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Success Stories


Fatima Peters
GED Graduate, 2017
Wilbur Wright College
Fatima Peters decided to return to school to get her GED because of the possibility of a new job – and now she’s on her way to getting her bachelor’s in secondary education.
Fatima left Schurz High School after her junior year because her dad was strict and didn’t want her attending a co-ed high school. She then attended classes for a year at a school that ended up being unaccredited, and once she realized that she had wasted her money, she felt as though she was done with school. She then met her now-husband and they started a family, so getting her high school diploma wasn’t a priority. As her son got older, she started volunteering at his elementary school, which turned into a job as a teacher’s assistant, and then into a job as the school’s librarian.
When her son started high school, Fatima became very active on the Local School Council and booster club. There was a job at the school that was perfect for her – she would be able to work in the classroom and to use her Arabic language skills to help students. The one hurdle was that she needed to have her high school diploma or GED. While she was driving one day, she saw an advertisement for free GED classes and took it as a sign – she started taking GED prep classes at Wright College shortly thereafter.
Admitting that she struggled with math and science, Fatima found support from her family as well as from adult educator Karrie Simmons, who she considered to be “an adviser, counselor, therapist – everything! It would have been easy for me to give up, but I had someone who was in my corner, who held me accountable. I really relied on her.”
But she knew that it was important for her to earn her GED not just for a job, but for her son. “He never knew I didn’t get my high school diploma, and I was embarrassed to have that conversation. Here I was, telling him to stay in school and that education is so important, but I felt like a hypocrite.”
Her son was incredibly supportive, and learning the same subjects actually came in handy, as she was able to use his books and materials as resources, and he was able to help explain some math concepts that she was struggling with.
When asked what she would say to those who are unsure if they should go back to school, she says “When you’re out of school for so long, you feel like you aren’t smart enough. I think that moms especially feel like they have to put everyone else first and that between work and family, you don’t have time. It’s time to put yourself first. If I can do it, you can do it.”
In July 2017, Fatima earned her GED, by August she had landed a job as a student support specialist at a CPS high school, and by September she was taking classes at Northeastern Illinois University on a full scholarship to get her bachelor’s degree in secondary education. With her sights set on being an ESL teacher, Fatima is well on her way to conquering her next challenge.


Kenneth Linares, 2017 Valedictorian
AES Degree, 2017
Wilbur Wright College

In his own words, Wright College was Kenny’s second chance at an education and he was grateful for the opportunity to prove himself academically. Kenny dropped out of high school and headed into the working world as an electrical technician working on industrial electrical equipment. He found himself wondering how the equipment he was fixing actually worked. He also thought he’d like to be the person designing it. He looked around and thought that it was too easy to keep letting time slide by, and decided to get his GED. After passing the GED exam, he headed to Wright College at the recommendation of some of his coworkers.

There, he found himself a part of a community of classmates and faculty who were passionate about what they were teaching. “Wright lets you connect with your professor and classmates more than you would at a larger college. At Wright, you build a lot of relationships with fellow classmates and teachers.”

These close relationships and access to faculty helped Kenny overcome his biggest challenge: believing he could go back to school and do well. “I don’t really think I believed that I was capable of things. I didn’t believe in myself. I dropped out of high school, so I started with small goals and kept building: get my GED, go back to school, figure out what I want to do, figure out where I want to transfer. I finally realized I wasn’t giving myself enough credit and learned that if I truly set my mind to something, I could do it.”

This dedication and hard work has led Kenny to study computer engineering at the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, where he began classes this semester. He says the transition has been smooth and he feels as though his classes at Wright prepared him to jump into classes as a junior. He also thinks that community colleges don’t get enough credit. “The theory is that if you start at a community college, you aren’t going to succeed, but students need to get past that stigma – going this route can be just as fruitful and lead to the same success as starting at a 4-year institution.”

ll, Kenny says he wouldn’t change anything about his educational journey. “I want to give a huge shout out to Wright College. It opened doors for me – I wouldn’t be at U of I and I wouldn’t have been able to follow my passion. I was given a second chance and I was welcomed with open arms – not all schools would do that.

Jessica McBride, 2017 Salutatorian
AA Degree, 2017
Wilbur Wright College

After leaving the Army, Jessica was interested in starting college, but was unsure where to start because her husband was still serving and she didn’t know about different resources available at her base. After her husband ended his service, they moved to Chicago and both of them started thinking about what higher education options were available to them. Working with the Veterans Services Center at Wright College, both of them were able to coordinate the paperwork required to utilize benefits like the GI Bill to help fund their education. 

Jessica was ready to get back in the classroom, so despite being pregnant with her second child, she started classes and got off to a very good start. The strength and determination she learned in the Army served her well at the end of her first semester. Because her daughter was delivered a month early, she found herself finishing her finals from a delivery room hospital bed. “I didn’t ask for extensions,” she says. “I felt like it didn’t really slow me down that much.”

That drive to succeed and accomplish goals is certainly a family quality. Both Jessica and her husband will be walking in the 2017 Commencement Ceremony with honors. Jessica is transferring to Northeastern Illinois University to complete her degree in Education. She wants to start a career as a high school teacher and eventually complete her Master’s Degree in Literature or English.


Rachel Weaver, 2016 Valedictorian
AA Degree, 2016
Wilbur Wright College     

Rachel always planned on going to college. When the time came to choose a school, she got some help from her grandmother. As a former employee at City Colleges of Chicago, her grandmother thought it would be a great environment for Rachel.   

Like many students, Rachel was pleased with the affordability of Wright College. What she wasn’t expecting is how engaged her teachers were in helping her succeed. “They really push you to be your best,” she said. “They want you to do well and they push you to get involved.”   

Even though her father was a doctor and her mother is a nurse, Rachel is going to take a slightly different career path. During the summer of 2015, Rachel started working with animals after surgery at PAWS Chicago. She’s been gaining career experience in that position since graduating in December. She will be starting a bachelor’s program in the fall before she eventually heads to veterinary school.   

Monet Worsham, 2016 Salutatorian
AA Degree, 2016
Wilbur Wright College  ​

Thanks to a lot of hard work, Monet Worsham is on the fast track to a college degree. Not only did Monet get the credits needed to graduate high school early, but she took AP classes while going to school at Lane Tech College Prep that gave her college credit before she graduated. When cost became a factor for her college future, Monet realized going to Wilbur Wright College was going to be her best option.  

She met with challenge in her first semester when her grandfather passed away after a battle with cancer. While it was difficult for her to prioritize school during this period, resources at Wright College kept her on course to succeed. She credits her advisor with keeping her focused on her goal of graduating on time.   

Monet feels a sense of freedom after graduating without the debt that comes from a four-year school. She plans to transfer to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to major in chemical engineering. What she will miss is the sense of community at Wright College. There were always events and groups to be a part of and getting involved, she says, was a great way to make every day a little better.   


Student.Eric Lund.CapGown.jpg

Eric Lund, 2015 Valedictorian
AA Degree, 2015       
Wilbur Wright College        
Eric Lund is a manager and analyst for an insurance marketing company.  Eric has 22 years of experience working in Finance.  He received his associate degree from Wilbur Wright College, where he graduated as valedictorian of his class, and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.  Eric grew up in western Massachusetts, but moved to Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 20.  His employer relocated him to the Chicago area in 2010. Eric has one son, Chad, who is 29 years old, and two grandsons; Pacey, age 4 and Noah, age 2.
Eric says that going back to school was tough at first. Being a professional for over 20 years, it was shocking and overwhelming for him. For the first time in a long time, he had to make real sacrifices about how he managed his free time. Thanks to Wright College’s robust online program, Eric completed his degree on his time, on his terms. Even in the online medium, he always got help when he needed, or in some cases -- thanks to his 20+ years in finance -- helped others when they needed help.
Eric loves animals and has a beloved Boxer named Duncan. Eric’s goal is to finish his education, and open a dog hotel and daycare. Currently, Eric is enrolled at the University of Illinois at Springfield, in the Bachelor of Business Administration program, with the goal of graduating in May 2017.






Lucia Pules        
GED Graduate, 2014        
Wilbur Wright College        

Upon Lucia Pules’ arrival in the United States from Mexico in 2011, she felt that “it seemed impossible to succeed” because she did not speak English.        
A neighbor informed Lucia about a free English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) class at Wright College and she signed up for classes in the fall semester of 2011. After just two months of studying English at Wright College, Lucia advanced to the third and fourth levels of English.        
Still, Lucia had much more to accomplish. In Fall 2012, she enrolled in free GED classes at Wright’s Humboldt Park campus. During the Spring 2013 semester, Lucia applied to receive her GED and passed the Constitution test on the first try. By February, Lucia had passed the entire exam except for the writing portion, which she passed in Fall 2013. “I was shocked,” Lucia said, “but realized this is what can happen when I can envision all of my goals.”        
Lucia entered the Healthcare Bridge Program in the fall of 2013 and recently completed BIO120, a credit class, where she learned medical terminology. Lucia’s goal is to become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. “This program gave me the confidence to know that I have the help I need to succeed,” said Lucia.        

“As one of Lucia’s teachers for the Bridge program I had the privilege of witnessing her commitment toward learning,” said Adult Educator Ms. Jan, “Lucia never missed a day of class. She was always prepared with an unending desire for knowledge.”        

Of her journey, Lucia said, “I can definitely say that without the help of all my teachers and the personnel working in these two amazing places, I wouldn’t be here succeeding.” Lucia is excited to start classes in the Gateway to the City Colleges of Chicago Program.        

Carl Allen, 2014 Valedictorian         
AA Degree         
Class of 2014          

Wright College 2014 valedictorian Carl Allen was born in Chicago and spent most of his childhood on the West Side in North Lawndale. He was homeschooled as a child.         
In 2006, he moved to Kankakee, Illinois, where he worked at Lorenzo Smith Elementary School in IT support. Four years later, he returned to Chicago, began attending Wright College and is now graduating at the top of his class and earning his Associate in Arts degree.         

Carl is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and completed courses in the Great Books and Global Studies programs.         

Carl credits his professors and parents with providing the support he needed to achieve at the highest levels. Academically, he credits Wright’s Math Tutoring Center and its interactive, hands-on focus, for turning his math struggles into success. He also utilized Wright’s Writing Center for support and ideas.         
Carl advises students to ask for help from their professors and to take advantage of all of the resources available to them through Wright College.         
Carl’s favorite subjects at Wright included literature and political science. With interests in web design and writing, Carl is considering studying graphic design, journalism or digital media at a four-year college or university.         

Wright College GED - Stephen K web.jpgStephen Kosek       
GED Graduate, 2013           
Wilbur Wright College           
Stephen Kosek struggled academically in high school and dropped out a decade ago. He enrolled in a GED program a few years after high school but family commitments took precedent so he wasn’t able to finish. He returned to the GED courses in January 2012 and learned about City Colleges’ Gateway program which gave him the motivation he needed to pass the GED and enroll in college courses, all while holding three different retail jobs. The Gateway program provides Adult Education students an opportunity to continue their studies at the City Colleges by taking college credit courses at a reduced cost while receiving academic and social support. It also helped Stephen realize that he could be a college student, something he had never considered before. Stephen is excited to pursue an associate degree at Wright College with the goal of going into a health-related career.       


Edgar and Mario Arroyo
GED Graduates, 2013
Wilbur Wright College


Edgar Arroyo came to Wright College to earn his GED so he could qualify for a promotion at work. Unfortunately he was laid off from his job before he could finish the program. That gave him the ability to check out the Gateway Program and advance his education. Edgar has new goals in mind now: earning his associate degree, transferring to a four-year institution to pursue his bachelor's degree and earning his photography certification to work as a professional photographer. His success and drive inspired his younger brother Mario to return to school as well. They received their GED certificates together.           



Roger Burt
A.S. Degree
Class of 2013

Wright College 2013 valedictorian Roger Burt discovered a passion for mathematics at Wright College and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the subject. He enjoyed working as a senior tutor in Wright College’s Math Lab, helping students improve their math skills and would like to teach college math someday. Roberg followed in his father’s footsteps as the second generation of his family to graduate from Wright College.


Kaitlyn Mott - grad -web.jpg 
Kaitlyn Mott       
A.A. Degree           
Class of 2013           
Kaitlyn Mott took advantage of the many clubs at Wright College including Phi Theta Kappa, Great Books Student Society and the History Club. She participated in the University of Illinois-Chicago Guaranteed Admissions Transfer (GAT) program, a program that guarantees admission to select UIC colleges for City Colleges of Chicago students. Kaitlyn will major in psychology with a focus on neuroscience and a minor in women’s studies at UIC and plans to continue on to graduate school.