If you plan on giving to HFS, click below:
Tickets on sale now for the 4th annual Poker & Casino Night!
Grand Prize: Seat at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas
(Valued at $10,000)
Friday, May 29
Holiday Inn, Chicago Mart Plaza
Doors Open at 6:30PM
Cards Dealt at 7:30PM
Buy now before this popular event sells out!
We have the cheapest entry fee and smallest tournament size for any charity event in Chicagoland that offers the WSOP prize.
Other incredible prizes include Steppenwolf Theatre tickets, private 93XRT concert, and autographed memorabilia from your favorite Chicago teams!
Alumna Scholar Spotlight:
Isabel Rose Kadiri
High School/ Graduation Yr.:
Regina Dominican High School, 2013
College & Major: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Community Health
What were your favorite subjects during high school and college?
I loved English and Biology. I enjoyed reading and writing in addition to learning about the body and how it works. I took AP Biology and AP Language and Composition in high school, which has been very beneficial in college
What Extra-curricular are you involved in on your campus and what accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I currently serve as the Illini Union Board Director of Traditional Programs. The Illini Union Board advises the Illini Union. As Director of Traditional Programs, I get to plan events like Mom’s Weekend, Dad’s Weekend and African American Homecoming. I am proud to be able to be a part of the celebration of traditions of the Illini Union and the University of Illinois.
Additionally, I am a mentor for 100 STRONG. Next academic year I will serve as the Recruitment and Outreach Co-Chair. 100 STRONG is a retention and mentorship program for African-American freshmen and transfer students through the Bruce D. Nesbitt African-American Cultural Center (BNAACC). As a mentor, 1 have six female freshman mentees. It has been a rewarding experience to be able to guide and support them as well as witness their progress throughout their first year on campus. I am excited to meet the University of Illinois Class of 2019 and help them in any way I can.
What hobbies do you enjoy outside of school?
When I am not studying or in a meeting, I enjoy working out, spending time with family/friends, listening to music and watching movies. I also love food and eating at new restaurants.
What is your favorite HFS memory?
My favorite HFS memory was when we had an HFS Day of Service and volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. It was a great bonding experience for everyone who was there and Feed My Starving Children is now one of my favorite non-profit organizations.
How did your mentor/scholar help you?
My mentor served as great a motivator throughout high school. She kept up with my progress and always wanted to know how I was doing. As a high school student, that was something I greatly appreciated. So, now as a mentor, that is one of the things I always strive to do.
What is one fun fact about you?
I skipped first grade so unlike most college students, I entered college when I was 17 and God willingly I will graduate with a Master’s Degree in Public Health when I am 22.
How has HFS impacted your life?
HFS is a second family. From endless opportunities to being surrounded by people who care about you academic success, HFS has helped instill a great deal of confidence in me and my abilities, which has translated to my collegiate success thus far.
Is there anyone that you would like to thank at HFS Chicago Scholars?
I would like to thank Mrs. Desirée Pepper-Venzant. Mrs. Desirée, or mom as I call her, has been an influential force in my life. From affording me various opportunities, to supporting me in high school and beyond, Mrs. Desirée has displayed so much love and care not only to me, but all the students in HFS. It is not so easy to find people who genuinely care about your progress and your success. Mrs. Desirée is one of those few people and I am truly blessed to know her and have her in my life.
High School/ Graduation Yr.:
Providence St. Mel 2015
Grade Point Average 4.429/4.0 Scale
Recepiant: Spirit of HFS Award
Where are you going to college and what do you plan to major in?
I'm planning to major in sociology and gain a certificate in theater. So far, I have been awarded $59,780 in Grants & Scholarships, which is great because annual expenses are estimated to be $61,800.
I am super excited! I visited on a Tuesday in April and really loved it.
What Extra-curricular are you involved in at school?
Voice and Theatre:
I had the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York, it was an amazing experience. A friend and I also were interviewed as part of a documentary made about the composer.
What hobbies do you enjoy outside of school?
Outside of school, I am an assistant cheerleading coach for the Garfield Park Knights and I am gathering and preparing a team for a dance competition on May 29th. I am preparing individually for the Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition on May 30th and auditioning for a production of Urinetown this summer.
What type of community service have you done this year?
My community service has been my involvement with the park district as far as the cheerleading and dance teams as concerned as well as the Teen Leadership program. I also sporadically help with my church's food pantry.
Your HFS Mentor?
Meeting my mentor... I had no idea what to expect freshmen year and I was dreading the impending awkwardness of meeting someone for the first time. However, my mentor Julie Harber was feeling just as nervous as I was. It didn’t take long to realize that the mentors are just like older versions of us and soon we became much more comfortable around one another. Having a mentor is vital to me because it allows me to vent without fear of being scolded or lectured. I feel like my mentor genuinely cares about my success and is with me every step of the way, whether I feel like I’m sinking, swimming, or floating.
What is one fun fact about you?
I’ve attended Providence St. Mel since kindergarten and throughout my thirteen years, the school has helped me explore a range of opportunities.
How has HFS impacted your life?
I remember learning about the importance of College financial aid and the FAFSA before I was even an upperclassman. The college visits are wonderful opportunities and I’m glad that all grades are invited/ mandated to attend them. As a freshman you think that senior year is forever away but it isn’t. I am so grateful that HFS helped me continually keep college on the brain because now that I’m a senior, I know my options and I was able to handle this process for myself.
I am extremely fortunate to have had a high school experience that kept and continues to keep me thinking about the future. Getting caught up in the present has never been one of my goals because both Providence St. Mel and HFS kept me focused and fed my drive. Because of them I know that when I go to college, I’ll have enough independent experience to be self- disciplined while also knowing that I have a strong support system urging me forward. Success has never been so tangible for me than it is now.
I'm off to Princeton University!
Rock n' Bowl Raises $30,000 for HFS!
The fourteenth annual Diversey Rock N’ Bowl was a huge success, raising over $30,000 for HFS Chicago Scholars! Three-time consecutive champions West Monroe
Partners were finally dethroned with Ernie Fiorante and his team “En Fiorante” bringing home the historic 5 foot trophy. It was a very fun and memorable evening!
HFS is Hiring!
Position: Director of Development
Director of Academics
Senior Director of Academics
Development Director Posting Can be Viewed HERE.
Academic Director Posting Can be Viewed HERE.
HFS Scholars are Going to College!
Simran Ali..................................................................Denison University, Granville, OH
Jessica Bailey.........................................................Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Abigail Bautista..................................Arrupe College of Loyola University, Chicago, IL
Christian Davis.................................................. Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Gabriel Gonzalez.................................... Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL
Brianna Guzman......................................................St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO
Elissa Lopez...........................................University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
Lauren Merriwether................................................ Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
Delia Montoya........................................................ Augustana College, Rock Island, IL
Isaac Moore...............................................................Dominican University, Chicago, IL
Benjamin Vela............................................. Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, WI
Marcus Williams..........................................................Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
Rafael Velazquez................................................................Wright College, Chicago, IL
Our Scholars are successful and changing the lives of others through service!
Service Trip to Feed My Starving Children: Over 90 students, mentors and parents participated. We packed 95 boxes of food that provided $20,304 meals for 55 hungry kids in a year. "This was a great day and I cannot wait until to do this again" ~HFS Scholar
"Walking College Tour" with our friends at Huron Consulting Group
During our spring “Walking College Tours”, we partnered with our friends at Huron Consulting Group. Students were able to gain knowledge about University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Roosevelt University. Special thanks to Brenna Casey, Charlie Pope (HFS YPB Members) and their team of volunteers from Huron Consulting Group.
Shop on Amazon.com? Designate HFS Chicago Scholars as your Charity using the Amazon Smile Program
Go to www.smile.amazon.com then type "HFS Chicago Scholars." Then .05% of your purchase will go to HFS! Be sure to bookmark the Smile Amazon page so you go there first anytime you are shopping on Amazon. HFS thanks you!
Board Member Spotlight:
We are blessed to have so many committed staff members, mentors, volunteers and board members who routinely lend their time and talents to us. We would like to recognize board member Ernie Fiorante, who is the CFO of the Americas Region at Jones Lang LaSalle and serves on the HFS Board of Directors.
Ernie graduated from DePaul University and continued at Northwestern University-Kellogg for his MBA. He has more than 20 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, with a prior career in public accounting.
We sat down with Ernie to discuss a few topics:
Why did you want to become involved with HFS?
Going through a challenging period in my own life caused me to focus on how fortunate I really was to have so many wonderful blessings. I decided it was time for me to give back to others who perhaps were not as fortunate. I was first introduced to HFS by Rick Julien, an existing HFS board member. As the first generation son from parents that emigrated from Italy, the first in my family to go to college and a product of Gordon Tech High School, it was very easy for me to connect with HFS’ mission. My entire life I’ve always felt that with hard work I could achieve my goals. I really wanted to help other kids feel like they had that same opportunity.
How do the HFS scholars provide inspiration in your life?
The kids in this program are so amazing. I’m confident many will go on to be great leaders and all will have benefited from the high schools they are attending along with the connections they will have made as part of HFS. Many not only face financial challenges, but also are growing up in tough neighborhoods. Despite these challenges, and with the strong support of their families, they strive to achieve more, not less. I am so amazed by their passion, energy and commitment to service. I truly get back so much more than I give to HFS when I see the positive impact the program is having on these great kids.
What is a favorite HFS memory?
My favorite memory actually comes from the most recent HFS Breakfast event. There was a video of a former HFS Scholar that went on to become a nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. In an emotional moment at the end of the video, she not only expressed the tremendous impact HFS had in her professional success, but specifically all that Desirée and Mike did to personally impact her life. It was incredibly inspirational and a great reminder that individually we all have the ability to do great things to help others whether it’s through HFS or through other relationships in our life.
Fun fact & personal hobbies and interests?
I mostly enjoy spending time with my sons whether it’s watching them play on sports teams or getting crushed playing them in MWIII. When I’m not working or spending time with them, I’m probably doing something active. I love going to the gym or spending time outdoors cycling or running. If you really want to feel alive, take a boot camp class, it’s a killer but feels great afterwards! I’m a lifelong Chicagoan and think it’s a great place to live….except when its 30 below zero.
7 Questions with Young Professional Board Member:
1) Education: I started college at the University of Notre Dame in 2003 and graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance. I went back to school in 2012 to DePaul University and completed my MBA in 2014.
2) Fun Fact: I love reading and learning about sharks, have been an avid Shark Week watcher since grade school, and traveling to South Africa to do a cage dive with a Great White Shark is at the top of my bucket list.
3) Work: This April I began my new job as the Controller for Catholic Extension, a not-for-profit providing financial support to Catholic Church dioceses. Before that I worked for William Blair and Company, an investment management firm here in Chicago, as a fund accountant for eight years.
4.) Why you became involved with HFS: Upon coming to Chicago my brother, David Bochenek, was very involved with HFS as a mentor and brought me to my first event and thanks to him I have been involved ever since.
5.) What has been your role with HFS? I have been involved with HFS for eight years starting as a mentor for an outstanding young man, Kwambata Ngata, who went on to attend the University of Chicago. Over the past four I have participated on the HFS Young Professional Board first as the Alumni Relations Chair and currently I serve as its Treasurer.
6.) How has your experience with HFS impacted you? HFS’ emphasis on mentorship, collaboration, and push to achieve has been an incredible influence on my personal and professional life.
7.) A favorite HFS memory? I will still never forget the first quarterly event I did with Kwambata to the pumpkin farm north of Chicago. The pumpkin farm had its own little zoo complete with giraffes, and Kwambata and I kept competing in a pumpkin launching game to try and win forty pounds of pumpkins. What we would do with forty pounds of
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