Xreesol Lopez, a 2109 graduate of the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos campus of YCCS, is already on course to follow her passion for baking into college and beyond. Xreesol, who recently participated in the annual YCCS Civic Engagement Challenge, was the recipient of a $2,000 college scholarship for Puerto Rican high school graduates. She plans to use the scholarship to attend a culinary school to pursue her goal of becoming a professional baker. She hopes one day to open her own pastry shop in her Humboldt Park neighborhood.
Xreesol has just completed a busy senior year at school. Her academic highlights included researching the life and contributions of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, for whom her campus was named, for her scholarship essay, as well as making connections between his life and current social issues in Chicago’s Puerto Rican community.
As a member of her campus Civic Engagement Challenge team, she and her teammates chose the topic of neighborhood gentrification to actively research during the year. Xreesol observed that “I’d noticed that over the last few years living in Humboldt Park, people no longer walked by and said hello if we were sitting on our front porch. We once played in our front yard, but now the neighborhood has become more expensive and so many new people have moved in that we no longer get to hang out on our porches or front yards the way we did when I was younger. The sense of community seems to be disappearing.”
She feels strongly that resisting gentrification echoes the social activism of Dr. Albizu Campos, who spent many years in jail for trying to fight for human rights and independence for the Puerto Rican people. Albizu Campos was the topic of her senior scholarship essay. “Understanding who Dr. Albizu Campos was and what he did in his life helped me figure out who I am and what I wanted to do with my future.”
Xreesol believes that attending Campos was transformative in her life. “At first I thought Campos was going to be a school like any other school. Now I realize that my life has changed for the good by transferring here. It has been the greatest decision I’ve made so far.”