Upon her family’s arrival to the United States in 2010, WenWen Xie knew just enough English to introduce herself. Today, this Lake View High School scholar is college bound as a 2016 recipient of the prestigious Duchossois Leadership Scholarship to attend Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), her top-choice university.
The Duchossois Leadership Scholarship is one of the highest honors IIT offers to its students. Awards are given based on academic merit, leadership, and an interview. According to an admission representative at IIT, “The finalists for this award represent one of the most diverse and talented groups of prospective students [IIT] has ever met, which made the selection process this year especially competitive.” With this award, WenWen will receive a full tuition scholarship for four years, fully funded housing and meal plans, as well as participation in a fully funded leadership opportunity over the summer at IIT - an overall total value of nearly $250,000.
Receiving this scholarship means more than just being able to afford her top college. For Wenwen and her family, this scholarship is a dream come true. The move from China to the United States was challenging for WenWen, especially because at first she struggled academically. Yet, this young scholar was determined to show her appreciation to her parents through her hard work and leadership. WenWen shared, “When I arrived in the United States and started middle school, I decided that I had to start studying and get good grades. I wanted to go to college. I just knew I would need a scholarship.” Hard work and determination have become a part of WenWen’s daily life.
She starts her day at Lake View studying in Dual Credit, Honors, and Advanced Placement courses before traveling to Chicago’s Chinatown where she tutors recent immigrants, students just like herself only years ago. She also works two days a week with an internship at the Asian American Advancing Justice Foundation. After studying, volunteering, and working every day, she finally returns home to prepare a meal for her family. After dinner, it’s back to studying and eventually sleep. The weekends are no different. On Saturdays, WenWen works a twelve-hour day at a local restaurant. “There’s not a lot of time for socializing in my life,” says Wenwen, except for Sunday when she allows herself time to enjoy her favorite activity, sleep.
WenWen attributes much of her success to the support she receives from Lake View High School, particularly the English Second Language (ESL) department. “Ms. Esman (ESL coordinator) and the other ESL students are like family. We support each other and never feel embarrassed or awkward if we can’t speak English well. Ms. Esman is always there for us.”
WenWen Xie’s great dedication and achievements are just the beginning for a young woman who overcame obstacles to be on top of the world.