City Colleges of Chicago Honor Star Scholars with a Cording Ceremony as they Prepare to Earn Associate Degree


Majority of Star Scholars are first-generation college students.

City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) Star Scholars earning their associate degree in the 2022-23 school year took part in a Cording Ceremony at Malcolm X College to celebrate a unique Chicago partnership that is helping thousands of Chicago youth earn a post-secondary degree.

“When I first applied to four-year schools, my financial aid didn’t come through.  I pictured bill after bill piling up, and I decided I couldn’t let college create a financial burden for my family. Then I heard about the Star Scholarship, and it made so much sense to attend City Colleges. I was able to connect with Rhonda Hampton, the Star Scholarship program director. City Colleges faculty and staff have also been there every step of the way to help me develop my transfer plan after I graduate in May. I’ll be attending Columbia College Chicago this fall and will continue studying design. I’m currently applying for scholarships to make the second half of my college career as affordable as the first half has been,” said Jocelyn Romero, Harold Washington College student and associate degree earner, Class of 2023.

The Star Scholarship covers tuition and books for up to three years at City Colleges, after the application of financial aid. Students qualify for the Star Scholarship if they graduate from a Chicago Public School or Big Shoulder Fund Catholic high school with at least a 3.0 GPA.  

“Our Star Scholars worked hard to earn their associate degree. It wasn’t an easy road but they did the work and persevered. Students have shared that earning this degree is something they will cherish forever, and we are grateful to have been here to support them,” said Chancellor Juan Salgado, City Colleges of Chicago. “Our Star Scholars’ success confirms that when you remove financial barriers and create a supportive environment, college dreams are realized.”

During the Cording Ceremony, Chancellor Salgado and other City Colleges leaders presented the royal blue cords that the Star Scholars will wear to the City Colleges Commencement ceremony in May. Hundreds of Star Scholars attended the ceremony along with their families, City Colleges of Chicago leaders, faculty and staff.

Since the Star Scholarship program was launched in 2015 more than 15,000 graduates – most of them from Chicago Public Schools – have been named Star Scholars. Nine hundred seventy-three Star Scholar students are expected to graduate this year. More than half of Star Scholars go on to transfer within two years to a four-university.  The top transfer universities for Star Scholars are: Chicago State University, Oak Point University, University of Illinois Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, and DePaul University.

The Star Scholarship is aligned with the work of the Chicago Roadmap, an unprecedented partnership between Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) to support students along a seamless path to and through college on the way to their chosen careers. Through the Roadmap, CPS and CCC are transforming their relationship from a successful collaboration to convergence, with alignment at every level of our organizations. By providing access to high-quality programs, advising and supports, career exploration and preparedness, the Roadmap strives to dramatically and equitably increase student outcomes in college enrollment, college degree attainment, and employment.

“This is one of the amazing education partnerships that makes Chicago unique,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “By working together we are making sure that our students have a clear and affordable pathway to a post-secondary degree. Thousands of our talented students and their families have chosen City Colleges of Chicago as their first step to an amazing future.”

Thursday night’s ceremony featured a Harold Washington College Class of 2023 graduate, Jocelyn Romero and Kennedy-King College alum Vashon Jordan. Vashon now works as director of digital media and photography in the Office of Governor Pritzker.

“The ceremony will honor our Star Scholars who have completed their associate degree and it will also serve as a time for all of us to share their joy,” said Star Scholarship Director Rhonda Hampton, City Colleges of Chicago. “I’m so proud to be part of a program that supports many students who thought they could never afford to go to college. Earning this degree is only the beginning and I know they will go on to do good things in the world.” 

To learn more about the Chicago Star Scholarship program, visit or click here.