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January, 2020
Scholar Stories
EB211 Scholar Cristina Bravo Published in NIU's "Contemporary Voices"
Cristina Bravo (Palatine High School class of 2018) is a current sophomore in the Honors program at Northern Illinois University majoring in Spanish Education and minoring in Latino and Latin American Studies. She recently had an essay published in NIU's "Contemporary Voices" anthology. Cristina shares the story of her path to publication as well as her beautiful original essay below. 

"In the Spring of 2019, I wrote an essay for my ENGL 103 (First-Year English Composition) course. I had to write an essay
a bout a picture that describes who I am. For the assignment I had to include a picture of


myself, and it had to include an object that helped to represent me. I wrote an essay that describes my culture, my ethnicity, my nationality, and my love for dancing. To highlight these things in the picture, my boyfriend (who is also my dance partner) and I are seen wearing traditional Mexican folkloric costumes. In the picture I also included the Mexican and American flags. I further explain the meaning of these in my essay. 

Eventually, I entered a writing contest that is sponsored by NIU's English department and I won 2 nd place in the "Mae Thomas Award for Excellence in First-Year Composition". Because of this, I received a scholarship and my essay was published in a book (that is sold at NIU's bookstores) called "Contemporary Voices". This is a book that showcases the work of NIU students, and it is revised yearly to include new writings. This is a book that is utilized for certain English classes here at NIU. When the book was published this year (2019-2020 academic school year), I was surprised to see that the picture I used for the essay was used as the front cover of the book!"

El Son de la Negra 

On January 27th, 2019, around 3:00 p.m., Juan and I wandered around his house looking for a perfect, plain, well-lit wall to take a picture. We figured his living area would be the ideal place. Warm sunlight came in through a tall, wide window, peacefully diffusing through the room. We taught his grandmother how to take a picture on my phone. She kept looking at us and glancing at the phone, which she held at arm's length. "I'm an expert now, " she bragged. "I could be a professional photographer". 

On April 24th, 2015, Juan and I performed a traditional Mexican folkloric dance for the opening day at Palatine High School's Variety Show. The theme of the show was "Red Carpet," represented by a wide, red line down the center of the black stage. The backdrop featured an enormous wooden camera and a star-shaped speech bubble flashing the word SNAP. 

Meet our Graduates
These are the last of the fifteen 2019 graduates. We profiled five graduates in the two previous newsletters.

Click on their names to learn more about them.


Mission Statement

Excel Beyond 211 Dollars for Scholars┬« (EB211) is dedicated to mentoring and providing financial information and opportunities to select students who are graduating or have graduated from Palatine, William Fremd, James B. Conant, Schaumburg, and Hoffman Estates high schools in Township High School District 211. EB211 invests in college-ready, first-generation students from low-income families, aiming to increase their college success and completion rates.  Excel Beyond 211 Dollars for Scholars┬« helps these students achieve their educational goals by providing a one-to-one adult mentor to assist each EB211 scholar and by identifying and providing scholarship opportunities. Excel Beyond 211 was named as the recipient of the 2015 National New Affiliate of the Year Award from Dollars for Scholars for its exceptional service to the students and community that it serves. 

For m ore information:

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 an additional mentee yourself.
Our Board Members
               Kathy Carroll                
                  Dan Dunne                   
Bob Ingraham
             Karen Ludwigsen            
Dan Miller
                    Sue Quinlan                    
Nancy Robb
      Claudia Sierra-Sokop      
Gayle Smith
Pat Stack
Mentoring Matters
Our volunteer mentors are clearly the backbone of our organization. Because of this, we are highlighting a mentor in each issue of this newsletter.
Meet Tom Sharkey
Tom is retired from business and marketing management, has been involved with EB211 for five years, and is currently working with his second mentee.

Tell us something about yourself and your profession.

"After graduating from college, I joined Procter & Gamble's management training program, then I held upper management positions with Johnson &
Johnson, Alberto Culver, Butler and Rand McNally.  When Rand McNally was sold to an investment group, I became a part owner in Authentic Brands, which secured a Major League Baseball license and partnered with Hank Aaron to be a licensed decorator of corporate apparel for Major League Baseball."
How and when did you become involved as a mentor?

"My wife Sue and I were talking to Marti Lennon, an EB211 mentor, about five years ago and she told us about the EB211 program.  We told her we were interested and she passed that along to EB211 President Nancy Robb.  Nancy contacted us shortly and we each got a mentee that next year.  We have each had two mentees."
What challenges have you encountered as a mentor and how have you overcome them?

"My initial challenges were more about the best way to keep in touch with
my mentee and how to help him meet his goals.  We met several times before  he went off to school, and I just tried to be open and honest with him and let him know that I was here to help in any way I could.  We also decided on how we  were going to communicate on a weekly basis.  We decided we would text  every Wednesday.  We never faced any serious challenges because my mentee adjusted well to school, got excellent grades from the beginning, and we communicated virtually every Wednesday. Sometimes if I forgot to text him, he texted me, but mostly I initiated the communication."
Besides the EB211 meetings and regular communication with your mentee, are there any other ways in which you have reached out to him

"Anytime I received a communication from Jeff Butzen (EB211 mentor training committee), I would read it carefully and forward it to my mentee with my recommendations on what were the key points.  Furthermore, we would get together for breakfast or lunch on each of his breaks from school, and in the summer I would invite him over for dinner at our home, where we could spend extra time getting to know each other."
What have you learned from being an EB211 mentor ?

"I have learned that helping a young man reach his goals is very fulfilling.
It is also very gratifying to be able to help a young man overcome the many
obstacles that a first-year, first-generation college student faces."


Advisory Board

                Dee Beaubien                    
       Laura J. Brown           
                     Dan Dunne                      
      Kristin Freeman      
               Asa Gordon                
        Terry Graber         
       Derrick Hamilton         
           Diane Hill            
Bill Kesler
Scott Leonard
Kathy Millin
Alonso Ramirez
Susan Rogers
Christine M. Smith
Michele Smith
Robert Wetterman

Excel Beyond 211 Dollars for Scholars | eb211dollarsforscholars@gmail.com

1750 S. Roselle Road, Palatine, IL  60067  | (224) 653-6200