Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Precious Taiwo has watched as health care workers, including those in her own family, have made selfless sacrifices to protect our communities. Now, she says, it’s her turn to do the same by pursuing a career as a nurse.

According to Precious, “nursing is the backbone to the health of our nation.” This fall, the Truman College graduate will transfer to Northern Illinois University to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing, with the goal of becoming a nurse practitioner.

While she knows the journey ahead will be challenging, one aspect won’t be – the cost of her education. In fact, Precious’ entire undergraduate journey will be tuition free with the support of two scholarships – the Star Scholarship from City Colleges and the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Going to college without debt is a “life-changer” for Precious, who sees it as a first step to setting an example for her three younger brothers. The oldest of four, Precious had just finished high school in Nigeria at age 15 when her parents decided to move their family to Chicago in search of greater opportunities. It was a surprise to Precious, who had never traveled outside of Nigeria before – one that came with both excitement and apprehension.

Because her high school diploma didn’t transfer to the U.S., Precious enrolled at Chicago Math & Science Academy, which wasn’t far from her new home in Rogers Park. Coming into the school as a junior, when the college search process is beginning to pick up, Precious started to experience the pressures of figuring out where to go and how to pay for her post-high school education. She applied – and was accepted – to several four-year colleges, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to afford the tuition.

Then she learned about City Colleges’ Star Scholarship, which would allow her to complete her first two years of college for free. Taking advantage of the opportunity was “one of the best decisions” that Precious says she’s ever made because it gave her more time and resources to really consider her options. With that time, Precious decided to focus her studies on biology and also became the President of Truman’s Student Government Association and the Vice President for Membership of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

While Precious chose Truman because of its proximity to her family’s house in Rogers Park, she says that, “community-wise,” she couldn’t have picked a better place to be. She’ll miss her second home in Uptown when she takes another step towards her dreams at NIU this fall.

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