The Immokalee Foundation recently inducted 60 students into its Career Pathways scholarship program. Most of the students attend Immokalee Middle School as sixth- or seventh-graders, and the commitment they’ve made at this early age will benefit them far into the future.
Accompanied by their parents and mentors, students pledged to maintain good grades, exhibit good behavior in and out of school, remain crime- and drug-free, perform community service, and meet regularly with their mentors throughout the rest of their educational journey in exchange for enrichment programs and a tuition scholarship to a Florida public college or university.
While college is a desired path for many students in The Immokalee Foundation, the organization’s new initiative, Career Pathways: Empowering Students to Succeed, recognizes that well-paying careers are also available to students who earn industry-recognized certifications and credentials in addition to professions that require a college degree.
No matter which path these newly inducted students choose, they can count on their families and their mentors, who also took pledges during the induction ceremony.
Students and supporters heard from speaker Joel Guerrero, 15, who recalled for them how proud he was on the day of his own induction. “I was unsure of what would await me,” he said. “The Immokalee Foundation has opened up new doors and opportunities for me.”
Guerrero’s mother, Evita Anzualda, also spoke. She explained that Joel and his brother, Eloy, will be graduating from high school together. She said the boys’ commitment to The Immokalee Foundation, and the foundation’s commitment to her family, will alleviate a huge financial burden when her sons are ready for college.
“There are many wonderful experiences our family has shared with The Immokalee Foundation,” Anzualda said. “I feel very blessed to have them in our lives.”
Mentor Jerry Belle spoke next, telling the audience how lucky he felt to be matched with his mentee, Joel Guerrero. “Joel and I meet weekly to share experiences and focus on those areas that will benefit him as he prepares for his future,” Belle said. “Sometimes I think that I benefit more than Joel from our interactions.”
Among the inductees was Elizabeth Gallegos, whose sister, Leslie, entered the program when she was in seventh grade. Leslie earned a scholarship and has been attending FGCU for two years. She expects to graduate with a degree in education in December 2020. She has been a role model for Elizabeth, who has helped Leslie try out the lesson plans she has created for class. Their mother, Maria Isabela Chavez, smiled with pride as she took the parents’ pledge for the second time.
The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, becoming a mentor, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit https://immokaleefoundation.org.