One Million Degrees welcomes first Harper scholars

September 11, 2014

One Million Degrees (OMD) is thrilled to welcome the first class of OMD Harper Scholars.

Forty-one low-income, highly motivated Harper College students have been selected to become One Million Degrees Scholars. OMD empowers community college students to excel academically, and ensures that they are well prepared to enter the workforce in diverse and meaningful careers.

"We are excited to be working hand-in-hand with Harper College to ensure their students excel in the classroom and beyond," OMD CEO Paige Ponder said. "This partnership is a great example of how community colleges and community-based organizations can effectively partner to support more low-income students as they earn degrees and move into the middle class."

One Million Degrees is providing the 41 Harper College Scholars with comprehensive student support services, including a dedicated staff person, a personal coach, monthly professional development workshops, financial literacy training, career exploration activities, leadership development and financial assistance. Harper College is providing staff support, weekly individual tutoring, space and materials for OMD programming while helping recruit volunteers and partners to support the program.

The scholars will attend their first development session and meet their individual coaches Saturday, Sept. 20, at Harper. Afterward, they'll board a bus and head to Brooks Brothers in Deer Park for a suit fitting.

When Hoffman Estates resident Homira Wardak was in high school, she volunteered at a hospital and fell in love with the field of health science. This passion led her to pursue a degree in science at Harper College.  She is now thrilled to have the support of the One Million Degrees program as she works towards her degree.

"I believe the program will help me be more involved in my community, find more confidence in myself, and more importantly, help me achieve my goals," Wardak said.

OMD Scholars are graduating from community colleges at a rate of 70 percent – three times the state average – and transferring to four-year colleges and universities or entering the workforce in high-demand fields. For more information, visit

Media contact: Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159.

Note: Reporters are welcome to attend the development session and/or the suit fitting at Brooks Brothers.