop College. Interested in the social consequences of media, Stephen spent two years working toward his Associate of Arts in Communications, which he earns in May 2020.

Not really knowing what to expect of his college experience when he started, Stephen jumped in with both feet. He became an active member of the Student Government Association and attended workshops through the Transfer Center, both of which opened doors for him.

“I felt ambitious – I wanted to transfer to the best school I could, but I didn’t know exactly where that would be. I wasn’t aiming as high as Cornell until I went to a transfer workshop with Jim Poole and Ellen Goldberg from the Transfer Center. When they introduced the idea, it was a huge shift for me and I wouldn’t even have applied otherwise,” said Stephen.

He will start classes at Cornell in the fall of 2020. His ultimate goal is to study technology and media from a sociological perspective, and help to create better media literacy amongst the public.

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