The ChicagoCHEC Fellows program is a comprehensive learning experience for undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students at Northeastern Illinois University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, the City Colleges of Chicago, and other Community/ Junior Colleges in the Chicago metropolitan area who are planning to apply to graduate or medical school. This program is focused on the development of academic, technical, and professional skills in preparation for careers in social, behavioral, and biomedical research and in healthcare. ChicagoCHEC Fellows will spend the summer in seminars, workshops, and research lectures learning from leading researchers.

Hear from the 2023 Fellows Cohort about their experience on the SkinnyTrees: Lift Health for All podcast!


SkinnyTrees: Lift Health for All · 2023 ChicagoCHEC Fellows: Reflections on Experience



The Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC) is a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer partnership led by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Northeastern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Our mission is to advance cancer health equity through meaningful scientific discovery, education, training, and community engagement. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. The ChicagoCHEC Fellows program, which seeks to increase the number of strong and diverse social, behavioral, and biomedical researchers and healthcare professionals, is critical to that vision.

This program seeks outstanding undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students with an interest in careers in health and health care who: (1) intend to apply to graduate or medical school; and (2) can bring diverse perspectives and experiences to advance cancer health equity.

How the program works

Selected Fellows participate in a summer intensive experience that runs from June 10 to August 2, 2024. The program is paid and full-time, running Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm for 8 weeks. Students should not, therefore, plan to take courses or engage in other work or volunteer commitments during the daytime of the program’s 8 weeks. 

The ChicagoCHEC fellows program prepares students for careers in social, behavioral, and biomedical research and in healthcare. During the intensive 8-week program, fellows meet with leading scholars in basic, clinical, translational, prevention, control, behavioral, and population research over a course of research lectures at Northwestern University, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, the University of Illinois Cancer Center, and Northeastern Illinois University. Weekly visits to CHEC community partner organizations are also planned. In addition, fellows will participate in journal clubs, case studies, peer mentoring workshop design and facilitation with high school students, and group activities to develop communication, career readiness, writing, and critical thinking skills, as well as leadership development focused on self-reflection, building resiliency, understanding conflict, and finding mentors. At the end of the program, fellows are expected to present a group, literature-based project on cancer health disparities during the fellows’ graduation symposium.

ChicagoCHEC Fellows will receive a total stipend of $5,056 (students must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to receive funding). Housing, meals, and travel support are not provided. Fellows will spend most days at the NU campus, with one day a week at the UIC campus and some days on the NEIU campus. All 3 campuses are accessible via public transportation; fellows who choose to drive will be provided with parking vouchers. Transportation to community partner sites will be provided.

At the conclusion of the program, fellows become part of an alumni network and are invited to attend ChicagoCHEC’s annual meetings and become mentors to subsequent years’ ChicagoCHEC Fellows. Fellows are expected to meet ChicagoCHEC’s requirements for the submission of periodic information needed for overall project performance monitoring, which includes an annual survey on fellows’ educational and career progression.  Graduates of the Fellows program are also eligible to apply to ChicagoCHEC Learning Experiences and Programs.

Key Dates and Deadlines

December 20, 2023    

Early Application Deadline

January 2024          

Interviews of early applicant finalists

February 5, 2024                 

Early applicant selection and notification

February 5, 2024     

Final Application Deadline

February/March 2024  

Interviews of finalists

March 2024                     

Selection and notification

June 10, 2024         

Start of summer program

August 2, 2024            

End of summer program

Eligibility criteria

The ChicagoCHEC Fellowship is an enrichment program for undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students interested in learning more about the biological, environmental, social, and genetic causes of health disparities. Students with a keen interest in careers in social, behavioral, and biomedical research, as well as students interested in attending medical or other health professional school programs, are especially encouraged to apply. The admission committee will give preference to students from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (including but not limited to African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders), individuals with disabilities, and/or individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. ChicagoCHEC welcomes applications from students in all disciplines and encourages first-generation college students to apply.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  2. Meet one of the three following criteria:

    a) A current UIC/NU/NEIU student who will have completed at least two semesters of college coursework by the start of the program in June 2024; or

    b) Enrolled at least 6 semester hours at one of the City Colleges of Chicago or one of the community colleges in the Chicago metro area, with the intent to apply to a four-year college; or

    c) Current post-baccalaureate student taking classes at NEIU, NU, or UIC who graduated with their bachelor’s degree in May 2022 or later.

  3. Intend to apply to graduate or professional school.
  4. Be able to attend the ChicagoCHEC Fellows program for 8 weeks, Monday through Friday, from 9 AM to 5 PM. The program will be in person and primarily take place in downtown Chicago. You are responsible for travel to and from the program locations unless otherwise specified.

If you have any questions about whether you are eligible to apply, please send your questions to [email protected]

Selection criteria

Members of the ChicagoCHEC Research Education Core will assess each applicant based on the following criteria:

  • Academic, professional, and personal achievements
  • Potential for future growth and career advancement
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Individual plans for incorporating the fellowship experience into specific career goals

The review committee will select finalists from the applicants and interview them via Zoom. Not all applicants are guaranteed an interview.

How to apply

Submission of a complete application involves the following steps:

1. Prepare in advance the following documents and save them to your hard drive:

  • An up-to-date curriculum vitae or resume. 
  • Two separate essays on the following topics: (1) What are the reasons you want to be a ChicagoCHEC Fellow? Include a discussion of your strengths and qualifications for the program and how this fellowship experience will fit with your career plans (up to 300 words); and (2) What is something that people don’t necessarily know about you, but that you think they should? (up to 300 words). 
  • College transcripts (unofficial transcripts are accepted).
  • Two letters of recommendation (at least one letter must be from a faculty member)
  1. Upload all required documents to the online submission system. Letters of recommendation can be uploaded by applicants directly to the online submission system or applicants can ask faculty to complete the Letter of Recommendation using the unique links which will be sent to you after submitting your application. ALL application materials, including letters of recommendation, must be received by December 20, 2023 (early application deadline) or February 5, 2024 (final application deadline) for full consideration. Please review the application and program key dates above.

Click the link below to view our informational video about each section of the application.

All applicants should familiarize themselves with online submission requirements well before the final submission deadlines. In fairness to all applicants, late submissions or incomplete applications will not be accepted.


Please direct inquiries to: [email protected]


2023 Fellows Cohort onsite at Urban Growers Collective alongside CHEC Staff