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Educational Talent Search Staff


Sybria Davis

Educational Talent Search Staff

North Chicago High School

During her years at Waukegan High School, Sybria Davis battled arch-rival North Chicago as a volleyball player and as a member of the high-spirited, pom-pom dance team.

Today, the former rival school is now Sybria’s job site, where she happily mentors students as a student service specialist for CLC’s Educational Talent Search program. In addition to academic advising, Sybria leads students on college visits and helps them fill out college and financial aid applications. She also takes student so personal-growth events such as the college’s annual ManUp, Jobapalooza and Sister2Sister events.

As Sybria sees it, her job is a way of giving back to her community and helping instill in today’s youth the value of a college education. A 2006 graduate of WHS, Sybria is a first generation college student, having earned a B.S. degree in family and child studies and an M.S. in adult and higher education from Northern Illinois University.

“Attending college has broadened my horizons as a person, as a student and as a professional. Providing services to underrepresented students is gratifying,” Sybria said. “I have a passion for working with youth and the student population, and my goal is to continue working as an educator and counselor.”

Sybria tells her students that CLC is a great place to start college. “Every NCCHS senior is required to apply to five colleges before graduation,” she explained. “The College of Lake County is always among those colleges. Many students worry about the financial stressors of college and view CLC as a priority option. I also tell them about the transfer agreements that CLC has with many four-year colleges.”


Ashley Cullen-Williams

Educational Talent Search Staff

Waukegan High School

Giving back to her high school alma mater is a daily activity for Ashley Cullen-Williams.

As a student services specialist in CLC’s Educational Talent Search program, Ashley spends many hours each week connecting with students at Waukegan High School, where she graduated from in 2006.

She advises students on their academic goals and mentors students on life skills such as how to manage stress. Ashley also leads workshops on topics ranging from time management and study skills to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

Outside of the high-school campus, Ashley organizes visits to colleges, an eye-opening experience for many students. “It is an amazing opportunity and learning experience for our students to step on a college campus—and sometimes outside of their comfort zone—in hopes that they will find a good fit,” she said.

Ashley herself proved to be a good fit for college. After graduating from WHS, Ashley attended Alabama A & M University, where she graduated in 2009 with a major in community planning-urban studies and a minor in sociology. Following graduation, Ashley served as substitute teacher of reading and American history in the Waukegan school district before landing her current job at CLC.

“Having a college education has been very advantageous, especially when it comes to learning new skills, networking and applying for jobs,” she explained. “After graduating from college, I was able to come back home and get a stable, well-paying job in the education field. Had I not earned a degree, this opportunity would not have been offered to me. A degree is a symbol of hard work and diligence. It shows that you went through the process successfully and are marketable in many arenas.”

Ashley continues to build her marketable skills through education. “Next year, I will be starting a master’s degree program in counseling psychology,” said Ashley, whose mother is a registered nurse and father is an Army veteran who later worked as a security guard at Waukegan High School. “I would like to venture more into the community by working with health departments, correctional facilities and other community organizations designed to aid others.”


Justine Jones

Educational Talent Search Staff

Round Lake High School

Reaching out and connecting with students of many different backgrounds is natural for Justine Jones, CLC’s new Educational Talent Search specialist for Round Lake High School.

Justine, who has tutored Spanish-speaking students at Cristo Rey St. Martin Catholic High School in Waukegan, said she appreciated the opportunity to live in Mexico during the summer of 2006. “Living there helped me to learn more of the slang aspect of Spanish, and that has helped me communicate with students here,” she said.

The Gurnee native is a 2008 graduate of Warren Township High School, where she played on the tennis team and tutored Spanish. Justine then enrolled at DePaul University, where she said the age span and student diversity was “vast.” Seeking to be closer to family, Justine transferred to CLC, where she earned an associate degree in 2010.

During her years at CLC, Justine said she appreciated not only the college’s multi-cultural diversity, but also caring instructors such as Dr. Eric Rogers, a psychology professor. “He went out of his way to help his students in and out of class,” Justine recalled. “I and the other students really appreciated that.”

Transferring to Northeastern Illinois University, she graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor sociology.

Outside of work, Justine enjoys connecting with others as a volunteer for Public Action to Deliver Shelter, or PADS, a non-profit organization that provides emergency shelter, permanent supportive housing and resources to homeless individuals and families in Lake County.

Justine said she looks forward to getting to know RLHS students and helping them achieve their goals. Mindful of her own goals, she said eventually she’d like to earn a master’s degree and follow in her father’s footsteps and become a college dean.


Andrea Scaife

Educational Talent Search Staff

Zion-Benton High School and New Tech at Zion-Benton East High School

After graduating from North Chicago Community High School in 1993, Andrea Scaife entered college but later found herself transferring among several schools as her needs or major changed. During the transfers, she discovered that she was not only accruing more debt, she noticed that some credits earned at one college did not transfer to other colleges.

“I was a first-generation college student, and without family members who were knowledgeable of financial aid or applying to college, I had to teach myself how to navigate the application process,” she recalled.

Nevertheless, Andrea persevered and later graduated from Southern Illinois University in 2013, earning a bachelor’s degree in workforce education and development. Today, she’s giving back to her community as a student services specialist in CLC’s Educational Talent Search program. Working with students at Zion-Benton Township High School and New Tech High School, Andrea guides many who, like her, are first-generation college students. She helps them with the fine points of applying to colleges as well as applying for financial aid and scholarships.

“I encourage high-school students to attend CLC and get good grades because the college is a great place to start,” she said. “You can build up a strong grade point average so that you can transfer to a university of your choice.”

Looking back at her own high-school days, Andrea recalled strong family support for a college education. “My mother, who sold cars for a living, strongly encouraged my sister and me to go to college,” she said.

Today, Andrea is quick to point out how the investment has paid off. “A college education has given me opportunities and it has opened doors in my career,” she said, citing her current job as an example.