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Dominique Jordan Turner: I’m Dominique Jordan Turner and I have the privilege of serving as the President and CEO of Chicago’s Scholars. We are an organization that serves phenomenal young people from all across the city and we get them to and through college, but most importantly, back here to Chicago to begin their careers as leaders.
Most people don’t realize that only nine percent of low income students will actually graduate from college by the age of 25. Right, that’s startling and that is the problem that we’re solving, so we take first generation students from under-resourced neighborhoods and we multiply those outcomes. Eighty-eight percent of our students graduate from college within six years and that’s a game changer for them and their families.
Part of it is changing the narrative for what’s possible for them. When I think about Chicago Scholars, it’s connecting young people with the resources. They have the talent, right, they need the talent, they need the mentorship and the guidance and that’s what we provide. Right now, we’re serving about 3,000 students and we’d like to continue to grow on that to double that impact to serve 6,000 students.
When I reflect back on just these four years, there’s so much to be proud of, from the little things to the big things. You know, when I came there were lots of people who didn’t know the name of Chicago Scholars and now many more people are engaged into this movement, but the little things, it may be little to other people, but the stories, the students who come back, and say, “had it not been for Chicago Scholars, I would not have gone to college, I would not have finished college, or I would not have had this job.” There is so many moments like that and I can’t take credit for them, but we have mentors, board members, we have an incredible staff who put their time, talent, treasure into this organization because they care and it translates into beautiful outcomes for the people that we serve.
It doesn’t quite honestly feel like a job, it’s something that I would do anyway and primarily because I see myself in the faces of our Chicago Scholars. I too was a first-generation college student, from an under-resourced neighborhood here in Chicago and education has transformed my life tremendously. So to pay that forward to thousands of young people who were just like me, I would do that in a heart beat.