For Ivette, Joel, and Erik – HFS brought them together. Although only Erik and Joel had several overlapping years in the program, Ivette helped prepare them for the experience. Now all having graduated from the program, they continue to support each other, as Ivette often offers advice to her younger brothers as they get involved on their respective campuses and begin considering their first internships in the next few years. HFS was the backbone to a rigorous academic life, providing them with guidance as they navigated different private schools, offering workshops to prepare them for collegiate and professional life, and fostering a community that they look back on fondly to this day. 

Ivette Cebrero (2014) – Trinity High School: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 2018; Is an HFS mentor and works in a traditional law firm:

The oldest of the trio, Ivette currently works in corporate immigration. Although she only graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2018, in that short time, she’s already had experience working in a traditional law firm, and recently began a new position at a start-up. Even though the coronavirus has hit her industry hard, she isn’t letting that slow her momentum as she prepares to apply for law school.

HFS was an empowering experience for Ivette. Among the many lessons she learned, she ultimately graduated from the program with the tools and the confidence to leverage the professional network that HFS connected her to. Now – starting her 9th year of involvement with HFS – Ivette is a mentor herself, excited to be providing the exact support and guidance that she relied on when she was a scholar. “It’s a nice way to give back to an organization that gave so much to me.” 

Joel Cebrero (2018) – Notre Dame College Prep: Indiana University Bloomington 2022; 2nd year at Indiana and obtaining a degree in interior design:

Joel’s outgoing nature is serving him well in his second year at Indiana University Bloomington where he’s working towards a degree in interior design. Like most students across the country, he’s taking classes from home. The transition to e-learning has been going well so far, but still he misses the community on campus – both the friends he made in the dorms as well as his peers in his program.

​​​​Community was also important to Joel while in HFS, where he found support from the leaders of the program and camaraderie among other scholars. Now as an undergraduate focused on his career, Joel is finding the lessons from HFS more valuable than ever: “The professional etiquette workshops actually helped a lot.” 

Erik Cebrero (2019)  – St. Ignatius College Prep: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 2023

1st year Architecture Student:

Even though he only just started his second semester as an architecture student, also at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Erik is already making a name for himself in the field. He’s serving as an ambassador for his program, offering advice and guidance to prospective students. Like his older siblings, Joel is also transitioning to on line classes due to COVID-19 and is grateful to HFS for helping him learn how to manage his time. He admits that college could have been much harder for him, but “HFS always had my back.”

It’s no surprise that Erik is already finding ways to contribute to an extensive collegiate community before even finishing his freshman year – one of his favorite aspects of HFS was the volunteer work. “I’m very grateful for what I have, and I want to do the same for others.”