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Making a college visit count

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood.

The student editor of Michigan State University's State News shows off recent editions of the publication during a visit this fall to the academic institution's campus. Photo by Tyreshia Black.


Every year, high school students across Chicago start preparing to attend a college or university. The effort is a big undertaking, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many different types of higher education institutions to choose from, and a lot of students don’t know what they’re looking for.

One important way that many students figure out what they want from a college is through a campus visit. During a visit, prospective students tour the campus, talk to professors, and learn about student life.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” said Tametrius Files, a 16-year-old Simeon High School student who has visited Eastern Illinois University, DePaul University and other schools.

Experts say it is important to make the most out of college visits.

Betty Weinberger, a college consultant at a Glencoe-based company called North Shore College Counseling Services, said in an e-mail interview that students must make realistic and appropriate plans in order to ensure their campus visits are worthwhile.

“You might begin by asking yourself the following questions,” she said. “Do you like a large school or small? Do you want to be in the city in an urban environment or do you prefer a suburban or even small town environment?”

Ms. Weinberger added that students should also think about college activities while on a campus tour as well as their fields of interest.
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A Dream Come True

by Alisha Jacobs 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program class at People for Community Recovery, a not-for-profit organization based in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development. In April 2011, youths from People for Community Recovery traveled to France as part of a photography exchange program with youths from La Courneuve, a community near Paris.

Paris. France. It was something like a dream come true. On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, it was also boring because we arrived too early and had to wait in the small, hot and muggy office of People for Community Recovery filled with over 15 bags and 10 people. After greeting everyone and hugging our family members, our limos arrived. I was filled with mixed emotions. Getting in the limo to the airport I was happy but yet a little sad. I was leaving family and friends. I was thinking of everything that could go wrong as I sat quietly the whole ride. I and the other children and our chaperone and Takia Long took pictures of the whole ride.

Students from Altgeld Gardens pose with their French counterparts.

I had a chill going through my spine getting out of the car at O’Hare Airport. It was a long, tedious process checking in and going through the security measures, but I was patient. I bought a lot of candy since the security said we couldn’t go through with any food or water because of all the terrorist attempts, but all this really made me feel very safe. We arrived very early so if anything went wrong we would have time to spare. Me, Manquaze (my brother), Lakeshia (a 17-year-old participant in the An Eye for An Eye program) and Hollis (brother of Lakeshia, another participant of An Eye for An Eye) played Uno anxiously waiting to board the plane.

Finally about 45 minutes later, we grabbed all of our bags. I couldn’t help but have butterflies in my stomach. We boarded a big white and blue plane with that read “Air France” on the side. The flight attendants greeted us in French, which kind of made me happy, because I knew that I could respond. I put all my bags up in storage. Then, about 15 minutes later, we finally started to move. The best part of the air plane ride was taking off because it was like a roller coaster; I love roller coasters. It was hard trying to force myself to go to sleep knowing I was thousands of feet in the air. The flight was 6 hours. We had made it to the airport around 5 that evening and made it to Paris around 1:30 a.m. I had stayed up during the flight because I was watching movies and talking to the other children in the program. Plus I was too scared I would miss something. Most of the children didn’t go to sleep just as I didn’t. We woke the adult chaperones so we could get off the plane.

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The Garden

by Tyreshia Black Youth Reporter

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood:

Most people don’t know you can grow gourmet vegetables right here in Chicago, where we have some of the world’s most fertile soil. But because of contamination with lead and other toxins in the soil, we should use raised beds for our urban gardening. That’s what I and other student members of Imagine Englewood If learned in our visit with polyculturalist Seneca Kern.

We visited Kern at Kilbourn Organic Garden in Logan Square, and the meeting had extra importance since Kern and the group Growing Home are in the process of starting an organic garden in Englewood.

I learned and experienced so many things I didn’t know about before, including things that will come in handy gardening. I learned that Illinois has very fertile soil, even though we usually don’t realize it because we are so busy throwing trash in parks and in landfills. Usually we just buy our food and throw it in the trash when we’re done, without even thinking about planting a garden and composting our food waste.

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The Transformation of Jason Moy

by Vanessa Gonzalez Youth Reporter

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program:

Jason Moya had the same expectations that all teens have for themselves: to look better, feel better and be popular.

“In freshman year, I was going through a teen life crisis,” said high school student Jason Moya, 16.

The physical transformation between his freshman year and today is astonishing, the result of an emotional battle that nearly consumed him. Being the youngest child of four brothers and sisters has always pushed Jason to stand out and be noticed. While glancing at his old ID picture from middle school, it’s astonishing to even compare the physical differences. He used to be overweight, with glasses, blemishes and a bad haircut, faking a smile that showcases everything but happiness.

“Back in freshman year, Jason used to have a fade,” said Slendy Bahena, a freshman classmate of Moya. “He used to act ghetto, until he started dating an emo girl and decided to change. After he broke up with her, he stuck with his new punk rocker look. His personality didn’t change though. I guess his transformation was an accident.”

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