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Even though COVID-19 canceled residential college programming this summer, nearly 200 Noble students participated in virtual pre-college programs through Noble’s Summer of a Lifetime program. Since 1999, Noble has provided the Summer of a Lifetime opportunity to more than 7,630 Noble sophomores. Each year, students participate in summer academic enrichment programs at colleges and universities across the nation.

In previous years, students would leave their Chicago home to live on campus, some for days, others for weeks, and many for the first time living away from home. “This opportunity has such a meaningful impact on the students, their self-confidence and desire to attend and graduate from college — and as the data shows, to be successful there,” says Jill Kohlberg, Executive Director of the Summer of a Lifetime program, “we were committed to providing students with as much of that experience as possible, so we adapted to a virtual format.”

As the country began to largely shelter-in-place this spring, Noble students were given the opportunity to participate from their own homes in enrichment programs hosted by one of 20 colleges and universities nationwide. We asked a few students about their experience.

“I want to thank the donors who helped make it possible for me to do Summer of a Lifetime. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to have a spectacular and engaging experience at the Stanford program. I know that many people don’t even have the opportunity to do this, so a million times thank you!

Lillian Trujillo
class of 2022
ITW Speer Academy

Lilian Trujillo, class of 2022, ITW David Speer Academy
College/University Program Attended: Stanford University
Subject(s) of Study: Social Psychology

Best Part of your Virtual Summer of a Lifetime experience: I got to meet people from all over the world like China, Hawaii, and Hong Kong. I really loved learning a little bit about each other and their cultures, and how they differentiate from my own. I was surprised that even though we weren’t there in person to meet our professor and peers it was still very fun and entertaining talking to everyone and becoming friends.

Biggest Takeaways: This program made me realize that the teacher isn’t always going to ask if you understand what they’re teaching. You have to have the courage to ask questions or you’ll never get to where you have to be. Furthermore, it helped me gain independence and confidence as no one else from my school went there, so I had to get out of my comfort zone and interact with others I’m not familiar with. I am interested in Social Psychology now more than ever after the Stanford program because they went in depth about the human mind and even showed insane experiments taken place around the world that were very fascinating. 

Evelyn Gutierrez, class of 2022, Pritzker College Prep
College/University Program Attended: Southern Illinois University @ Edwardsville (SIUE)
Subject(s) of Study: Healthcare Diversity – Pharmacy, Nursing, Dental Medicine, and Nutrition

Best Part of your Virtual Summer of a Lifetime experience: I was able to learn about the different medical roles that exist beyond Nurse or Doctor. And I got to meet new students my age from other schools. This program showed me that even if we can’t be on campus to learn more about college, we are still able to learn a lot of things about college virtually.

Biggest Takeaways: The program that I took helped me understand what college learning would be like because they showed us many of the things that other students were able to do when they visited the campus in person. I’m definitely more interested in attending SIUE now because I didn’t really know about it at all before this experience. And I learned a lot about what they offer their students. I am still interested in nursing, which I was before this. But now I’m also interested in pharmacy, which I wasn’t really thinking about before.

It made me feel like I could give college a chance and not feel like I can’t do something just because it’s new.  I do think I understand more about how much work college can be and how important it is to focus, but I hope that by the time I go to college it won’t be all done virtually.”

Evelyn Gutierrez
class of 2022
Pritzker College Prep

“The teachers really demystified the whole college experience.

Ruben Nieto
class of 2022
Rauner College Prep

Ruben Nieto, class of 2022, Rauner College Prep 
College/University Program Attended: Lebanon Valley College
Subject(s) of Study: Health and Biomedical Sciences

Best Part of your Virtual Summer of a Lifetime experience: I was able to learn about various fields in medicine, biology, and health. All of the guest speakers were experts in their fields and they really gave all the ups and downs to their careers. I feel more prepared for college. The teachers would give us anecdotes on their college classes and how rigorous it is compared to their high school classes.

Biggest Takeaways: I was able to learn so much more about biomedical sciences. I was able to have college professors and doctors speak to us about their own experiences in the field. Now, I am more interested in pursuing a career in biomedical sciences.

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