We are proud to empower and support Chicago students so they can achieve college and career success. The students we serve come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have many different career interests, yet they all share one goal: to get into college, graduate from college, and go far in life.

We invite you to meet some of our incredible students by reading their stories of success.

Jera Moses - “You don’t have to do it alone. My Success Advisors have always been amazing."

Jera Moses first joined Bottom Line in 2020 as a high school senior. Through Bottom Line’s Access Program, she worked with her Advisor to identify Loyola University Chicago as the best-fit school for her college experience. Today, Jera shares more about what it means to be a first-generation college student and how Bottom Line has supported her college experience, “The courage to be the first has been in my mind a lot. I got scared when I reached junior year because it was surreal. I didn’t think I would make it this far and I still get scared sometimes, but I keep going.” 

Life in college can be hard, both academically and personally, and still Jera persists. “Sometimes it’s hard to get up and want to go to class, but I still try even when I can’t see that I’ll get through. I’m proud that I take God with me through this. I see that even though I have to learn what college is like along the way, I let myself be taught by what I don’t understand and as a first-gen student, I find myself looking to learn what this experience brings and to not give up so quickly.” 

After college, Jera dreams of starting her own small business: a community fresh food market. “I am also looking forward to starting two nonprofits, one focused on support and rehabilitation for the homeless and immigrants in Chicago, that I want to start with a friend. The second is an Urban Farm that will supply at least 60% of my small business' produce.” She plans on building a career in sustainable agriculture and community engagement. 

More than anything, Jera wants other first-generation students to know that “You don’t have to do it alone. My Success Advisors have always been amazing. They go above and beyond. When it comes to finding tutoring sessions, summer jobs, study techniques, even assistance with finances and mental health— my Advisors have always come through for me. My most meaningful moment will always be taking out my first loan and Miles was there every step of the way.” 

She adds, “When it comes to being a first-gen student, the fight to get this degree and take it one class at a time will always be my answer. It’s important to invest in us because, for me at least, and others I have spoken with, we do this because we want change, and we will chase it. It reminds me that school isn’t necessary, but it is a choice. I made this choice because I have hopes and I want to fulfill them. Bottom Line is helping me reach those hopes and dreams. I wish more people realized that college is different for everyone. Not one person is the same and there is no set way to do things. School is a tool, let it enhance what you have.” 


Sarah Sanchez—" I am the first in my family to have the opportunity to attend a four year university..."

Whitney M. Young Magnet School - University of Illinois at Chicago

Sarah grew up on the south side of Chicago, graduating from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in 2015. During her senior year, Sarah was a student in Bottom Line - Chicago's Access Program. As part of the application process, Sarah shared her reason for joining the Access Program during its inaugural year in Chicago, explaining, "I need college access help because I don't really have anyone to guide me through the college and scholarship process. I am the first in my family to have the opportunity to attend a four year university which is overwhelming."

With the encouragement and guidance of her Bottom Line advisor, Sarah expertly navigated the college application process and received a large scholarship from Chicago Public Schools to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Now a first year college student at UIC, this budding biology major has continued with Bottom Line as part of the Success Program. Sarah's story of success is so remarkable that Bottom Line nominated her and the White House selected her to be one of 140 students invited to attend Reach Higher’s “Beating the Odds” Summit hosted by the First Lady in July 2015

Heriberto Valadez—Building language skills and habits for success at UIC

University of Illinois at Chicago

Heriberto is a second year student at UIC who is also in his second year of participating in Bottom Line - Chicago’s Success Program. Like many students, Heriberto’s transition to college did not go as smoothly as he hoped. Heriberto faced language barriers in the classroom because he first began learning English when he immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in August 2011. At the same time, Heriberto had difficulty managing all of the freedom that came from living alone and being responsible for his own schedule in college.

Heriberto has overcome these challenges in his second year at UIC. Working with his Bottom Line advisor, Heriberto was able to identify campus resources that provide more practice for his English writing classes. Additionally, over the summer Heriberto was selected through a competitive process to participate in the CFI Partners Fellowship, a program where one of Bottom Line - Chicago’s board members hosted lunch and learns at his corporate office with different professionals speaking about their careers. These experiences have made Heriberto more confident to speak up and share his opinion in the classroom and helped him to become his own advocate academically in building language skills. The other area of success for Heriberto has come from first-hand experience and applying tips from his advisor to better manage his time, build productive habits that balance social life and school work, and stay organized around his responsibilities.