New partner Chicago Scholars boosts access, opportunity

Saint Michael's initiators excited to recruit 'academically ambitious first-generation' college students from under-resourced communities

September 30, 2020
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer

Chicago Scholars logoSaint Michael’s College has signed a memo of understanding with Chicago Scholars, a seven-year college access and leadership development program. The organization works with students in Chicago who are rising seniors, supporting them through college graduation and in career placement, said Michael Stefanowicz, director of admission at Saint Michael’s.

“Saint Michael’s College could not be more excited to roll out the Purple & Gold carpet for the students in the Chicago Scholars program,” Stefanowicz said. “Chicago Scholars employs best practices in college access by steering academically ambitious first generation students to high quality colleges and universities.” Saint Michael’s joins nearly 200 other college partners of Chicago Scholars across the U.S.

Mike S

Michael Stefanowicz

“Joint alumni of Saint Michael’s College and Chicago Scholars will be equipped to do well for themselves and to do good for their Chicago communities and wherever their professional lives might take them,” Stefanowicz said. “I’m grateful to Danielle Schiestle on the Admission staff for bringing to fruition this partnership, which is sure to add many diverse perspectives to our learning community. Danielle will work closely with Chicago Scholars as our admission counselor for Illinois.”

Schiestle said, “I strongly believe that Saint Michael’s College will be a great fit for Chicago Scholars. By doing well and doing good, both St. Mike’s & Chicago Scholars prepare young people to be the leaders of tomorrow in their own communities. I am so excited to be joining the ranks of many partner colleges who believe in the importance of college access work. That students will tangibly see our institution supporting ‘to and through’ work speaks miles. As their organization says, your zip code should not determine your life outcome. Our first event with Chicago Scholars will be an online interview day on October 27, and I can’t wait!”

Danielle S

Danielle Schiestle

Chicago Scholars on its website describes the population it serves as “academically ambitious, first generation college students from under-resourced communities in Chicago.” Stefanowicz said this recent agreement is his office’s newest partnership effort among several to grow diversity on campus and to invite historically underrepresented populations to see themselves at Saint Michael’s College.

Margaret Bass, special assistant to Saint Michael’s President Lorraine Sterritt for diversity and inclusion, is a strong supporter of the initiative.

Margaret Bass

“This news makes my heart sing! Our partnership with the Chicago Scholars Program will certainly enrich our campus in a multiplicity of ways,” Bass said. “Kudos to Danielle and the admissions staff for a job well done!”

Becoming a Chicago Scholar partner is a selective process for colleges who seek to be partners, said Stefanowicz, who emphasized the value of pointing underrepresented students toward high quality college options, given that one of the challenges in the college-access world is what he called “under-matching.”

“Chicago Scholars looked carefully at our graduation and retention rates and supports for first generation students and students of color, along with Academic Enrichment Commons options, and career development tools,” he said, noting in particular the College’s very active Center for Multicultural Affairs and Services and its Career Readiness program.

Alli Baird, senior Manager of college partnerships at Chicago Scholars, said: “Chicago Scholars is thrilled to establish a partnership with Saint Michael’s! We are confident that our Scholars will thrive in Saint Michael’s residential environment with a variety of wrap-around support services to guide our Scholars to graduation. We know that our Scholars who choose Saint Michael’s will arrive to campus as leaders and engaged members of the campus community.”

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