nicole-k_fNicole Kwilos received her Give Back scholarship when she was in the 8th grade. Growing up, her parents continually encouraged her to be independent and strive for a college education.

“When they were young, they didn’t have many people telling them to reach for the skies,” Nicole said. “Because of that, they wanted me to do better than them, to have a good life, and be successful. I think that’s part of the reason why I have such a drive to achieve such high goals.”

With the encouragement of her parents and the Give Back Scholarship, Nicole received a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2014. Following graduation, she has continued to take additional courses at Joliet Junior College to better prepare her to receive admission to pharmacy school.

Nicole spent months applying and interviewing to various schools, all the while learning the balance of work and school. A certified pharmacy technician with CVS pharmacy, Nicole says the role has led her to encounter a variety of difficult situations with patients and insurance agencies, teaching her the importance of quality patient care.

After receiving acceptances to all four pharmacy schools she applied to, Nicole has chosen to attend Midwestern University’s Chicago College of Pharmacy.

“It gives me great satisfaction to not only know that all of my hard work has paid off, but also that I am where I am meant to be to further my education,” Nicole said.

When she is not going to school or working, Nicole mentors current Give Back students. Just as she dealt with the stress of AP exams and extracurricular activities throughout high school, Nicole said she finds joy in knowing how much the organization supports each of its students in their struggles. She encourages students to take things one step at a time and not be afraid of making mistakes or having setbacks.

“In the future, I would like to continue to give back to the foundation as a mentor as well as maybe move into another role within the foundation,” Nicole said. “I am not sure what kind of role, but I would do anything to be able to further help kids on their way to succeeding in college.”