Monday was no ordinary day for Josafat Quintas, who was informed he’d just been awarded a scholarship to attend Elmhurst College.
Applause from classmates rang out as Quintas was surprised by the news, delivered by Elmhurst College senior admission counselor Adrian Dominguez and Vice President for Admission Timothy Ricordati when they popped in during an English class at St. Francis de Sales High School in Chicago, where Quintas is a senior.
I was really surprised they were willing to drive out to my school to give me my award. I was kind of shaky because of the excitement.Quintas on the surprise
Elmhurst College has been partnering with the non-profit Chicago Scholars to provide scholarships to academically deserving, first-generation college students from under-resourced communities. Chicago Scholars selects, trains and mentors academically ambitious high school students to succeed in college and get their degree.
The scholarships are based on the federal student financial aid application and cover all the costs of attending Elmhurst College except for the family’s estimated contribution and whatever loans the student takes out.
Dominguez said the amount of a family’s contribution for students from under-resourced communities is usually under $1,000, and the amount in loans for freshman year is generally about $5,500.
Elmhurst College will award scholarships to six Chicago Scholars this year.
“It’s fun to be able to surprise the students. It’s a little tough to only choose six,” Dominguez said.
Earlier in the day, Dominguez surprised another Chicago Scholars Award winner, Yanisha White, at Our Lady of Tepeyac High School in Chicago.
The College provides a supportive atmosphere that helps the students thrive once they get to campus. A liaison is identified who meets with students at least once a term to help them connect with resources if they need support, and to celebrate their achievements.
“Students know they can go to them for help if they need it,” Dominguez said.
Rachael Accavitti, director of college partnerships and resources for Chicago Scholars, is impressed with Elmhurst College’s commitment. “They’ve been an incredibly supportive partner,” she said. “They take the time to get to know the students.”
Quintas has visited the campus three or four times over the past year and sat in on classes. “I saw that the curriculum is rigorous and it could help you achieve something,” he said. Quintas, who plans to study computer science or computer engineering, also likes that the College has gotten to know him. “It’s a personalized atmosphere. Having the sense they know me is appealing,” he said.
Dominguez said the partnership is a win-win for the College and for the students. “It’s really about adding more diversity and about giving an opportunity to students who might not otherwise be here because of the cost,” he said. “Being able to work with these kids, being able to help them come here where they can succeed, that’s what it’s all about.”