Meet Our Scholars

Pass With Flying Colors serves public school students from across Chicago beginning in their freshman year of high school at CICS Northtown Academy.

Pass With Flying Colors scholars live in 13 different Chicago communities including Albany Park, Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Belmont Cragin, Greater Grand Crossing and Austin. Our scholars reflect the diversity of these communities:65% identify as Hispanic/Latino, 11% as Asian, 9% as African American, and 15% as another race. Among our scholars, 85% are low-income and will require significant financial aid support to achieve their college degree.

All Pass With Flying Colors’ scholars will be in the first generation in their families to graduate college.

Read stories for scholars in each of our cohorts:

2015 Cohort

“Without PWFC I would not have been able to reach the college I wanted to attend. I may not have completed college.” - Emily Soriano | Elmhurst College | Political Science

Emily joined PWFC’s first cohort in 2011 and is now a junior at Elmhurst College. Since becoming a scholar, Emily learned the importance of education and self-advocacy. One of Emily’s greatest accomplishments this school year was being re-elected as president of her sorority, Sigma Gamma Lambda. Her passion for government and history led her to major in political science. Emily is now preparing to take the LSAT and apply to law school after completing a summer internship at Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. She hopes to become a lawyer and use the law to help people.

2016 Cohort

“If I never joined Pass With Flying Colors, I would have put soccer first and school second. This program helped me focus on school and see the reality of my future. What I like most about Pass With Flying Colors is that whenever I ask for help someone is always there for me.” - Willy Duarte | Malcolm X College | Dental Hygienist and Radiologic Technologist

Growing up, Willy enjoyed playing soccer with his family. He joined the soccer team at Northtown Academy where he played all four years. Willy’s passion for soccer led him to receive a soccer scholarship at Malcolm X College. Willy shares that Pass With Flying Colors taught him to make plans and be organized. For Willy, success comes with being focused, working hard, and prioritizing. He hopes to graduate Malcolm X College in Summer of 2018 and continue his studies as a dental hygienist.

2017 Cohort

“I have a bond with my cohort and my advisors. Being a PWFC scholar, you have your own second family that wants to see you succeed.” - Carlos Hernandez | Arrupe College of Loyola University | Business

Carlos joined Pass With Flying Colors in 2013, driven to become a stronger student. College Ready built skills that helped him easily manage school work and college applications. Pass With Flying Colors’ leadership and academic workshops helped Carlos gain professional skills and manage his time more efficiently. Carlos is now a freshman business student and works hard to maintain his good grades in his classes. He looks forward to completing his studies at a four year college.

2018 Cohort

“After joining PWFC, I found myself looking at colleges out of state that provided better programs for what I want to major in. I see more options for my future.” - George Khankeldian | Northtown Academy Class of 2018

Since joining Pass With Flying Colors in January 2015, George strived to get better grades in school and enroll in college. As a scholar, the college interview preps and Camp Manitowish excursions helped him build long lasting relationships with his fellow PWFC scholars and advisors. He values volunteerism and was highlighted in summer 2017 for being a dedicated volunteer at Habitat for Humanity ReStore Chicago. Hopeful of the future, George looks forward to graduating Northtown Academy in June 2018 and studying computer science in college.


“Being a first-generation student, I needed to make a different choice than my older siblings. I want to go to college and Pass With Flying Colors provides the resources and help to get me there.” - Chelsea Guiracocha | Northtown Academy Class of 2018

Pass With Flying Colors opened up new opportunities for high school senior scholar, Chelsea. Program activities such as one-on-one meetings and weekly cohort sessions allowed Chelsea to learn about the realities of college and the challenges she would face. Being a PWFC scholar taught Chelsea to be a leader and take action. In the 2017-2018 academic school year, Chelsea founded a sign language club at Northtown Academy.  The resources and support that PWFC provides continues to make a positive impact in Chelsea’s life.


2019 Cohort

“As a Pass With Flying Colors scholar, I see more options for my future. If I was not a scholar, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that shaped the person I am now.” - Angel Cordero | Northtown Academy Class of 2019

When Angel started Northtown Academy in fall 2015, he knew he wanted to get involved in school and his community. He joined varsity soccer freshman year and will continue to play his senior year. Every Saturday, Angel volunteers at the Museum of Science and Industry engaging children and adults in STEM projects. As a scholar, Angel valued the college trips provided by Pass With Flying Colors his sophomore and junior year. This helped him envision his future and realize the importance of attending the right college. As a rising senior, Angel looks forward to finding a best fit college where he hopes to study engineering and business.


“I was afraid of not making it to junior year and now I am a junior completing honors classes. Pass With Flying Colors teaches us to become a leader, to be more active and participate.” - Bethany Chin | Northtown Academy Class of 2019

Bethany applied to Pass With Flying Colors with the encouragement of her older brother and scholar, Nathan, who joined the program in 2013. In addition to the support she received from her family, Bethany found that the individualized support in weekly session meetings and one-on-one meetings from her PWFC advisors allowed her to overcome academic challenges she faced. Taking full advantage of the PWFC summer immersion program, Bethany was able to attend Indiana State University for a summer nursing program. Being a PWFC scholar allowed Bethany to try new things and not be afraid to challenge herself. After graduation, she looks forward to pursuing a nursing degree.

2020 Cohort

“My goal is to try my best at everything I do. I want to make my family proud and be able to support them.” - Frida Guzman | Northtown Academy Class of 2020

As a music enthusiast, Pass With Flying Colors scholar Frida sought to learn the piano at age five then the violin at the age of 10. She continues to play both instruments and is now learning to play the guitar and saxophone. At Northtown Academy, Frida is involved in American Sign Language club, guitar club, and plays on the basketball team. Working hard, doing your best, and keeping your eye on the future are valuable lessons instilled in Frida and magnified as a Pass With Flying Colors scholar. After high school, Frida looks forward to attending college to study pharmacy.


“My sister, Ashley (2019 Cohort), encouraged me to apply to Pass With Flying Colors. I’m glad she did. It helped me meet more like-minded people. My advice to younger scholars is to always try your best and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Use your cohort and PWFC as a resource. They will help you succeed.” - Brian Rebollo | Northtown Academy Class of 2020

Rising junior scholar, Brian, joined Pass With Flying Colors in 2017.  Determined to get more involved in Northtown Academy, Brian joined math team and two mentorship programs, Puma Buddies and Accenture. Being in College Ready gives Brian access to the support he needs to focus on his academic goals. Attending a four year college is a dream that Brian can make a reality because of the resources and guidance Pass With Flying Colors provides.