But as the students celebrate their accomplishments, they also honor a fellow classmate who was not with them today.
It took a village to get the young men to this point, from their parents to their teachers. And there were definitely challenges along the way.
On Thursday, they proved not only to themselves, but also their community, that dreams do come true.
"I will be attending Illinois State University," DeAndre Jones said.
It was their moment to tell where they're going after years of hard work.
"I will be attending Middleberry University," Devin Watson said.
The young men celebrated with their families during a ceremony at Daley Plaza Thursday afternoon.
"Our students received 1,500 letters of admission from over 170 colleges and universities," Tim Kim, founder and CEO of Urban Prep Academies, said.
"From where I come from not a lot of people go to college but my family, having a strong support system. They pushed me," Jones said.
During the celebration, they took time to honor a student who couldn't be there. They presented Yuri Hardy's mother with a tie, symbolizing the next academic step.
Hardy was gunned down last December. That wasn't the first time Urban Prep has lost a student to gun violence.
"It is tremendous what they have to go through every day and they still come to school. They still want to pursue this dream of going to college," King said.
A dream now accomplished for students and their families.
"I'm proud of him. I'm not going to cry today," Tracie Jones, a parent, said.
Lakeisha Frazier was just feet from the stage when her son Lavelle Allen announced his college plans. She's been with him every step of the way in life.
"You did it. My son did it. He did it. He came through every obstacle that thrown his way. He struggled but baby made it through the grace of God," Frazier said.
Students received more than $14 million dollars in scholarship money.
One student was accepted to 39 colleges. That's a record for Urban Prep Academies.
This fall they will be headed to schools across the country.
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