Krystal is a newly minted EPIC alumna and a freshman at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her plan: to major in biochemistry on the way to becoming a pediatrician. Using strategies learned from her EPIC College and Career Skills teacher, she found a combination of scholarships and financial aid so that she is attending UIC with no out-of-pocket costs. She's taken other knowledge with her as well, from using technology to manage her time and plan her studies, to emailing her instructors in a professional manner, to organizing study groups. The transition to college has been smooth because her freshman year is much like her senior year was at EPIC: syllabus-based and classes of the same length. And as a college freshman, having to write for every class does not intimidate her: four years of writing at EPIC made Krystal a good writer. "EPIC helped me gain confidence and find my voice."
Amonte's road to becoming a good student was long. And bumpy. Even with the support of a math intervention class during his first two years, he needed to repeat the 10th grade. But then, thanks to the relentless focus of an EPIC teacher, he began to take school seriously. "I was a bad kid–in trouble, kicked out of class. I wanted to drop out but my crew teacher, Ms. Padberg, wouldn't let me," Amonte remembers. "She pushed me to the limit she knew I was capable of." Now he's earning Bs, taking honors algebra and on his way to graduation and maybe even his dream school – Florida State University. "EPIC makes you want to go to college and makes you work harder to get there," says Amonte. "Even if others doubt me, the staff at EPIC believes in me."
Natalie is a true stand-out student. Her straight As earned her a 4.37 GPA on a 4.0 scale and she completed her first practice ACT with a 26. But that's not good enough for Natalie – her goal is a 30. That would give her the highest ACT score in EPIC's history and a competitive application to top-tiered schools. She's also proof of the value that Intensives—week-long courses introducing careers that otherwise might not be considered – deliver to our students. An Intensives course in securities trading opened her eyes. "I didn't know you could get paid well for paying attention to stock prices and predicting how they might change," she said. And she sees even more value: "I found out what I'm good at, how to talk to professionals and how to act in the workplace. This is important for college interviews, class presentations and finding a job after college. My friends at other schools don't know all the things I do."