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January 2021
Excel Beyond 211
December Graduates!

     EB211 celebrates the following students who persevered through the COVID pandemic and remote learning challenges to complete their graduation in December 2020! Some graduated in four years while others persisted and finished in 6 years. What follows are thumbnail sketches of their successes. Fuller biographies will be featured with the rest of this year's graduating class in our annual Summer Celebration program. 
      Now these graduates are embarking on their next chapter.  Some, like Oscar Mercado, have already started new jobs.  Oscar has been hired as a new teacher at the Winston Campus in District 15. Others, like Kristopher Cordova, are busy with their job search. Kristopher enthusiastically reports that he has lined up several job interviews in his field of biochemistry. He has this advice for his EB211 colleagues still pursuing their degrees: "Never stop trying, no matter what happens; perseverance is won by persistence and stubbornness, with a dash of luck. Make some friends and connections while you're at it; you'll make this journey easier for yourself with a little help and support. Cherish your wins, and learn from your mistakes. Follow your heart, and don't regret what you've done. Truly learn from your experiences and keep moving forward." Julie Lorenzo, another recent graduate, advises: "Keep networking. Making friends, conversing with professors, and attending events can lead to future opportunities. I know I certainly have had these beneficial experiences lead to getting internships. It can be hard to step out of the comfort zone, but networking has allowed me to have a successful academic experience so far."
    Our supporters send best wishes to all of the graduates as they move forward in their chosen careers. Please stay in touch with EB211 and keep us updated on your endeavors. We are sure they will be full of accomplishments and surprises! Congratulations to all!

Karen Contreras
University of Illinois Springfield
Major: Psychology
Mentor: Janet Abri

Kristopher Cordova
Northern Illinois University
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Dan Dunne

Julie Lorenzo   
University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Major: Civil Engineering 
Mentor: Maureen Rehusch 

Oscar Mercado
University of Illinois Springfield
Major: Elementary Education
Mentors: Sue Quinlan, Miriam Castro 

Jagoda Szostakiewicz
Eastern Illinois University
Major: Education
Mentor: Sue Quinlan

Daniel Torres-Solache 
University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Mechanical Engineering 
Mentor: Jerry Franklin 
Change a Student's Life for the Better!

 Information Coming in February!

Our Board Members
Kathy Carroll                        Bob Ingraham
Dan Dunne                                   Dan Miller
Karen Ludwigsen                    Nancy Robb
Sue Quinlan             Claudia Sierra-Sokop
Gayle Smith                                  Pat Stack

We Need Your Help
  With the addition of 30 new mentees to our program each year, we are constantly in need of additional mentors. Please consider referring someone you know to become a mentor or consider taking on an additional mentee yourself. Thank you!
Mentoring Matters
Our volunteer mentors are clearly the backbone of our organization. Because of this, we highlight a mentor in each issue of this newsletter.

Meet Bob Ingraham 
  Bob Ingraham is a founding member of EB211 and long-time mentor. Bob 
retired  in 2011 as the school psychologist at Palatine High School, having devoted many years to tirelessly working with students and families and leading efforts to improve educational services in District 211.  Bob has continued to nurture and guide students with his vital contributions to EB211. Bob developed and has led the training for mentors since EB211's beginning. He has brought his years of experience and well-honed skills as a highly trained psychologist to his mentoring role, and his mentees have reaped the benefits. Over the years, he has worked with many mentees, and five have either successfully graduated or are currently persisting in college. 
  His mentees often comment on his incredible listening skills and express their appreciation for how well he hears and understands them. Last spring, faced with the challenges of the COVID shelter-in-place restrictions, Bob creatively met with several mentees outdoors (masked and socially distanced) to continue supporting them and building a sense of cohort among the group. In the words of his most recent mentee, Litzy Morales, a freshman at Illinois Wesleyan University: "Bob has been an amazing mentor as he guided me through my fears of being a freshman in college. I knew I could rely on him when I was lost. He is a brilliant mind and a believer. He believes in me and in my success. For that, I can't explain how much I appreciate him for being my mentor. As my mentor, he has given me insight of the unknown. Thank you for doing the mentor highlight article on Bob. He is an amazing person."
  UIUC graduate Koby Theobald shares the following: "Bob Ingraham was my mentor from 2016 through my college graduation this past spring in 2020. I consider it an honor and privilege to have had him to support me along that journey. He is a truly kind and caring person. When classes were going well, he offered rewarding compliments and motivating words. When life was perhaps not going as well, he knew exactly what to say in order to right the ship, so to speak, and continue forward with resolve. He always took a genuine interest in his mentees' success. And of course, there is hardly much to express other than gratitude for the time, energy, and faith he has provided us over the years."
Advisory Board
Dee Beaubien                    Bill Kesler
Laura J. Brown            Scot Leonard
Dan Dunne                      Kathy Millin
Kristin Freeman       Alonso Ramirez
Asa Gordon                 Susan Rogers
Terry Graber         Christine M. Smith
Derrick Hamilton         Michele Smith
Diane Hill            Robert Wettermann
Eileen Higginbotham               
Excel Beyond 211 Dollars for Scholars | eb211dollarsforscholars@gmail.com

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