Francisco Ponce, SEHS Class of 2013

Francisco Ponce, SEHS Class of 2013

Francisco Ponce Jr.’s parents didn’t go to college. His family approached his application experience as a team effort, going to seminars about getting ready for college and the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid, or FAFSA. But they were navigating the unknown.

When Francisco received the U-46 Superintendent’s Scholarship as a senior at South Elgin High School in 2013, he thought, “Oh, I can actually do this.”

Now, Francisco holds an associate degree in business administration from Robert Morris University and he is working toward a bachelor’s from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is majoring in advertising and minoring in French with plans to graduate in 2017 and get a job at a full-service advertising agency.

By then, his little brother will be gearing up for his own college experience, using the lessons Francisco learned to ease his own way. In fact, being able to set an example for his brother is one of the reasons Francisco is most grateful for the Superintendent’s Scholarship.

“Him seeing me go to school and get scholarships means that it is achievable,” Francisco said. “It’s more affordable than people think it is.”

As a first-generation college student Francisco cites a steep learning curve. Since transferring he has had to acclimate to a new environment at U of I, where so many people have generations of experience to help them navigate campus life and the college process.

More than halfway through his first year, Francisco says he’s “well-acquainted” with the system, as well as life away from home. Now he has his eye on an internship and his future career.