Jesse Brito, a recent graduate of Malcolm X College, says that a sign on a CTA bus led him to City Colleges – not literally though.

When Jesse saw the sign, he had been working in a factory for almost nine years. He had always thought about going back to school, but a conversation with his manager about his future goals sparked his interest and determination to further his education. When he got home, the 30-year-old Humboldt Park resident looked up the web address from the sign – www.ccc.edu – marking the official start of his CCC journey.

Because he had never earned his high school diploma, Jesse knew he would first need to enroll in high school equivalency courses, and Malcom X’s free classes offered him the flexibility he needed while continuing to work a full-time job and raising two children at home. Then, after obtaining his GED, Jesse transitioned into credit courses at the school, receiving free tuition through City Colleges’ Gateway Program.

During his time at Malcolm X, Jesse’s studies focused on criminal justice. Now that he’s earned his associate degree, his dream is to continue his education in the field and one day work for the Department of Homeland Security, where he says he could help ensure safer Chicago communities for young people throughout the city. Come fall, he’ll take another step towards that dream by transferring to the University of Illinois at Chicago to earn his bachelor’s degree.

Looking back on the past two years, Jesse says Malcolm X gave him a “second chance” at his future – one that was able to afford thanks to the Gateway Program.

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