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CPS Alums Step Up To Help Seniors With College Essays While Teachers Are On Strike

A Whitney Young alum who recalled her own pre-college stress recruited other alums to help edit the essays.

(from left) Whitney Young alum Aleksa Sorgatz, 20, recruited other CPS alumni to help edit CPS seniors' college essays while teachers are on the picket line.
Provided; Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — As the Chicago teachers strike entered the 10th day with no resolution in sight, CPS seniors aren’t getting the help they need to write their college essays, some of which are due in just a couple of days.

That’s why Whitney Young alum Aleksa Sorgatz set up a system that allows her and other CPS alumni to edit college essays while teachers are on the picket line.

“Normally they’d be able to get help in school, but right now the teachers are out there fighting for them and they can’t help edit their essays. To provide these kids with some kind of help in this process is really important,” Sorgatz said.

This time a few years ago Sorgatz, now 20, was too busy with her college applications to enjoy Halloween.

“Halloween was so miserable. I was going through all of my essays one last time,” Sorgatz said. “I was at my dining room table, in my pajamas, typing. It was really sad.”

Credit: Provided
(from left) Whitney Young alums Adam Flam, Natalia Almanza, Aleksa Sorgatz, Phoebe Glimm, Jaiyanni Ortiz, Genevieve Zilmer, Brashana Trammell, and Michelle Liu. Flam, Almanza and Ortiz are all volunteer editors along with Sorgatz.

Sorgatz, now a junior at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, said she’s worried current CPS seniors are under even more stress because they don’t have access to their teachers and writing centers. Early action and early decision college applications for schools all over the country are due Friday.

“I had the teachers and writing centers available to me, and without that guidance, I would’ve been lost,” she said.

Sorgatz launched a Google form last Thursday, the sixth day of the strike, that pairs up seniors with college students. Since then, nearly 70 seniors have submitted their essays for editing.

Sorgatz said an overwhelming number of college students and CPS alumni have volunteered to edit the essays.

“It was my idea, but I wouldn’t be ale to do it without the support of other alums,” she said. “There’s been a ton more responses than there have been from the seniors. People are really enthusiastic.”

Many of the students who submitted essays so far go to schools on the North Side like Whitney Young and Walter Payton College Prep, where her brother goes. Sorgatz is hoping to attract more students in other parts of the city while the strike continues.

It’s important, Sorgatz said, for CPS alumni to give back to the communities that helped shape them.

“I feel like it’s almost a way to enable social mobility,” she said.

Go here for Sorgatz’s Google form.

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