NU forges relationships with Chicago public high schools through education programs, recruitment


Daily file illustration by Meher Yeda

An illustration features the outlines of two figures’ faces looking away from one another. A school building and a dividing line appear between them.

Astry Rodriguez, Senior Staffer

Many future Wildcats currently attend Chicago public high schools. For more than a decade, Northwestern programs have recruited from Chicago Public Schools, working with school administrators and academically serving students.

The Morton Schapiro Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools is a college access program for students from underrepresented communities and marginalized backgrounds. Operating over the summer and during the academic year, the program helps CPS students matriculate to highly selective colleges and universities across the country.

Program Director Cassandra Salgado said around 40 schools participate each year. 

“Since we’re recruiting students in ninth grade, they come to us with ideas of what they want their future to be,” Salgado said. “It’s keeping tabs on their academic profile, helping them curate what their extracurriculars will look like so that they can establish what college, university or track is going to be the best fit for them.”

Salgado said the program provides workshops for students on choosing enriching extracurriculars related to their future college track and college logistics. 

The program staff actively works with personnel in CPS schools, like counselors, International Baccalaureate coordinators and upper administration, such as the CEO of CPS, Salgado added. 

“If (counselors) want all their ninth graders to learn a specific something or they need help with a college essay workshop, we’ll do that,” Salgado said.

The program recruits from selective enrollment and neighborhood schools, including Ogden High School, Taft High School and Chicago Math and Science Academy, Salgado said. 

Salgado said the program was created as part of Good Neighbor, Great University, which is a scholarship for NU students from Chicago and Evanston high schools who demonstrate financial need.

Program alumni and Weinberg sophomore Anael Perez, who graduated from Benito Juarez High School in 2021, said the academy helped her see her potential as a college student. It allowed her to limit her timidness in classroom settings, she added.

“I thank my (program) advisor a lot for that because he worked one-on-one with me a lot, especially with the process of the personal statements and the essay questions,” Perez said.

NU is also the university partner of Lake View High School, where it provides academic programming through NU’s Science in Society STEM education center. The University’s Office of Community Education Partnerships also operates Centers of Excellence in two CPS high schools, teaching coding to instructors so they can introduce it in classes.

Northwestern Medicine Scholars also is a partnered program between George Westinghouse College Prep, Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The program allows students with interests in medicine or scientific research to learn about careers in medicine. For four weeks each summer, Northwestern Medicine hosts a cohort of students from George Westinghouse who are able to observe live surgeries and receive hands-on training in medicine. 

“The opportunity to be mentored and learn from some of the most renowned physicians in medicine has been a rewarding experience for our students,” said Terrell Burgess, principal of George Westinghouse. 

Burgess said physicians from the program visit the school during the academic year to lead “community grand rounds,” where they present research to students and share what they learned. 

He said the program is a great recruitment tool and helps George Westinghouse attract “some of the best and brightest.”

“We’re proud of the partnership, we see that it is working (and) we see that our students have been empowered in ways that are just significant,” Burgess said. 


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