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The University of Chicago Collegiate Scholars Program
950 East 61st Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Tel. 773.834.2774 
Fax: 773.834.3764

University of Chicago Collegiate Scholars Program Staff


Abel Ochoa was born and raised in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Abel graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish. Abel also holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration degree from Northwestern University.  He knows firsthand how difficult it can be to prepare for college. The challenges Abel faced as a high school student and his recent professional experience have fueled his desire to be an agent of change in the field of education. Abel has experience working with high school students, parents, faculty, undergraduate students and knowledge in college admission and financial aid.  Abel has a true passion and desire to see that all students, regardless of ability, realize their dream of attaining higher education. 


Prior to joining CSP, Whitney managed Teen Empowerment Programs for the Chicago office of the national non-profit Step Up Women’s Network. Acting as the bridge between Step Up teen members and adult mentors, she was responsible for the execution of Step Up's full trajectory of programming at each of Step Up's four partner schools as well as the execution of Saturday mentoring workshops and special events. Whitney was promoted to Senior Manager of Teen Programs in 2012, leading Step Up’s national teen cohort, reshaping Step Up's evaluation process and taking the lead in developing a successful college and career readiness curriculum.

Whitney began her career in youth development as the resource coordinator at ACT Charter School, a middle school and high school in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. The lead partner agency managing her community school partnership was the Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) at Columbia College Chicago. She led a team of part-time teaching artists and diverse stakeholders to create programs, events and classes for students and families in support of the social and emotional development of the students in the community. Programs included arts-integrated health and wellness, confidence-building, mentorship and college and career readiness. She has had much success engaging and building relationships with many different groups of people, including administrative partner school staff, Chicago Public Schools Office of Extended Learning, The Illinois State Board of Education, various local funders, parents, community leaders and especially young people.

Whitney has experience and a passion for building community partnerships and engaging the resources around her to create amazing programs and experiences that will shape a young person's future. Having managed a federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, including tasks related to reporting and reapplying for a new cycle, she has the leadership and operational skills necessary to create sustainable change for Chicago youth.

Whitney graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Screenwriting. Her senior thesis script was optioned by an independent production studio in Los Angeles. She was a USC Presidential and Associates Scholar and received the Oak Park Area Fine Council Award. She is also trained in the Technology of Participation Facilitation Methods.