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collage of four CPS graduates all in a horizontal light grey frame

We know that being on-track in 6th-8th grade increases students' probability of graduating high school and enrolling in college, but how does this  academic foundation support the development of other skills students need to attain their degrees? In this series, CPS graduates reflect on how their middle grades experiences influenced their journeys to college and share the highlights and challenges that helped them grow through adolescence. Their insights inspire us to reflect on how middle grades set the foundation for high school and college by developing students' skills, mindsets, and relationships.

Kimaya's Story


Kimaya is a Black college student who grew up in Woodlawn. She transferred to several elementary schools before starting 7th grade at a magnet school in the South Loop. She is currently a Senior at a 4-year state university in Pennsylvania and is going to graduate with a degree in Psychology.

Alejandro's Story


Alejandro is a Mexican-American college student who grew up in West Lawn. He went to a neighborhood K-8th elementary school in West Lawn. He is the first in his family to attend college and is currently a Sophomore studying advertising at a 4-year state university in Illinois.

Zayquan's Story


Zayquan is a Black college student who grew up in Lawndale. He went to K-8 neighborhood elementary school with a Magnet Cluster program in Lawndale. He is a Sophomore studying business management at a private 4-year college in Tennessee.

Michelle's Story


Michelle is a Mexican-American and first-generation college student who grew up in Gage Park. For middle school she went to a 6th-8th school in Gage Park. She is a Junior at a private liberal arts college in Wisconsin, majoring in Business Economics.

The To&Through Project team would like to express our most sincere gratitude to Kimaya, Alejandro, Zayquan and Michelle. We appreciate the thoughtfulness, vulnerability and bravery our graduates have demonstrated in sharing their stories.