CICS Longwood, Class 2014
Kennedy King College
CICS Longwood graduate LaCrese Smith was recently featured in The Chicago Defender for her part in a student delegation from Kennedy King College, which is up for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. LaCrese and other Kennedy King students spoke with the Aspen team about Kennedy King’s work preparing students for future college and careers. In this profile, she shares her college experiences, future goals, and how she keeps her younger siblings on track.
I’m majoring in criminal justice because I want to eventually become an FBI agent. Last semester, I took a class in criminal justice not for credit, just to see if I enjoyed it- and I did. I really like working with people. For example, in high school I worked with a lot of kids below my age group. I felt like I could relate to what a lot of kids were going through, and my grandmother is a social worker so she taught me a lot.
"If it weren't for entering CICS Longwood in 2010, I would not be the person I am today."
Initially I thought I didn’t want to go to Kennedy King because it was a local school, but my mom went there and I didn’t want to just judge a book by its cover so I did my own research about it. I was thinking about going to school in Texas, but I found that Kennedy King is a great fit for me, especially since my grandmother is sick and I can get home easily from school to see her.
I’ve been able to identify a lot of my goals since I’ve been in college, I’ve joined an African-American group on campus and am part of Phi Beta Kappa as well.
When they found out that Kennedy King was up for the Aspen Prize, my professors recommended me to speak with the visitors from Aspen. Kennedy King has been growing a lot in the last few years, and helping students graduate and transfer.
My plan is to transfer to Dominican University to finish my degree, and then I want to go into the Navy for a year of service. After that, I will hopefully get recruited to work as a police officer, then go back to school to get my master’s degree. I would love to try living somewhere else for a while, maybe even in California.
My time at CICS Longwood was great. My two most memorable times at Longwood were when I first met Mr. Lang, and when I graduated. Meeting Mr. Lang was bittersweet because at first I could only hear yelling in the hallway, but he was telling every student who walked past to "tuck in your shirt" and asking "where's your school shoes?" to make sure everyone was following the rules. I also remember when it was getting closer to my last days being at school. Graduating from CICS Longwood made a big difference in my life because everyone saw my diploma and knew I came from a charter school. If it weren't for entering CICS Longwood in 2010, I would not be the person I am today. I would like to thank you all for being a big support system.
I have a sister who is in ninth grade at CICS Longwood, and a little brother in first grade at CICS Loomis. They really enjoy Longwood and Loomis, and know that school is important. I was at a neighborhood school before I went to CICS, so I always tell my siblings that they have to take advantage of all their resources. I know that when I was in first grade, I didn’t get to learn as many things as my brother does now at Loomis. I’m on my sister about her grades because when I got my first report card my freshman year, my GPA was low and I knew it would be hard to get it back up. I always tell my sister that even though high school is fun and you get to make a lot of new friends, it’s important to focus on work. Friends don’t help you get a good score on the ACT!
"...and if you really want something, you gotta work for it."
I know my sister wants to be a fashion designer, and I tell her that she should also have a backup plan. I wanted to be a choreographer, and my mom tells us that it’s great to have a dream like that but it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get a job the next day. At the end of everything, you have to have something you can fall back on.
And if you really want something, you gotta work for it.