As a Lyons Township High School student, Jennie Bosas displayed art work every year in Elmhurst College’s annual High School Art Exhibition. The more time she spent on campus, learning about the art program and the College, the more she loved it. She became convinced that Elmhurst was the college for her, and that art held the key to her future.
As a senior, Bosas applied only to Elmhurst, even as she worried about whether she could really afford to go to college at all.
Then she found out about Elmhurst College’s American Dream Fellowship Competition, a scholarship contest that celebrates first-generation college students like her, and she knew she had to apply.
To enter, students were asked to submit a video on the topic: “As a first-generation student, what would graduating from college mean to you and your family?”
Bosas’ video highlighted her hard-working parents, and how despite their struggles they tried to support her passion for art and to give her and her siblings a happy life. She paid special tribute to her grandfather, who was only 5 when he and his family were forced to flee their native Lithuania and start a new life in the U.S.
“Through everything, my family persevered, which is why I persevere, and why Elmhurst College means so much to me,” she said. “I want to show my parents, my teachers, my family, that all the challenges they overcame made a difference.
“Nothing would mean more to me than to see my grandfather’s face on Graduation Day, and to make him and all my family proud of the work they’ve done to get me to where I am today.”
On Monday, Feb. 17, Bosas was named the first-place winner of the third annual American Dream competition. She will receive a four-year, full-tuition grant to attend Elmhurst College.
Brianna Migaczewski, a Maine West High School student from Des Plaines, received the second-place award—four years’ room and board at Elmhurst.
The winners were announced on Monday, Feb. 17, during an awards ceremony in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel that was attended by many of the 140 students who entered the contest, along with several hundred parents, family and friends.
Earlier that afternoon, the contestants took part in group projects and attended panel discussions offering resources and information for first-generation college students and their parents. Each contestant received a $1,000 scholarship to attend Elmhurst, and each member of the winning group project was awarded an additional scholarship of $1,500.
At the awards ceremony, Elmhurst College President Troy D. VanAken congratulated all of the contestants and urged them to go to college, whether at Elmhurst or wherever the fit was best. “Take pride in the fact that your experience will transform not only your life but the lives of everyone around you,” he told them. “Your experience will be their experience as well.”