Like many high school seniors, Kaylee Flowers applied to a handful of colleges eagerly waiting to hear back, but found herself with a different dilemma than most.
Flowers, a senior at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, 6130 S. Wolcott Ave., who lives in Bronzeville, ended up earning nearly $1 million in scholarships and aid and has been accepted to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Boston University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Michigan, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, North Carolina A&T and the Milwaukee School of Engineering.
Flowers decided to attend Washington University in St. Louis this fall, where she will major in biomedical engineering.
“It felt like the right fit,” said Flowers. “I loved it when I visited and I could see myself there.”
Passionate and dedicated to medicine and engineering, Flowers hopes to one day work in the field of prosthetics and artificial limbs.
Since 2018, she’s participated in the University of Chicago’s STEM Initiative within the Office of Special Programs-College Prep (OSP).
The U. of C. STEM Initiative is a free, multi-year science enrichment program within OSP that is open to 9th and 10th grade students attending any Chicago Public School. The program allows students the opportunity to interact with University faculty, staff, students and labs.
“Kaylee was one of those students who stood out,” said Dovetta McKee, Director of the OSP. “She was always hardworking and determined in her work.”
OSP aims to provide Chicago Public School students living within the proximity of the U. of C.'s campus with the opportunity to prepare them for college and career success.
Activities include tutoring, academic advising and enrichment on topics ranging from STEM to financial literacy.
In a typical year, OSP offers students nationwide college tours and weeklong live-in programs on campus, but programming shifted online due to the pandemic. Though the unusual year did not stop Flowers.
“I couldn’t have done it without my family,” said Flowers. “They have supported me all the way through.”
OSP serves more than 100 students each year since it was founded in 1968; in total, it has helped over 3,000 students on Chicago’s South Side prepare for college.
Aside from OSP, Flowers was involved in the Bronzeville Youth and Identity Collaborative program, a weekly series led by University of Chicago’s Community Service Center within the Office of Civic Engagement in partnership with University of Chicago Hillel, which creates a collaborative, co-learning space for U. of C. students and Bronzeville high school students to learn and reflect on identity, ownership of narrative, and advocacy through storytelling and art, before producing a final community art project.
Flowers is also involved with theater and arts and plans on spending more time with it when she gets to St. Louis.
“It’s something I have always been involved with,” Flowers said. “I love theater.”