We look forward to having you as part of our Future Leaders Academy. Please apply below:
We look forward to having you as part of our Future Leaders Academy. Please apply below:
By Luz Corcuera
Almost exactly one year ago, in February 2016, I had the pleasure of meeting with a delegation of Japanese students who were visiting St. Stephen’s Episcopal School as a part of an exchange program. Mr. Patrick Whelan, Head of Social Studies, invited me to speak with the students, and our discussion centered on social justice, peace, poverty, immigration, marginalization, education, and social determinants of health.
After that encounter, some students kept in touch with me, including Akisumi Nouguchi. Akisumi is an impressive young man who really wants to use science to help humanity. He has now prepared a brochure (please see below) to explain what happened in Kumamoto (Japan) after two earthquakes struck this place in just two days. Akisumi shared his project with me and asked me to share it with my network. I hope you find his work and passion as enlightening and inspiring as I found it.
This will be the generation to bridge divides and create a just and peaceful world for subsequent generations.
Thank you, Akisumi, for sharing your work with us.
Pictured here are the #Madewithlove ladies and UnidosNow supporter Herb Moller.
We were surprised and delighted to receive some wonderful, unexpected community support from Megan, Amanda, and Sonia, who generously baked and delivered homemade cookies to the UnidosNow team in November! They just wanted us to know that we are thought of and cared for. Many thanks to this thoughtful trio for making our day brighter through their #madewithlove campaign!
Herb Moller, a long time supporter and mentor of UnidosNow, was in the office and gladly accepted the gift from these talented ladies.
UnidosNow is incredibly fortunate to have this dynamic couple sharing their many talents, time and resources with us! Kathy is a retired educator and Tom is a retired software engineer who worked for NASA. They decided to get involved with UnidosNow four years ago because they believe in education, giving back to the community, and sharing their talents, especially with young people. During the last several years, Kathy and Tom have generously provided myriad types of support, as needed, from event logistics to student mentoring.
Tom currently has three mentees, all of whom are either sophomores or juniors, and are interested in the engineering field. Jonathan Barroso, Nicholas Gonzalez, and Daniel Paredes have noted that their mentor, Tom, affirms in them their desire to pursue engineering. With a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, Tom is a role model and his mentees aspire to have as rewarding a career as he has.
Given her breadth of expertise as an educator, Kathy, who has worked with vulnerable children, understands that every student has potential and that teachers are tremendously influential in their lives. She has witnessed how encouragement from a caring teacher can help a young person pursue their dreams.
Kathy and Tom believe in and embrace UnidosNow’s college prep initiatives. We are so deeply grateful for their ongoing support of our students. And for their heartfelt belief in Dreaming Big, so that young people can explore their potential and be empowered with the tools they need to succeed in life!
The UnidosNow education team and partners have been crisscrossing Manatee and Sarasota counties in the last month, working to ensure high school seniors have the critical information needed to complete their FAFSA. We conducted numerous outreach activities to inform students and families about FAFSA labs, where volunteers help families fill out their FAFSA forms. Our outreach efforts included, for example, classes or lunch hours where seniors were in attendance at Palmetto and Bayshore high schools, a college fair at Palmetto High, an information session at Sacred Heart Church, the Hispanic Festival at Holy Cross Church, an info table at the Remote Area Medical event at MTC, and electronic outreach via our Remind system, which sends text notifications to students who are registered with us. UnidosNow engaged over 1,000 seniors through this outreach. Find pictures of all these events in our Facebook page.
Subsequently, in partnership with our community partners, FAFSA labs were offered at Sarasota Military Academy, North Port, Sarasota, Booker, Palmetto, Lakewood Ranch and Bayshore high schools, where trained volunteers assisted approximately 254 families to complete the FAFSA. Our invaluable partners include Talent for Tomorrow in Sarasota County – comprised of United Way Suncoast, Sarasota Education Foundation, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and CareerEdge. – and the Local College Access Network (LCAN) in Manatee County – comprised ofthe Manatee Community Foundation, United Way of Manatee, The School District of Manatee, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, USF Sarasota-Manatee, Manatee Technical College, Take Stock in Children of Manatee County, and CareerEdge. UnidosNow is a member of both collaboratives.
We believe these partnership efforts are significantly impacting FAFSA completion rates in our area, as evidenced in the below data charts from the US Department of Education for Manatee and Sarasota counties:
For information on upcoming FAFSA labs or information sessions, click here.
In November, UnidosNow’s Executive Director Luz Corcuera spoke to the Healthy Teens Coalition membership about the myths and facts associated with applying to college for low income, first generation high school students.
Some of the myths, which UnidosNow programming directly addresses, include the notion that college is too expensive to consider; it’s unattainable; the student doesn’t have “what it takes;” and/or studying out of state is too costly.
The truth is that these students underestimate their own potential, so that, without the appropriate support to help them realize that potential, they often drop out of college. However, statistics show that a significantly higher percentage of these students graduate when they attend smaller, more selective colleges than most large public universities in Florida.
Merit-based scholarships are often more substantial at such institutions. In order to access these opportunities, students need to take the first step, which is completing the FAFSA. This will determine if Pell Grant money is available to them and will allow them to apply for private scholarships, which require FAFSA completion.
The American Association of University Women invited UnidosNow to speak about our work last month. Executive Director Luz Corcuera and FLA Scholar Gabrielle, jointly, presented at this special meeting.
Luz discussed UnidosNow’s mission to empower and inspire young Latinos and their families. Gabrielle spoke about the impact of the programs in which she has participated, in particular, the Future Leaders Academy, and how it motivated her to revamp her resume and essay and apply to selective colleges.
Gabrielle, whose dream is to become a pediatric surgeon, will graduate from high school with an associate’s degree in 2017 and has been accepted to UCF and USF. Exploring all options, she is applying to other schools, as well.
Three of our Future Leaders Academy scholars were recently invited to visit Goshen College in Indiana.
Thanks to the sponsorship of the college and the support of Gilberto Perez, Jr. and Rachel Smucker, our talented students Laura Orjuela, Fany Benitez, and Joana Gonzalez, along with our Director of Education, Hector Tejeda, visited the school in November.
The students truly enjoyed the opportunity and the many different activities and classes they attended. They were also amazed by the hospitality of the people on campus.
“Goshen College gave me the best insight on the benefits of attending a small college,” Laura Orjuela noted.
And Joana Gonzalez stated, “It was a great experience to see how small a college could be and how culture and everyday life in another part of America is different from life in Sarasota.”
UnidosNow recently convened a group of parents of our summer FLA scholars who are, now, in their senior year. The goal of the meeting was to provide follow-up and to support their efforts to help their children complete college applications. We were thrilled to learn how engaged the parents are in the process! We are here to offer them additional tools, encouragement, and support, as they work with their children to meet deadlines and benchmarks that will ensure college entrance.
We couldn’t be more proud of Daniel, a Future Leaders Academy scholar. As a high school junior, not only is he a stellar student, with a WGPA of 4.4 at Pine View High, but he is a community leader-in-the-making and our volunteer of the month.
Daniel directed and produced the compelling UnidosNow video for our 2016 Giving Challenge campaign, which we entered into the Best Video Contest. He is also developing the design for our organizational brochure.
Daniel, originally from Peru, will be the first in his family to go to college. He has a love of engineering, which was fostered by his father encouraging him to fix things around the house. He’s planning to study engineering at one of the universities where he’ll be applying, including Purdue University Calumet, Syracuse University, and Stanford.
Daniel also happens to love soccer and started an after-school soccer club at Pine View. We know he will go on to great things in the near future! But in the meantime, we’re lucky to have him sharing his brilliant talents with UnidosNow and his community!