Kluger FS Nov2018

Prairie State College made a difference in the life of Homewood resident Cahron Cross, who this fall will be enrolled at Stanford University, one of the nation’s top institutions of higher education.
Cahron Cross is headed for Stanford University after completing the first part of his post-secondary education at Prairie State College. (Provided photo)
  Cahron Cross is headed for
  Stanford University after
  completing the first part of
  his post-secondary education
  at Prairie State College.
(Provided photo)

“Choosing PSC was the best decision of my life,” the Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate said.

Circumstances outside of school took time away from his studies at H-F. When he graduated in 2012, he had a 2.7 grade point average. He wasn’t ready for college.
“At age 18, you’re way too young to know what you want to do with your life,” Cross said. “Just because there is this pressure on you to go to a university, don’t be afraid to go against the grain.” 
While many of his friends were going off to universities, Cross decided to create his own timeline. 
After H-F, he took a two-year break from academia to pursue his passion as a musician and songwriter. He signed with a record label and thought he was on his way to a promising career. But after a time, he says he no longer felt “authentic or fully comfortable” in the music scene.
With some serious soul-searching, Cross realized his drive always came back to academia and learning. He enrolled at PSC and credits the school for giving him a platform to learn efficiently and allowing him to connect with people he thought were equally passionate about learning.
“I would have conversations with professors that kept me up at night because I was so excited about the ideas they presented to me,” Cross recalls. “I had classes that changed the way I looked at the world. I felt like this is what life should feel like; it should be exciting, and I got that through academia.”
During his first year at PSC, Cross says he was not invested in the overall college experience, spending much of his time working. In 2018, after receiving a rejection letter from Stanford, he decided to make some changes by immersing himself into life at PSC, expanding his involvement as a student leader and scholar. 
While his hard work and dedication exemplify the PSC value of excellence, Cross says his success would not have been possible without the dedicated faculty and staff who assisted him along the way.
“PSC has some of the most brilliant, most passionate and genuine people I’ve met,” Cross said. “I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t have such amazing people working to help me.”
Cross asserts that there is no special formula to get into top tier schools. Considering the odds of transferring to Stanford were low, with only one percent of their transfer applicants accepted in 2015, he understood chances were slim. But, it was the uniqueness of his story, he said, that set him apart.
“For anyone trying to do the same thing I did, I would say focus less on trying to get into one of those schools and more on living the best, most interesting life possible,” he advises.
Cross decided to apply to Stanford again. In the 2018-19 school year, he was rejected by three schools and wait-listed by two, including Princeton University and Williams College. The only school he had gotten accepted into, at that point, was the University of Hawaii. 
He said he was shocked when he saw the word “Congratulations” on his letter from Stanford.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Cross said. “I remember saying, ‘Oh my God, I got into Stanford!’ I was just hoping that this wasn’t a mistake. It was like winning the lottery.”
While attending Stanford is a dream come true for Cross, he says the perceived expectations and pressure makes him somewhat nervous.
“This is more than just my success,” said Cross. “If I can do well and actually graduate from Stanford, then I set the path to say that this is possible, and more students from PSC can go to prestigious universities, too.”
He plans to major in mathematics and philosophy, and upon graduation Cross wants to give back to the underrepresented in less wealthy communities, just as the faculty at PSC has done for him.
“One of the most direct, tangible, and powerful ways I can change lives, is in academia,” Cross said. “I think, given my interest, my skillset and things that inspire me, I want to be a professor.”

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