A program that has been an idea in the periphery for the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Access, Success, and Diversity Initiatives over the past couple of years, FastForward to Illinois Tech, has finally launched!

FastForward to Illinois Tech aims to be a transformative program to tackle an issue that greatly affects higher education today: student success rates at community colleges. With many more 1st-generation students seeking access to higher education, community colleges are often the go-to option for resource-constrained families. While community colleges are amazing in their affordability and open access to all, they also have capacity restraints to ensure the success of every one of their students. FastForward to Illinois Tech is designed to help those students interested pursuing an Illinois Tech bachelor’s degree, but who start at a Chicago-area community college, to succeed, as well as to solidify their career/major path. We seek to do this through peer mentoring, on-campus and off-campus career/major exploration events, and access to Illinois Tech’s campus and resources.

The program began on August 23rd with a Pizza party for the first cohort of FastForward scholars. Scholars were introduced to their mentors and the support staff for FastForward: BJ Engelhardt, Program Director, and Ayisat Riley, Program Coordinator.

More events are being planned as the fall semester gets into high gear. Two community college transfer students are sharing amazing stories of their research opportunities in Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering respectively in October, and plans to attend a session of Chicago Ideas Week are also in the works. We hope to plan some job shadow days for before the end of the semester as well.

There is a lot of work to be done to solidify and grow this program, but I truly believe that this will eventually be an indispensable program for the university and have a major impact on talented students studying at Chicago-area community colleges.

BJ Engelhardt
Program Director
FastForward to Illinois Tech

Launch of FastForward to Illinois Tech