June 2015 Junior Alumnus of the Month
CHCI Program: 2014 R2L NextGen
School: Prosser Career Academy, Class of 2015. Lake Forest College, Class of 2019
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
In many first-generation Hispanic households, children serve as the lifeline between the cultural and language differences for their parents. For CHCI Junior Alumni Karla Velasco, growing up translating bills and important letters and making phone calls in English for her parents was the norm. As the second eldest, Karla was also responsible for her younger siblings, and stepped in when her parents had to work or were away from home. Today, Karla continues to support her family while staying focused on achieving academically and serving in her community.
Throughout high school Karla was enrolled in the most rigorous courses offered to students. For example, as a senior she took Advance Placement (AP) Calculus during because she excelled in her International Baccalaureate Accelerated Math Studies courses as a junior. Karla never stopped academically challenging herself in school. This spring, Karla graduated from Prosser Career Academy with an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, a 5.2 weighted GPA, and a class rank of 4 out of 295.
Her participation in R2L NextGen inspired her to become more active in the community. After the program she began to spend her free time playing games with senior citizens, working with students to enhance their reading skills, and cleaning up nature sanctuaries. Karla became a Chicago Scholars Student Ambassador for underrepresented high school students who are overcoming barriers to college access and successes.
Karla’s academic achievement and community involvement has paid off in the form of a full-ride college scholarship, awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, Karla is one of 1,000 high school seniors across the country that will receive a free undergraduate education and may also request for funding as a graduate student.
With her scholarship in hand this fall, Karla will be attending Lake Forest College in Illinois where she will enroll in the Pre-Law program. She is especially excited about living on campus and still being close to home so that she may continue to help her family.
Karla aspirations are to pursue a career in law and one day become an alderman or the Mayor of Chicago. She is passionate about helping people and giving the voiceless a voice.
This young leader is grateful to her participation in the 2014 R2L NextGen program. “My experience gave me the hope and motivation that I needed to continue my studies. After the program I began to believe in myself, my potential to succeed, and my ability to help others. This program inspired me and now I know that I can make a difference.”
The CHCI familia is proud of all Karla has accomplished and is excited to see the many accomplishments that will come her way as she transitions to college.