The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will honor 53 college-bound youth on Friday, July 22 from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Alhambra Palace in Chicago.

“This time of year is for graduation ceremonies and celebrations, and our youth in care are no different. I would like to congratulate the scholarship recipients for their accomplishments,” said DCFS Director George H. Sheldon in a statement. “I am extremely proud of our recent graduates and current students continuing higher education.”

Attendees will include the four-year scholarship recipients and their families, government officials, and a former youth-in-care guest speaker, according to a release. Rodney Walker, an entrepreneur and author who grew up on the South Side of Chicago., will be this year’s guest speaker. Walker was in foster care and surpassed the drugs and violence that plagued his neighborhood to become an ivy-league school graduate. In 2016, Rodney released his first book, an educational memoir entitled “A New Day One: Trauma, Grace and a Young Man’s Journey from Foster Care to Yale.”

This year’s scholarship honorees, who were selected from nearly 300 applicants from across the state, are from more than 30 cities throughout Chicagoland and outside the state, including Algonquin, Gurnee, Chicago Ridge, Dolton, Decatur, Oak Park, Tinley Park and Northbrook.

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