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CPS student surprised with full-ride scholarship to U of Chicago

Anthony Alvarez Reyes, a senior at Lane Tech College Prep High School, got the news at school by admissions officers from the University of Chicago, who told him he’d received a full-ride scholarship to one of the nation’s top schools.

Lane Tech high school senior Anthony Alvarez Reyes (left) was surprised with an admission to University of Chicago on Friday. Lane Tech Senior Anthony Alvarez at a surprise ceremony finds out he is the first member of the University of Chicago’s Class of 2026 on Friday, October 22, 2021 in Chicago, IL. Alvarez will receive a full-ride scholarship. Photography by Eddie Quinones.
Lane Tech high school senior Anthony Alvarez Reyes (left) was surprised with admission to the University of Chicago on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.
Eddie Quinones/University of Chicago

This was not just any normal school day.

Anthony Alvarez Reyes, a senior at Lane Tech College Prep High School, was surprised during school by representatives from the University of Chicago, who told the CPS student he was accepted into the school’s class of 2022 — and would be receiving a full-ride scholarship.

‘“Everyone agrees that you’re not just driven and ambitious, but you’re also caring and considerate,” Veronica Hauad, deputy director of admissions at the University of Chicago, told Alvarez Reyes as she presented him with his admission letter. “On behalf of the University of Chicago, we want to admit you to the class of 2026 with a full-ride scholarship.”

Shocked to hear the news, Alvarez Reyes embraced his parents, and his mother began to cry.

“All of his focus and dedication in school really was worth it,” said Anthony’s mom, Susana Reyes, in Spanish. “We’re so proud.”

Anthony Alvarez Reyes embraces his parents, Susana Reyes and Septimio Alvarez, after being presented with his full-ride scholarship to UChicago. Lane Tech Senior Anthony Alvarez at a surprise ceremony finds out he is the first member of the University of Chicago’s Class of 2026 on Friday, October 22, 2021 in Chicago, IL. Alvarez will receive a full-ride scholarship. Photography by Eddie Quinones.
Anthony Alvarez Reyes embraces his parents, Susana Reyes and Septimio Alvarez, after being presented with his full-ride scholarship to tue University of Chicago.
Eddie Quinones/University of Chicago.

Alvarez Reyes, a native of Little Village, will attend the prestigious university in Hyde Park with a full scholarship, covering room, board and tuition. The CPS student thanked his parents and teachers for helping him throughout high school, which he said was often made difficult by experiences with bullying and violence in his community.

“There have been so many challenges in my life,” he said. “I didn’t believe this was going to happen. I’m at a loss for words. … The students that live in Little Village, you can also do this. I believe in you.”

Alvarez Reyes, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, will be the first in his family to attend college.

He is the first student to receive an acceptance to the University of Chicago’s 2026 freshman class. And it’s no easy feat —the school typically accepts less than 10% of its applicants each year.

Alvarez Reyes plans on majoring in biology with the hope of becoming a doctor. At a young age, he watched his younger sister undergo multiple rounds of cardiac surgery, leading to his goal in becoming a pediatrician.

“I would be there at the hospital, sitting there, watching my little sister as pumps went down her nose,” he recounted. “I saw how the doctors helped her live, and I want to be able to help little kids as well.”

Alvarez Reyes said watching his younger sister undergo pediatric surgery was influential in his life. The experience led him to apply pre-med to UChicago, and to focus hard on school.
Alvarez Reyes said watching his younger sister undergo pediatric surgery was influential in his life. The experience led him to apply for the pre-med program at the University of Chicago, and motivated him to focus on his studies.
Eddie Quinones/University of Chicago.

His guidance counselor, Nakia Blanton-Morgan, initially told Alvarez Reyes and his parents they needed to come to school for a “special college interview.” After being led to a courtyard with balloons and maroon T-shirts, the family soon realized Alvarez Reyes was University of Chicago bound — no interview necessary.

“It’s actually funny because I’m horrible at lying,” Blanton-Morgan said. “I was stumbling over my words when he came into the office. ... It was very exciting. He is the most well-deserving kid.”

Alvarez Reyes said his hopes of becoming a doctor pushed him to stay focused on his schoolwork. Since his freshman year, Alvarez Reyes has never missed a day of school, something he thanks his father for — his father drove him to school every day.

Alvarez Reyes’ physics teacher, Lindsey Vetvick, said even during the online learning process, Alvarez Reyes remained a dedicated student, always staying after class to ask questions and hear from his peers.

Alvarez Reyes thanked his family, who he said is his ‘everything,’ for supporting him throughout his struggles in high school.
Alvarez Reyes thanked his family, who he said is his “everything,” for supporting him throughout his time in high school.
Eddie Quinones/University of Chicago.

“He was always looking for an opportunity to learn,” said Vetvick, who described him as a humble, driven student.

Though Alvarez Reyes plans on living on campus, he said the university’s Hyde Park location was a factor in choosing the school, as it’s just a short commute home for family visits.

“My family is everything; I love them so much,” he said. “I want to give everything back to them. They supported me through everything.”