2021 HEAR Summer Scholar Event

In July, we were delighted to be able to hold an in-person summer scholar event. This year’s freshman class is smaller than in recent years, but these young men and women are as determined to succeed in college as the scholars who have come before them.

Freshmen students were engaged with the “College 101” workshop led by HEAR’s Executive Director, Vera Pollina. Advice included building relationships with teaching assistants and tutors, registering for classes early, establishing what resources are available on campus. The workshop sparked some fun discussions.

We also welcomed some of our sophomore class who shared some aspects about their first year of college and provided some sage advice to their new cohorts. Friendships were built and contact information was shared. The HEAR Family continues to grow!

Finally, the freshman class were given their freshman college baskets, put together but the indomitable Mary Sue Smith, head of HEAR’s Enrichment Committee and every scholar’s favorite person!



Save The Date – Saturday, November 12th, 2022.

We are delighted to announce the return of HEAR’s Annual Fundraising Event! After a two-year hiatus, we are excited to celebrate with you in-person again.

Where: Double Clutch Brewing, Evanston.
Time: 7pm – midnight
What: Live music, drinks, food, silent auction and more!

Please join us for what is sure to be a fun-filled evening to remember! Buy your tickets online, register for our silent auction, and more here.

Our 2019 Annual Fundraiser Was Outstanding!

This year’s event was a truly celebratory occasion. We recognized HEAR Board of Director, Patti Kelly, for her amazing work on redesigning our mentoring program, one of the key components of our overall scholarship program.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able to exceed our fundraising goals for the evening. All proceeds from the event will be directed to our Scholarship Program and continue to fund HEAR Scholars during their quest to achieve a higher education.

We hope those of you who were able to join us had a wonderful evening and look forward to seeing you at this year’s event in November.

Photographs from the evening, are available by clicking on the link below.


2019 HEAR Summer Scholar Event

In July, we held our annual HEAR Summer Scholar Event. We are grateful to Chicago Scholars who very generously allowed us to use their offices for the occasion. It is always wonderful to see our new class of scholars connecting with each other in a less formal setting, where they get an opportunity to discuss their impending journeys. We are fortunate to have generous donors and supporters and it is particularly rewarding to see this event grow year-on-year as the number of scholars in each new class increases.

Mary Sue Smith, chair of our HEAR Enrichment Committee, joined us to explain her group’s role in solidifying the family feeling of being part of the HEAR Program. She gave each scholar their first HEAR Care Package to take to college. Contents included a mini first- aid kit, wipe-board and pen, USB stick, water bottle, post-it notes and snacks.

We were very grateful to be joined by representatives from Spencer Stuart, a Chicago-based executive search and recruitment organization, who gave an insightful presentation on completing applications for future internships and jobs. There was an energetic discussion about networking, resume writing and building an appropriate online presence. Their advice was very well received and we are grateful to them for donating their time to help support our scholars.

Towards the end of the day, we were fortunate to be joined by some of our existing and graduated scholars. Over pizza and cookies, they gave advice and shared experiences from their own journeys. Talking to peers who have an understanding of how our new scholars feel hopefully dispelled some of their concerns.

Thank you to everyone who made our event such a success. We look forward to watching their progress over the next four years!

The HEAR Annual Awards Ceremony Was A Celebratory Affair!

We had a wonderful time at our 2019 Annual Awards Ceremony. As our family of HEAR Scholars grows, so does the number of people who attend this wonderful celebration to recognize the academic high school success of our new class of HEAR Scholars. In 2019, we welcomed 30 new students into our HEAR Family and applauded the scholars who made up this year’s graduating class.

We were honored to be joined by Shermin Kruse as our Keynote Speaker. A novelist, partner, and COO of Kruse Asset Management and partner at law firm Barrack Ferrazzano, Shermin was named as one of Chicago’s “Women of Inspiration” by Today’s Chicago Magazine, and one of the nation’s top 100 “Women to Watch” by Biz Women Magazine, Shermin is committed to improving local communities within the Chicagoland area.

After immigrating to the US, Shermin attained an educational pedigree, including an honors BSc. degree from the University of Toronto, a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, a mediation certificate from the Northwestern School of Professional Studies and an Emerging Leader fellowship at the Chicago Counsel on Global Affairs.

Shermin likened walking through life as a lot like playing the world’s most popular video game, where competition is fierce and sometimes you get betrayed. She set out the top five rules of life as taught by Fortnite:

  1. Just like in life, you will lose. A lot;
  2. Don’t play like a coward;
  3. Don’t forget what makes Fortnite special – building;
  4. Never, ever forget to dance!
  5. Learn to emote. Put your heart out there.

Her final words to our HEAR Scholars and their families were to have the strength to own the action. Dream every day, but build that dream from the ground up. Put in the work to crafting your base, which begins, first and foremost with your education. Don’t forget to dance along the way. And above all, have the courage to hold out your heart, and trust that the right people will not betray you.

We are very grateful to Shermin for taking the time out of her busy schedule to attend our event and also to St. Ignatius for allowing us to host our awards ceremony in their beautiful Foglia Library.

For more information on Shermin visit: https://www.bfkn.com/professionals-51.

Phoographs from left to right: HEAR President, Chris Eigel welcomes our guests; Shermin Kruse, our Keynote Speaker engages our audience by comparing life to a game of Fortnite; HEAR Executive Director, Vera Pollina, talks to our new HEAR Class of 2023; our guests are absorbed by our speakers.

Scholars Had Fun At The 2018 Winter Event

In late December, the HEAR Family of Scholars came together for our annual Winter Social at Pompei Pizza in Little Italy. We love this event for many reasons, not the least of which is that we get to reflect upon a full year with our scholars. Our Freshmen in particular have had life-changing experiences, and we were thrilled to have an opportunity to share a meal, listen, and learn.

Along with several of our staff and directors, this year HEAR also welcomed two special guests: Dr. Terri Thorkildsen from the College of Education at the University at Illinois at Chicago, and Jerrold Rumps, Outplacement Specialist and Career Transition Strategist with Challenger, Gray and Christmas. Professor Thorkildsen met with the Freshmen for a very lively Q&A on their first college year. Our Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors were able to gain invaluable insights from Mr. Rumps about what is now uppermost on many of their minds: resume building and job searches, the right internship, a good interview strategy, and how to combat the jitters. Our scholars asked great questions and made excellent use of this unique opportunity. A big thank you again to Jerome and Terri for becoming part of the HEAR Family!

HEAR Directors joined the scholars for pizza and dessert and some necessary shop talk. They were able to find out directly from the scholars what their needs and concerns are, and in what ways we can help – be that with guidance and advice, contacts for internships, or specific expertise in a field of interest.

Events like these allow our scholars to build the networks that they need to be successful. If you want to be part of it, please do not hesitate to contact us!

– becoming a mentor and working directly with a scholar;
– supporting a scholar with access to internships, job shadowing, or even job openings;
– joining us as a guest speaker at one of our scholar events and workshops;
– sharing opportunities and expertise from your industry with us.

Simply send an email to info@hearfoundation.org;
visit our website at hearfoundation.org;
or give us a call at 847.834.9124 to find out how.

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