Harper student named One Million Degrees’ Scholar of the Year

Christian HuertaOne Million Degrees, a pioneering organization that serves and graduates area community college students, named Harper College student Christian Huerta its 2016 Scholar of the Year.

OMD celebrated 150 community college graduates – twice as many graduates as last year – at its annual Scholar Awards ceremony on June 21. The event at Chase Auditorium also recognized the 440 highly motivated, low-income students served by the program this year, and featured keynote speaker Kurt Summers, Treasurer of the city of Chicago.

OMD Scholars attend 11 community colleges across the Chicago area and come from many backgrounds and life experiences. Huerta, of Hoffman Estates, has always been dedicated to following his dreams. When he moved to the United States in his freshman year of high school, he struggled to get the support he needed and was often told he was performing below his classmates.

With the academic, personal, professional and financial supports provided by One Million Degrees while attending Harper College for the past two years, Huerta received his associate degree in May. He will pursue his bachelor’s degree at Northeastern Illinois University this fall.

“One thing I learned is if people don’t make fun of your goals, they’re not big enough,” Huerta said at the Scholar Awards. “Six years ago, I couldn’t even order my own lunch because I didn’t know English. Today I stand before you with an Associate in Arts and plan on double majoring in Latin American studies and political science.”

Huerta also developed a close relationship with his One Million Degrees Coach, Sergio Chapa. Chapa, Senior Managing Director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, helped Huerta explore his college options, keep on track with his goals, and invited Huerta to join him at events hosted by the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and HispanicPro, the Hispanic Professional Network.

The Scholar Awards ceremony was hosted by JPMorgan Chase and was attended by more than 450 scholars, volunteer coaches, supporters and guests.

One Million Degrees is the only organization of its kind in Illinois dedicated to providing comprehensive supports to low-income, highly motivated community college students to help them succeed in school, in work and in life. From tutors and coaches to financial assistance and life-skills training, OMD offers the kind of support that empowers scholars to transform their lives in a way that will resonate for generations. OMD Scholars graduate at two times the state average with the skills and experiences necessary to launch upwardly mobile professional careers.

For more information about the organization or how to get involved coaching an OMD Scholar, visit onemilliondegrees.org.

Media contact:  Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159

Last Updated: 11/3/21