Thursday, April 21, 2016

One Man’s Dream in a One Man Show

by Anahi Alcoser Bravo, North Chicago Community High School '19

Anahi, Yveth, Brian, Jeremias, Alondra, Oliver

Brian Quijada’s life was a moonwalk, Michael Jackson’s anti-gravity lean, away from an exciting career. Brian Quijada was raised in the Chicago suburbs to two immigrant parents from El Salvador. “Where Did We Sit on the Bus” is Brian’s one man show full of music, dance and witty comedy. The show consists of Brian making up sounds, combining them and singing over them, which is called live looping. He makes sure to always bust a dance move anytime it is appropriate.

The title “Where Did We Sit on the Bus” as he tells us comes from a time in grade school when he asked his teacher during her lesson about the civil rights movement where did “we” (Latinos, Asians etc.) sit on the bus during these times of segregation. Aware of the fact that the segregation was towards African Americans, the teacher couldn’t respond and said that “we” weren’t there at that time. This made Brian think, “how did 'we' get here?" This is the question that people of color have and is one of the many uncovered topics of school.

Throughout the play Brian tells his experience of growing up Latino in a suburban community. He also talks about the adversities that come with being able to get in to the entertainment industry, and his families worries about his future.

A problem that people of color in America face today is how they define their identity. In addition, their stories of how they came to America aren’t brought to attention in classrooms and history books. They aren’t always covered in the lessons like in Brian’s case, but they are still very important.

Brian’s talent never failed to surprise me. As a young Latina I find it inspiring that another Latino has accomplished their dream in a place where we face more challenges. His performance showed that he is passionate about what he was doing. What I learned from Brian’s play is that not all of us came to America the same way, but it’s still important to know that we are here and our stories are told.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Happy International Women's Day from Schuler

March 8 is International Women's Day and we are celebrating at Schuler. We asked our Scholars to reflect on today and here are some of the thoughts they shared with us:

On their hopes and dreams for the future...

Jordyn Lofton at a recent exposure to the Adler Planetarium.
“I’d like to become a combat engineer in the military. I want to go to college and specialize in engineering.” Lauri Arizmendi, North Chicago High School ‘19

"My goal for the future is to be known for my accomplishments in life, not for my gender, not for my race, not for my sexuality, but for the things that I do as a human.” Rejanae C. Jemerson, North Chicago High School ‘19

“My dreams and hopes for the future are very specific and focused. I plan to major in marketing and receive my Executive MBA by the time I’m 26. My dream job is to be a marketing specialist in the cosmetic field. I’ve always hoped that I could provide for my family as a result of these accomplishments.” Jordyn Lofton, Zion Benton Township High School ‘18

Daisy Rojas
“My hope for the future is to become a math teacher or a dance choreographer. My advice for others is that you can do anything you set your mind to.” Cheytonn Orsby, North Chicago High School ‘19

“My goal is to have younger people look up to me, because that means I’m doing something right." Yveth Capote, North Chicago High School ‘19

“My hope for the future is to be successful and have a career. I want to have a better life and give my parents a better life as well. I want to give my parents vacations; I want to know the world with them and also with friends.” Daisy Rojas, North Chicago High School ’19 

“My dreams and hopes for the future it that I have a stable job and one that I love. Also that I can be a role model for girls not only in my family but also the ones around me.” Alondra Balderas, North Chicago High School ‘16

“My dream is to become an orthopedic or plastic surgeon.” Kenya Cooper, North Chicago High School ‘17

On strong female role models...

Zach Szekely
“My mom has been a huge role model in my life. A lot of my talents and knowledge come from her. I wouldn’t be the “me” that I’m proud of if it wasn’t for her.” Zack Szekely, Zion Benton Township High School 

“A strong female role model that I have is my sister because she has taught me to not give up and always try my hardest.” Edgar Gutierrez, North Chicago High School ‘19

“My mother has been a very strong role in my life. She came here when she was young. She adapted and graduated. Also when she was laid off she didn’t give up. Instead she went to college and earned a degree. She continues to work hard and go to school.” Joel Anguiano, Zion Benton Township High School ’19

Michael Waiters
“One strong female who I look up to the most is my cousin because she has received various scholarships, was the first in the family to go to college and is currently studying communications in graduate school in California.” Jose Tenorio, North Chicago High School ‘17 

“My mom has been a strong female role model for me because she has taken care of me by herself.” Michael Waiters, North Chicago High School ‘19

“Hilary Clinton is a strong female role model for me because she is brave enough to run for president.” Raeshaun Samoa, North Chicago High School ‘19 

“A strong female role model that I have is my mother. She has been there for me in the good and bad times.  My mother is an important part of my life and I don’t know where I would be without her.” Erik Gonzalez, North Chicago High School ‘19

On advice they would share with other girls...

Sharianna Wallace at camp this past summer.
“The advice I would give fellow girls is no matter what people think of you, to not let that affect you because at the end of the day it’s about you and you only.” Sharianna Wallace, North Chicago High School ‘19

“Some advice I would give girls is to never give up. There will be obstacles throughout your life but you have to get through it. Think about the present and future and try to forget the past and better your life.” Daisy Rojas, North Chicago High School ’19

“Balancing out your time for priorities is important. If you don’t schedule your time correctly to fit your needs, life gets overwhelming.” Elena Aparicio-Glover, New Tech High @ Zion Benton East ‘19

“My advice for a girl would be to dream big and push your limits. You don't how much you can do until you've done it and don't be afraid of hard work. Hard work becomes second nature to someone who wishes to succeed.” Jasmin Villaseñor, North Chicago High School ‘17

Jada Kilpatrick
“I would say to girls who look up to me to be true to yourself and what you believe in. Don’t mind the gender, language, or race barrier you can do anything you put your mind to. My hope for the future is to be a very successful anesthesiologist and enjoy life.” Jada Kilpatrick, North Chicago High School ‘19

“Keep on chasing after your dreams and goals without caring who it satisfies, the only person who it should satisfy is you because if you try to satisfy other people, you will never feel accomplished and happy.” Maria Ayala, North Chicago High School ‘17

Anahi Alcoser 
“The advice I would give to girls would be to not let anyone or anything tell you who you can be, who you have to be, or what you can or cannot do.” Anahi Alcoser, North Chicago High School ‘19

“The advice I would give to girls that look up to me would be to always be themselves. It's easy to get caught up in the moment in order to please other people, but it's okay to be selfish sometimes. I would also advise them to do whatever makes them happy." Citlalli Lopez, North Chicago High School ‘17

Thursday, February 11, 2016

My first semester as a Schuler Scholar...

Freshmen Scholars from various partnership schools reflect on their first semester in the Schuler Scholar Program - everything from expectations and camp to lessons learned and hopes for the future. 

Javier Cruz, Highland Park High School ‘19

Javier at Highland Park High
School's recent De-stress Fest.
The first time I heard about the Schuler Scholar Program, I thought it was a great program. I wanted to be a part of it because of the amazing help, experiences and opportunities that came along with it. I never once thought of it as being a boring commitment in high school, instead I looked at it as an opportunity that could get me through high school successfully. One of the first experiences I remember was going to camp. Something I will forever remember is the challenge by choice philosophy and all of the memories the class of 2019 made during our ten days there. We sat around the campfire with s'mores in our hands and listened to the coaches sing beautifully  and we played ninja a lot. I personally have learned a lot from the Schuler Scholar Program; I learned that asking for help is crucial, the proper way to eat at a restaurant, how to canoe, and much more. I know I will learn more things moving forward through Schuler and from high school. I am not the same person I was when I first started my freshman year and that is thanks to the Schuler Scholar Program. I feel prepared for what happens next in high school and in life.

Yveth Capote, North Chicago Community High School '19

My first semester with Schuler was a little more challenging than I expected it to be. Keeping up with Schuler and my school work was harder than I thought. Personally, it’s very hard for me to adjust to new things, but eventually I got the hang of it. Other than having trouble adjusting I’ve really enjoyed Schuler. I did expect for Schuler to be different and challenging at the same time, but experiencing it rather than being in it is different. Honestly, things like REP have helped me more than I thought they would. Having one-on-one support in English and grammar has made a difference for me. Brenda doesn’t only push me to do better but makes me want to do better. She pushes me out of my comfort zone and I've grown because of it. I also like that she constantly lets me know that if I need help with anything she’s there to assist me. In addition to REP, meeting with Sarah for extra tutoring on Algebra has also helped. I also like how she’s always so willing to be there for me. My goal for next semester is to focus on being more organized in order to better keep up with everything. I think that this will help me be more successful for the future.

Robert Chapman, Lindblom Math and Science Academy ‘1920564354512_28bfc8d735_o

Robert navigates the help maze at camp.
Camp Manito-wish for me was a phenomenal experience. When I was there, other Scholars and I were put into facilitation groups with each other, and we did many things I probably wouldn’t have done without Schuler. We went to a camp where we ate food at a cafeteria building and slept in cabins. We went zip lining, rock wall climbing, and did various other activities. Many things required me to actively participate in the group and tested me on my mental stability in different situations, but it was fun. Later, we were put in small groups with a trail leader to go on a three-day journey in the forests and canoe over lakes and streams. It was very hard to live in that kind of situation, even for just three days, but it was a good experience despite all the difficulties: no access to showers or baths, no indoor plumbing, a limit to the amount of food you eat each day so there’d be enough, etc. We went canoeing, which was very fun once I got the hang of it. We learned how to properly make fire by searching for wood and how to set up tents. One thing that this experience has taught me was to have the determination to power through each and every obstacle that comes my way. I learned this on my personal trip, when our group had to do three days’ worth of canoeing in one day. I think about this often, and since then I try to do any and everything I can in school, despite the task and the difficulties. 

P.S. Be ready for the Canoe Tip Test :)

Elizabeth Picazo, Highland Park High School ‘19

Elizabeth at a recent
chess exposure.
When I first joined the Schuler Scholar Program, I expected it to be crazy hard and only focused on school work and grades. But in my first semester of being a Schuler Scholar I have learned otherwise. Schuler is way more than just a school program, Schuler could be described as a community. Everyone in Schuler is really nice, smart and welcoming, and we all care about school and our future; at the same time every single person has their own fun quirks and amazing personalities. Walking into the Schuler program and beginning camp, I was a little scared and uneasy about what it meant to be a Scholar, but the environment and everyone in it quickly made me feel welcome. I loved the teamwork between everyone during the camp activities and sitting back at night after a long day in our cabins singing High School Musical. Schuler has given me opportunities like never before. One of my favorite memories was the Lion King exposure. This exposure was not only a lot of fun, but it helped me find a new love for musicals. Before the musical we went out to eat Thai food and it was amazing! I’m excited for the years ahead and for new memories to be created.

Suzie Navarro, Zion Benton High School ‘19

Suzie at  camp taking
a quick photo break.
Camp may seem like a scary experience if you're not an outdoors person or have never been away from home. I had never gone to camp before, nor had I ever been more than a day away from home. Yet, camp was one of the best experiences I ever took part in so far as a Schuler Scholar. Yes, the bus ride to camp was long, but I was able to meet and learn about the other Schuler Scholars on the six hour drive. Every day at camp seemed more like a one day field trip rather than a week, and I never felt homesick.  My favorite moment at Camp Manito-wish had to be participating in Wells Fargo, which is a capture the flag kind of game. We also got to go zip-lining, rock wall climbing and participate in the low ropes and high ropes courses and other fun games and activities. Towards the end of  camp, I went on trail with a small group for about four days, where there was only a little help and it was all on us to take charge. During trail, we canoed almost all day to get to where we had to go, getting little breaks here and there. At first, it seemed a little scary, but once I got the hang of the canoe, I’d say it was much more fun. Overall, camp was really fun and it increased my leadership skills, as well as partnership in groups.

Daisy Rojas, North Chicago Community High School '19

My first semester with Schuler was a very interesting and challenging experience. I did expect this from the program, because I wanted them to push me. One program that did this throughout the semester was the Reading Enrichment Program or REP. The REP sessions helped me improve my English grade. During the sessions, my Scholar Coach, Brenda, would always help me with my vocabulary and since I've been studying with her, I feel more comfortable with it. Another program that really pushed me were the mandatory study sessions we had in the beginning. They were helpful because they gave me time to do extra credit work in two of my classes, History and English. They also gave me the opportunity to study with a peer and I found that really helpful as well. I believe that the Schuler staff will help me be successful next semester, because they push me to keep on going, to keep on studying, to always do my personal best. They are also there when I need help on an assignment. Not only will the Schuler staff help me be successful but I will also help myself. I believe I can be successful because I know what I’m capable of doing no and I’ll try to push myself even more throughout the years.

Nancy Pulido, Waukegan High School ‘19

Camp Manito-wish was definitely an experience that I was not exactly expecting. I did not expect to canoe as much as I did nor did I expect the food to be so good. During camp we were able to observe everything without distractions. We were surprised by what we usually never notice. Everything was so quiet and relaxing. It was a great environment to grow, and we did. In those 10 days we learned the true meaning of leadership. We weren’t just leaders but also followers, for what is a leader without followers? Both “trail” and the high ropes course showed us what it would take to step out of our comfort zones. Now in high school, it’s clear that the transition was easier because of camp.

When we entered high school we already had a family of people who we could trust and get help from. We were prepared by learning how to use our resources and step out of our comfort zones. That was camp. Trail was hard core camping and the high ropes course was a hard core playground. The best thing about camp was that we were able to take risks and make wise decisions, bringing us all a step closer to becoming more responsible and independent people. Camp gave me a reminder of my commitment and continues to be one for many of us as we work hard in our freshman year.

Campamento fue sin duda una experiencia que no me esperaba exactamente. No esperaba remar en una canoa tanto como lo hice. Ni me esperaba que la comida estuviera tan buena. Durante el campamento, pudimos observar todo sin distracciones. Nos quedamos sorprendidos con lo que por lo general nunca notamos. Todo era tan tranquilo y relajante. Fue un gran ambiente para crecer, y lo hicimos. En esos 10 días aprendimos el verdadero significado de liderazgo. No éramos sólo los líderes, sino también los seguidores, por lo cual, que es un líder sin seguidores? Tanto "rastro" y las circuito de cuerdas nos mostraron lo que se tarda en salir de nuestras zonas de comodidad. Ahora en la escuela secundaria, es claro que la transición fue más fácil ya que fuimos parte de este campamento.

Al entrar a la escuela secundaria ya teníamos una familia, personas que podemos confiar y obtener ayuda de. Estábamos preparados por aprender a usar nuestros recursos y salir de nuestras zonas de comodidad. Ese fue el campamento. Las caminatas eran acampar núcleo duro y el alto curso de cuerdas era un parque infantil núcleo duro. Lo mejor de campamento fue que fuimos capaces de asumir riesgos y tomar decisiones sabias, trayéndonos todo un paso más cerca de convertirnos en personas más responsables e independientes. Esta experiencia me dio un recordatorio de mi compromiso y continúa siendo uno para muchos de nosotros que trabajamos duro en nuestro primer año.

Melissa Martinez, Lindblom Math & Science Academy ‘19

Melissa works with her team during
a blindfolded activity at camp.
When I attended the information session last year I never expected the Schuler Scholar Program to be this amazing and helpful. I thought the program was only going to help me learn about different colleges and apply, but it has surprised me. The Schuler staff helps us with the transition to high school as well as with subjects like reading, math and science. They provide tutoring and help with any assignments and teach us techniques that we can use in class and when learning on our own. They are always in the Schuler room after school and are always happy to provide help. When I heard about the exposures we would be going on at the information session last year, I thought they were going to be fun and a reward for the hard work we do. Don’t get me wrong they do that, but they also help by teaching us skills we will need to know for the rest of our lives. At the etiquette dinner, for example, we learned how to be respectful of others and have better manners. These are things we will need to know in the long run since we wouldn’t want to be at a dinner party when we are older and make a fool of ourselves in front of coworkers or maybe our boss. This program helps us tremendously. I feel like it is already having an impact on me, and I’ve only been in this program for less than a year. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Carlos Renteria, Zion Benton High School ‘19

Carlos and fellow Scholar De'Andre Alexander.  
Camp Manito-wish was an amazing experience for me. When I was there, I ate lunch with a bunch of strangers, I slept in cabins and did team building activities throughout the day. The last three days we were there, we went on trail. During the activities and trail I learned a lot of lessons. The best lesson I learned at camp was that it is always OK to ask for help. I learned this from an activity in which we had to go through a maze blindfolded. Before I attended camp I believed that asking for help was for those that could not accomplish a task, but after doing an activity where the whole point was to ask for help I realized that help is not just for those that are incapable of doing something. When we went on trail, I felt a lot more comfortable asking for help from my fellow peers and leader. This helped me a lot throughout the past semester because I felt that it was OK to ask for help from my teacher and classmates. Overall Camp was very useful in my studies, because without the lessons that I learned, school would’ve been a lot harder. 

Aneliz Vargas, Highland Park High School ‘19

Aneliz in the Schuler resource room
at Highland Park High School.
Coming into the Schuler Scholar Program, I had heard many things about the program. To be honest, I thought it was going to be harder than what I know now. While it's still not easy, I've found that Schuler can also be a really nice place to relax and it’s not scary at all asking for help from any of the Scholar Coaches. While I was at camp, I had a lot of fun and it required me to think a lot. The leadership skills from the activities we did helped and I can see them apply to what I do now. The best lesson I learned at camp was definitely about knowing my comfort zone because it’s helping me today in high school. During one semester in Schuler, I’ve been exposed to cultures and arts that I wouldn’t have without it. This has definitely given me experience, and insight on other arts and cultures that I knew little about. I look forward to learning more and gaining more experience with Schuler. I especially love how caring the Schuler family is and how easy it is to talk to anyone in the office. I’m proud to be a Schuler Scholar because this is such a great program and that it’s helping me get to college.  

Erik Gonzalez, North Chicago Community High School '19

In my first semester with Schuler I have learned many new things. For example, when we are with our REP coaches I've learned how to analyze a poem and written literature. In the writing STEP I’ve learned about other people's thoughts and controversial topics. In the math STEP I’ve learned more about mathematics with Sarah. What I expected from the program is exactly what Schuler provided, like push me to the fullest, engage in conversations and meet new people like I did at Camp Manito-wish. The programs that Schuler provides and that are beneficial to me are the STEPs. I don’t like talking in a group setting but STEP pushes me in order to make me feel comfortable talking to a group of people, it really has helped me. Another event that Schuler has provided is Camp Manito-wish. During camp I got to meet new people from other schools like Maine East and Cristo Rey. Camp also helped me to get to know people from my school better and from others. I believe that they will help me be successful and push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m very timid so I believe that if I can push myself then things will work out to be easier, because that is what we do in many of our Schuler programs, like STEP we share our thoughts and opinions. Also, I could be more focused or be more successful in my classes.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Education is for prisoners, too

By Ashton Hoselton, Warren Township High School ’11, Pitzer College ‘15

My name is Ashton Hoselton and I am an alumna of the Schuler Scholar Program, Warren Township High School Class of 2011, and a recent graduate of Pitzer College. Before Schuler, I never considered going to college, but Schuler taught me the value and importance of education.  They taught me that the sky is the limit if one keeps studying and I continue to see the value of education in my work today.

I am currently on a Fulbright in Uganda conducting research on their prison system. I have been teaching and conducting research in prisons both in the U.S. and Uganda for the past four years. The research is clear, prison education reduces recidivism. I have spoken with many former prisoners who shared their personal stories with me and attributed much of their success to the opportunity to educate themselves further. 

However, in Uganda only a small number of prisoners receive education. It is not a lack of willing participants or even a lack of instructors; the problem is a lack of facilitiesIt is my hope that I will go beyond simply studying the Ugandan prison system and make a positive impact by building an educational facility within the Masaka Town Prison. I have already started to raise funds for the project and developed a network of professors, NGOs, legal activists and prison officials that are willing to ensure that the construction of the project is made possible.

The potential impact of this project is huge as it not only makes a positive impact on the prisoners and the culture of the prison, but benefits their families, reduces overall crime, and turns them into skilled assets in their community.  Masaka Town Prison houses 1,300 inmates and sees many times that number of inmates coming and going each year. This one educational building can provide classes for thousands and thousands of prisoners and have a dramatic impact in Uganda.

Schuler taught me the importance of education. I want to continue to promote this ideal through this construction project that will make education a possibility for many that may not have considered it before. I invite you to learn more about my research and the Masaka Town Prison Project by visiting

Thursday, January 14, 2016

One tournament, two days, third place:
Richard T. Crane Medical Prep Scholars Take Home Big Win in CPS Debate Tourney

by Mish Gajewski, RTC Scholar Coach

Two Schuler Scholars brought their enormous talent to the table at the 2015 Performance Trust Public Debates, and walked away with a huge third place finish for Richard T. Crane Medical Prep.

Jenita Browning and Jennifer Banks, juniors in their second year as Schuler Scholars, led RTC’s debate team to third place out of 10 Chicago Public Schools, including Whitney Young Magnet High School, Lane Tech College Prep, and Jones WM Academic Magnet High School, some of the top-most selective enrollment schools in the city.

“Every tournament, we set a minimum goal for ourselves,” Banks says. “For this last one, we said we would win at least one or two.”

Banks and Browning far exceeded this goal, winning three out of five of their first sets to push them into the final four with Whitney Young, Payton, and Lindblom Math and Science Academy, another Schuler partnership school. RTC entered the finals in fourth place, but ultimately stole the third place ranking from the heavy favorite, Whitney Young.

Wins are determined by a panel of judges who monitor the competitors for their composure and confidence alongside the strength and effectiveness of their arguments. Every tournament requires debaters to concentrate on different skillsets; Browning explains that this tournament focused largely on “speaking, format of argument, and [their] overall presentation.”

“Sad to say, but at first we were confident but we weren’t confident in our success,” Browning says. “We were confident about the learning experience, but we didn’t think we were going to get that far.”

RTC’s third place pull was certainly a big “underdog” win. RTC has no seniors, so as juniors Banks and Browning represent the highest level of experience for the team.

Browning participated in debate in middle school, but stresses that the format then was extremely different and those years largely “don’t count” towards her overall experience in debate. According to her, she has only been involved in debate in a meaningful way since her freshman year.

Banks and Browning are close friends, and Banks states that this was a significant reason for her joining the debate team as a sophomore.

“I felt like mostly being with my best friend,” Banks says. “But, in a way, it’s another academic thing I wanted to do.”

Banks and Browning agree that their involvement in debate has had a great many positive effects in their personal and academic lives, even beyond supplying them with a sense of pride every time they see the trophy they earned in RTC’s trophy case.

“I was shy my freshman year,” Browning says. “I knew debate would help with public speaking and … it really opened me up.”

For Banks, she’s learned how to “create quick arguments” and “think on her feet” from debate along with amassing a wealth of public speaking skills and confidence.

Both Scholars look forward to their next meet coming in mid-January.