School: Lake View High School
Eighteen-year-old Vanessa Munoz had never heard of College Possible when she accompanied her friend to an afterschool session at Lake View High School during the organization’s inaugural year in Chicago. That afternoon, Tori, a College Possible coach, was leading her cohort in a series of math-related games to help them prepare for the ACT.
Vanessa, whose favorite subject is math, filled out an application shortly after. She was admitted to the program and began attending sessions regularly, eventually developing a strong connection with both Tori and her senior year coach, Taylor.
From a young age, Vanessa had a love of learning and knew that she wanted to attend college.
“On days off, I would actually want to go to school,” she laughs.
But as the first person in her family to go to college, Vanessa had no idea what to expect when she began studying for the ACT and, later, the college application process. She thought the entire admission process depended solely on grades and worried about every grade she received below an A. She also knew that college was expensive, and she wasn’t sure how she was going to pay for her education.
“I was so lost, I didn’t know it was going to be so hard,” she says.
With the help of College Possible throughout her junior year, Vanessa was able to learn about the college process, visit college campuses and increase her ACT score from a baseline score of 19 to a 22 on the official exam. Her favorite part of the experience was the overnight field trip to Goshen College, where she was able to experience life on a college campus.
When senior year came, Taylor helped Vanessa navigate the common application, edit her personal statement and even accompanied her to an on-site admissions forum, where she was accepted to both Goshen College and North Park University on the spot.
“She’s very, very passionate and driven,” says Taylor. “She’s committed to her goals and it’s really inspiring to work with her. Vanessa has done so much already and will accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.”
Vanessa has been accepted to 11 colleges and universities, and is currently deciding between DePaul and Loyola University. She is interested in studying criminal justice, but is keeping her mind open to other majors. As a social butterfly, Vanessa is also excited to explore other college extracurricular activities, such as Greek life and athletic clubs (she is currently on the wrestling and boxing teams at Lake View).
Her younger sister, a high school junior, is also determined to attend a four-year college, and Vanessa has already begun helping her navigate the college admission process. She says her parents are proud of her college acceptances, and believe that she is setting an example for her siblings to follow.