Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Student Spotlight: Whitney Hemphill

Whitney Hemphill is a senior at Wells Community Academy High School who is completing her SIXTH year at Cabrini Connections. Whitney was born and raised in Cabrini Green but she is moving to the south side next month. “It’s time for something new,” she says. She enjoyed growing up in Cabrini Green because a lot of people were around and she made a lot of friends, but now a lot of those people have moved away.

Whitney is the youngest of five children. “I used to get anything I wanted,” she says. Her older sister, Angelene, graduated from Cabrini Connections in 2009. She now attends Harold Washington College. Whitney and Angelene were in the Art Club together for several years. That is one of the activities that first hooked Whitney into the program.

“Cabrini Connections has made my grades go up,” she says. “I’d still have Ds and Fs if I hadn’t come here.” And she kept coming despite going through six tutors! Whitney had bad luck with tutors leaving for various reasons like moving or enrolling in graduate school, but in 2011, she finally found “my main tutor” – first year volunteer Cat Reading. “She is here all the time and she understands my work,” says Whitney. “We get done with everything, even if we have to work extra late.” Cat is one of several volunteers who have come to us from Groupon. (Cabrini Connections will be featured on the popular deals site during the week of June 6th!)

Whitney’s advice for the student is to “keep your head up. Don’t give up. [High school] might be hard, but you can make it through if you pay attention.” For tutors, she says, “Keep coming. Keep helping us. Enjoy being with us. And even though it’s not a paid position, we thank you for coming.” Very kind words from one of our most distinguished graduates!

In the long term, Whitney wants to move away from Chicago. She would like to visit Miami, New York, and China. As a career, she would like to pursue nursing. It has been her goal to become a nurse since 8th grade when she visited a hospital. She likes taking care of people. In fact, she has a one-year-old daughter, Azaria, who has had “a huge impact on my life.” Whitney changed a lot for the better this year with the added responsibility of raising a baby girl.

For college, Whitney is deciding between Chicago State University and Robert Morris University. She is looking to enroll in January 2012. Until then, she is searching for a part-time job, so if you have any leads, let us know and we’ll pass along the information!

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