Oct. 19, 2006
Vol. 26 No. 3

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    University to celebrate success of its CPS Scholars program

    By William Harms
    News Office

    CPS Scholar Marco Mendez Duarte is right at home with the skulls and bones of animals that fill the lab in the Biological Sciences Learning Center where he is a Teaching Assistant for the Core Biology class. During his first year in the College, Mendez Duarte worked with Paul Sereno, Professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy, with preparing a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil that was embedded in rock.

    In addition to her academic studies, CPS Scholar Mieka van der Ploeg works on costume design for some of the dramatic productions performed on campus, including the Classical Entertainment Society, a Registered Student Organization. She also is working with Lee Behnke, Director of the Undergraduate Latin Program in Classics, on an upcoming benefit to raise funds for tickets to a Shakespeare Theatre production. Van der Ploeg and some of her friends are performing scenes from Shakespeare to raise enough money to purchase tickets for all the students in the Human Being and Citizen classes.

    The University is celebrating the achievements of a partnership with the Chicago Public Schools by establishing a permanent program that gives full tuition scholarships each year to five of the city’s most outstanding public school students.

    To recognize the success of the CPS Scholars program the University will hold a reception at 5 p.m. today at the Gordon Center for Integrative Science, 929 E. 57th St.

    The CPS Scholars program was started in 2003 with a gift from the Crown Foundation, which funded the initiative’s first four years. Because of the accomplishments of the students it has attracted, the University has decided to continue the program using other scholarship resources.

    “We wanted to attract more of the best students from the Chicago Public Schools and we have certainly done that. The Chicago Public Schools Scholars have done the city and our University proud,” said Michael Behnke, Vice President for Enrollment at the University.

    Arne Duncan, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, said, “We are thrilled with the success of the CPS Scholars program. We have consistently worked at improving the high school experiences for our students so that they can be well prepared to succeed at the nation’s top universities. The success of this program at the University of Chicago shows that our efforts are working.”

    These programs have increased the number of CPS graduates applying to the University, with 137 applicants in 2001, and 308 who applied last spring.

    In announcing the CPS Scholars program, University officials said the initiative was made possible by the educational improvements in the Chicago Public Schools, which have increased the pool of students qualified to study in the College.

    Among the first 20 CPS Scholars are first-generation college students and students who have excelled in such areas as art and mathematics. One student has helped uncover a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that was embedded in rock while another is taking part in the University’s urban teaching program.

    The students’ plans after college include attending law school, studying film production and studying public health.

    Two of the students in this year’s entering class also took part in another partnership program with CPS, the Collegiate Scholars program, an enrichment program that brings 150 outstanding CPS students to campus each year and prepares them for admission to the nation’s leading universities.