WIU Student Featured in NPR Show “This American Life”

A Western Illinois University student was featured in the Sept. 14 National Public Radio show “This American Life,” as well as in a book featured in the show.

The story of Kewauna Lerma, a second year student from Chicago, who is studying biology and medical sciences, is included in the book, “How Children Succeed,” by education reporter Paul Tough. He studies new approaches to educating children and his book includes stories of children who succeeded in education despite their life situation.

Lerma said she met Tough through “One Goal,” an educational program in the Chicago schools that helped her develop non-cognitive skills, including leadership principles.

“Honestly I was surprised that anyone would be interested in hearing about my life struggles and goals,” Lerma said recently. “(Tough) had already heard about me through his friend from New York who came to visit previously. When I introduced myself, Paul Tough was interested in what I was doing in the program and I also began to talk about my life. After that day, everything changed and I began to set meetings with Tough and tell him about my life in school and my previous education.”

According to the radio program, “One Goal” helped Lerma develop educational and developmental skills to bring her ACT score up to qualify for admission to WIU.

Lerma still stays in touch with those who helped her in the program, which also helps students stay in and succeed at college.

To listen to the NPR story, visit thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/474/back-to-school.

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