Faces of Success: Past & Present

by Noemi Y. Perez

Marily Vega

Success can be defined as “preparation meeting opportunity.

The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways program ensures students in the Immokalee community have every possible chance at success by providing them with the support, tools and skills needed for an opportunity filled future.

With an educational curriculum designed to help each Immokalee Foundation student achieve their goals, Career Pathways places Immokalee middle and high school students on the road to well-paying, in-demand careers in four high-growth Southwest Florida employment sectors, including education and human services.

Working with industry experts and educators, The Immokalee Foundation developed after-school and summer programs for students interested in teaching, public administration, social service, and law enforcement careers that pay family-supporting wages.

The Immokalee Foundation’s Education and Human Services Pathway coordinator, Marily Vega, helps manage the career exploration, professional guest speakers and career panels, hands on career activities, and internships that introduce students to new experiences and developing new skills.

The first in her family to graduate high school and college– with the help of The Immokalee Foundation – Vega gives back by serving as an example to students forging a path to a successful career. The Immokalee High School and Florida Gulf Coast University alumna said she returned to her Immokalee hometown to share her passion of giving back to the community.

Vanessa Hernandez

“I can see myself in each student, and I see the full potential they all have in succeeding academically and professionally,” said Vega, who furthered her education and earned a master’s degree in social work from Florida State University. “My goal is to let each student know they can become whomever they strive to be in life! I share with them that if I could accomplish my academic goals being from the same town as them, with the same home scenario and dreams, they too can achieve what I have – and even higher.”

Vega’s desire to give back is echoed by Vanessa Hernandez, a 10th grade Immokalee High School student in the Education and Human Services Pathway. She is serving as a tutor in the Immokalee Readers program, which builds literacy skills for elementary age children by matching them with high school students who are selected, trained and supervised by professional teachers.

Hernandez’s willingness to help students – and her home community of Immokalee – began with her own positive experience in middle school when she received after-school help from The Immokalee Foundation.

“The Immokalee Foundation helped me overcome some delays I had experienced in my learning,” Hernandez said. “By becoming a tutor with Immokalee Readers, I knew I could help other students improve their reading and educational skills at a young age.”

Hernandez’s career goal is to become a federal agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service – and her dream is well within reach.

To help our students succeed, please consider purchasing school supplies from The Immokalee Foundation’s Amazon Wish List including binders, highlighters, pencils and pens, sheet protectors and scissors at education.immokaleefoundation.org. These small purchases have a meaningful impact.

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, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at noemi.perez@immokaleefoundation.org.

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