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Success Stories


City Colleges' programs are aligned to careers in the industries with the most promising economic growth. Our alums can be found working in hospitals, boardrooms, manufacturing firms, IT facilities, law offices, fine-restaurants and international distribution centers, and as law enforcement officers, government officials, or even Chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago.  

Discover where City Colleges of Chicago alums have taken their education.   



Maria's Story
A.A.S. Degree, Nursing
Class of 2012

A native of Madrid, Spain, Maria came to the United States nine years ago to pursue a career in nursing. She began taking prerequisite biology and math classes at both Wright and Truman College, and at the insistence of an advisor, stayed with City Colleges to complete an Associate in Science degree.  After graduation, Maria was accepted into St. Xavier’s nursing program, but quickly learned that the tuition was too high. She returned to Wright College to complete the one-year LPN program and quickly landed a job at an area hospital. While working, she completed Wright’s RN program and graduated with an associate’s degree in nursing. Serving in Thorek Memorial Hospital’s oncology clinic for nearly two years, Maria credits her success to City Colleges’ affordability and focus on preparing students for in-demand careers. Well ahead of counterparts who may have spent valuable time and money at expensive four-year institutions, Maria emphatically states, “I owe no debt!”


Vanessa's Story

A.A.S. Degree, Pharmacy Technology
Class of 2011


Vanessa wanted a career, not a job and with a young daughter, she needed long-term, stable income.  She discovered the Pharmacy Technology program at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. Vanessa worked hard to juggle her studies and her family obligations.  She stayed motivated and leaned on her classmates and study groups to prepare for exams.  In her last semester of the Pharmacy Technology program, Vanessa began her internship in the Walgreen's pharmacy close to her home.  The practical exposure to the pharmacy environment confirmed what Vanessa hoped,  she was going to enjoy her new career.  When the internship concluded, Walgreen's asked her to stay on and become a full-time Pharmacy Technician contingent on passing the certification exam.  Vanessa was overjoyed and proud of the example she is setting for her daughter.  Vanessa graduated in December 2011 with an Associate in Applied Science degree and a career.   

Learn more: Healthcare Programs


Michael's Story

Class A Truck Driver's License 
Completed in 2005

    Michael became a father at a young age. With this responsibility, he went directly to work in low-wage jobs. Going off to college was not an option. At the age of 23 he realized that these jobs weren't making ends meet, he needed a change - Michael headed to Olive-Harvey College and got his GED. That same year, he enlisted as a truck driver in the U.S. Military Engineer Corps. In 2001, after serving 8 years, he returned to work as a delivery driver at Hinckley Springs. There, he obtained his Class B Truck Driver's license and began working part-time for Union Pacific Railroad. Michael heard great things about Olive-Harvey's Truck Driver's program at and returned to obtain his Class A license in 2005. Having the Class A license in his back pocket afforded him a promotion at Union Pacific once a position became available. He now works as a Director of Fueling Operations at the Lasalle Street Metra station.

    Michael obtained his Instructor's License in 2009 and now teaches part-time in Olive-Harvey's Truck Driver's program. He credits getting his GED from Olive-Harvey as the springboard for the subsequent events that improved his life. Describing Olive-Harvey's TDL programs, Michael believes that "these programs are often the second, third, and fourth chances for many students. In some cases, they go from unemployed and nearly homeless to careers making 50 or 60 thousand a year right away. I am an example of that." He adds, "it is fulfilling to work with students. I want to invest in them just as Olive-Harvey invested in me."  

    Learn more: Transportation, Distribution, & Logistics programs


    Rey Villalobos
    Advanced Certificate Graduate, Washburne Culinary Institute 
    Class of 2003

    Rey, a graduate of Kennedy-King College's Washburne Culinary Institute, currently serves as Chef de Cuisine at Table 52 Restaurant. He oversees ordering and purchasing of inventory, menu creation, management of kitchen staff, and plating design. Rey essentially runs one of Chicago's leading restaurants owned by celebrity Chef Art Smith - formerly Oprah's personal chef.

    Learn more: Hospitality & Culinary Programs

    Baker Gregory
    A.A.S. Degree, Manufacturing Technology and Maintenance Mechanics
    Class of 2012

    In 2007 Baker Gregory completed his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics, but he struggled finding a job he enjoyed. He was looking for a new career when he drove by Daley College’s Arturo Velasquez Institute and noticed a sign advertising precision metalworking classes. He decided to pursue an associate’s degree in manufacturing technology in 2009 and finished the program in two years. The month before graduation, he went to a career fair where he received three interviews and two job offers. He chose to work as an industrial maintenance technician at SWD, Inc. and is enjoying his new career. Gregory says the hands-on education he received at Daley College made him a marketable candidate and will help him a future career moves. Gregory has aspirations of some day running a plant or working in industrial sales. 

    Learn more: High-Tech Manufacturing


    Michele Miller
    Associate in Arts Degree
    Class of 2012

    Michele initially came to City Colleges to study Business Administration and eventually transfer to a four-year institution. After taking a few courses, Michele discovered that her true passion was working with people and switched gears to complete an Associate in Arts degree. During her first few years at City Colleges, she juggled working and attending class part-time. Michele lost her job due to the recent economic downturn and decided to focus on completing her degree full-time. She completed her Associate in Arts Degree and graduated as a member of the class of 2012. Michele recently accepted a position as an Associate Client Programs Analyst at Allscripts, a company that provides healthcare information technology solutions for hospitals and physicians. She plans to attend DePaul University's School for New Learning with a focus on healthcare.

    Learn more: Information Technology Programs


    Brandon Lee, Marcus Lee, & Dennis Green
    Graduates from Dawson Technical Institute
    Class of 2012

    Brandon Lee, Marcus Lee, and Dennis Green recently graduated from the Dawson Technical Institute/IDOT Highway Construction Career Training Program (HCCTP) and were immediately hired by Benjamin Avery, owner of Avery & Pryor Construction LLC, a Union Cement Masonry Sub Contractor. They were all hired as Cement Masons and the three expect to start their new positions this summer.  The company is also sponsoring them as pre-apprentices into the Cement Masonry Union for IDOT projects, which means they will be making close to $30 dollars per hour as first year apprentices.   

    Brandon and Marcus Lee  say their father gave them structure; a solid principal-based foundation and taught them the importance of having a strong work ethic.  DTI instructors “were like real-life bosses” that well prepared them for the industry. Dennis Green took several DTI courses before being accepted into the HCCTP and says the DTI experience gave him all of the basics in areas like math construction and hands-on training with industry demanded skills like blue print reading. He thanks his “tough but fair” DTI instructors who gave him the skills and industry knowledge required to succeed and taught him, “If you really want something, you must have the tenacity to sell yourself….you must work for your success.”   

    Learn more: Construction Technology Programs


    Carlos Guzman

    A.A. Degree, Business
    Class of 2010

    When Carlos Guzman moved to the United States, he found it difficult to find a job with a strong company without an education. He decided to attend Harold Washington College because of the low-price tag and appreciated the friendly advisors who helped him develop a strong program to meet his academic and career goals. Before graduation, he was offered a licensed banker position and after graduation he was quickly promoted to licensed financial center manager. Carlos credits his quick promotion to the strong education and associate degree he received at Harold Washington College.   

    Attending Harold Washington College has inspired Carlos to pursue a four-year degree. Currently he’s pursuing a bachelor of science degree in technical management at DeVry University and is also pursuing a second associate degree in computer information systems at Harold Washington College.

    Learn more: Business & Professional Services Programs 




    Karen's Story

    A.S. Degree, Psychology
    Class of 1998

    Karen went to work immediately after graduation.  As time passed, she grew tired of working hard at a job that did not inspire her, nor present any career options.  She registered at Wright College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, and found she loved to learn and was good at it.  She earned her Associate in Science degree in 1998 from Wright, transferred to Northwestern University to earn a Bachelor degree in Psychology.  Karen joined the Chicago police force and continued her studies at DePaul University to earn a Master degree in public relations and advertising. Today, Karen has been a police officer since 2002 and in 2009 founded the Women's Tactical Association (WTA) which provides life-saving skills through specialized training for female law enforcement. She currently serves as the president of the WTA.

    Learn more: Public Safety Programs


    Paulina Szadkowska-Kociszewski
    A.A.S. Degree, Chemical Laboratory Technology
    Class of 2012

    Paulina Szadkowska-Kociszewski came to Truman College to improve her English, but an incentive program for ESL students inspired her to pursue an associate degree. She always had an interest in science and decided to focus on chemistry. This field of study created extra work for Paulina as she was still learning English when she needed to learn the language of chemistry and math.

    In the fall of her final year at Truman College, Paulina attended the 2011 International Institute for Nanotechnology Symposium at Northwestern University. She listened to numerous speakers all day on a Saturday, just enthralled with the field of nanotechnology. When she heard that two City Colleges students would have the opportunity to participate in a nanotechnology internship, she jumped at the opportunity. She was selected for the paid internship program put on by NanoProfessor, a division of NanoInk, Inc. focused on nanotechnology education. Paulina also started a website to share her experiences and chemical engineering news.

    Melissa Brand  

    A.A. Degree, Social Science
    Class of 2012

    Melissa Brand started supporting herself in high school, but couldn’t juggle full-time work and school so she dropped out and passed the GED. After 20 years of administrative work and multiple lay-offs due to the recession and mergers, Melissa decided it was time to try school again. At 38-years-old she enrolled in Truman College with the intention of pursuing a degree that would lead to a stable job. She found that she enjoyed and excelled at writing and that if she tried, she would not only pass her classes, but receive As. She became part of the TRiO program, Phi Theta Kappa and wrote for the school newspaper.

    She graduated from Truman College with high honors in May 2012 with an Associate of Arts in Social Science and will continue her education at Northeastern Illinois University in the fall. Melissa won the only Phi Theta Kappa scholarship offered at NEIU which will cover her tuition for two years and was accepted into the university's honors program. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Communications, Media & Theater so she can continue to write after graduation, either as a journalist or in corporate communications.

    Learn more: Transfer Resources

    See More Success Stories: 

    Harold Washington College  


    Harry S Truman College  


    Kennedy-King College  


    Malcolm X College  


    Olive-Harvey College  


    Richard J. Daley College  


    Wilbur Wright College