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#WeAreChicago: Devine Drakes

Written by Danielle Veira on Dec 4, 2018

“Devine is one of the most inspiring and influential undergraduate students that I have met during my tenure at National Louis University. She throws all of her passion and drive into both her work as a Student Ambassador and her studies as an NLU student. I am confident that, when she graduates, she will be an incredibly positive influence on society.” -Michelle Petersen, M.Ed, Enrollment Specialist, Pathways at National Louis University

There’s an undeniable energy that comes into the room with Devine Drakes—from her bubbly personality to her infectious smile, she exudes an excitement about life and the possibilities that her future holds. That bright future isn’t something she takes for granted as a girl who was born and raised in Roseland, a neighborhood in Chicago’s far southside. A junior at National Louis University and a student ambassador for their Pathways program, one of A Better Chicago’s grantees, Devine embodies one of our most deeply held beliefs: that education changes everything.

Devine has overcome her share of hurdles. When she was a junior in high school, her mother abandoned the family, creating both an emotional and logistical challenge for Devine who was in the midst of applying to college. Filling out her FAFSA and the family information on her college applications was now even more complex for Devine, who already saw college as financially out of reach. Her college guidance counselor introduced Devine to the Pathways program, which provided both an affordable option and a close-knit community that has allowed Devine to thrive.

“I want to be a role model to the kids in Roseland who might not think they can achieve their dreams. I want to show those kids that if someone like me—who was born and raised in Roseland—can make it, then so can they. My father always told me never to forget where you come from and I want to make sure I give back to my community in any way I can.” – Devine Drakes

As a student who was served by two of A Better Chicago’s grantees, Noble Network of Charter Schools and Pathways, Devine has benefitted from programs that empower and challenge her to reach her educational goals. She also credits her father with her success as a student, saying it was his encouragement that led her to apply to Pathways even when she was skeptical about college as an option. Devine wants to be a bilingual psychologist and is on track to graduate with an undergraduate degree in human services and psychology. Her father continues to be an encouraging presence, cheering her on to higher heights and inspiring her to pursue her doctorate.

When asked what a better Chicago looks like to her, Devine passionately shares that she wants to see her city’s leaders advance policies that empower the families and children in neighborhoods like hers to succeed. She wants to see Chicagoans of all races, religions and political leanings come together to invest in and improve the city she loves. And she plans to play a big part in making the change she wants to see happen.

Devine is building a better Chicago. Learn more about the incredible people who make up our community at #WeAreChicago

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