As a student at Amundsen High School, Rashad remembers seeing flyers for College Possible but initially not giving them much thought. “I never really imagined I would go to college,” he said. “In my family, it was normal to finish high school and then work.”
His mom, however, saw a different path for him and encouraged him to sign up. Fast forward six years and he is now proudly holding a college degree in hand, having graduated from Marquette University this spring.
“Joining College Possible honestly changed the trajectory of my life,” said Rashad. “If not for this program, I don’t know if I would be where I am today.”
He credits his College Possible coach with helping him decide to go to Marquette, which was not in his initial plans. After countless conversations with his coach Zoe in his senior year, he began to envision his life in college and believe it was where he belonged. “Zoe saw my potential and knew I would really grow at a place like Marquette,” said Rashad. “I’m very grateful to her for helping me find that confidence in myself.”
Turning a talent for journalism into a future career
While at Marquette, Rashad discovered his passion for journalism, working as a student media reporter. Through this work, he learned to hone his craft as a writer and published several award-winning pieces, even receiving an Emmy nomination for a student news show he produced. This experience helped him land a position near home with a local news site, Block Club Chicago, where he is excited to begin working as an arts reporter this summer.
“Journalism is my calling,” said Rashad. “There’s so much information out there that people are not aware of, and I want to be the person to help project those stories through my reporting.”
Navigating his career path was not always easy, however. He is thankful to have had College Possible to lean on throughout college, especially when he needed guidance planning his career. “I always knew I could pick up the phone and call my College Possible coach when I needed someone to talk to,” said Rashad. “Not everyone has that, and it helped me a lot when thinking through my next steps after graduation.”
Rashad had the opportunity to further expand his professional network through a mentorship pilot College Possible launched this year. Through this program, he was matched with a mentor who met with him to talk through his career goals and connect him to others in the journalism industry. “It was helpful to have a mentor who was well-connected and willing to lend their expertise to young people like me who are just starting their careers,” he said.
Now, after walking across the graduation stage this spring, it’s hard for him to believe his college journey is complete. The moment feels even more special given he is the first in his family to earn a degree.
Rashad hopes to serve as an inspiration for younger family members, as well as other first-generation college students. He shares with them a piece of advice he learned through his time in College Possible: “Always take full advantage of the resources around you and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” said Rashad. “You never know where it might lead.”