by Noemi Y. Perez, President and CEO

As a society, we understandably place a lot of emphasis in the thrill of high school graduation. I’m happy for any student who can successfully make it to the high school finish line, but in Immokalee, that achievement can be a bit sweeter.

Many in The Immokalee Foundation’s Class of ’22 are the first in their family to graduate high school – and as we’re on the cusp of another graduate school year – they are often the first family members to go to college.

The challenges in Immokalee are widely reported. The irony is that, as an agricultural community, Immokalee’s working class essentially feeds millions of people, yet parents often struggle to meet their family’s basic needs.

For over 30 years, The Immokalee Foundation has focused on education, career-readiness, and professional development for an extraordinary group of students ranging from kindergarten to postsecondary education.

At Immokalee High School, Foundation students represented 12% of the 2022 graduating class. Out of our 39 high school seniors, 18 graduated in the top 20% of their class and six of the top 10 graduates are Immokalee Foundation students.

As part of our celebration, here is a snapshot of our exceptional Class of 22—a blend of tenacity, commitment, kindness and passion. If you’re looking to be inspired, look no further.

Eloy Anzualda III, one of our promising young scientists, is headed to the University of Florida with the goal of becoming a shark biologist. “I hope to conduct leading research on various species of sharks to give better insight into their lives, how we can interact with them, and how we can use their gifts to better our world.”

Lizbeth Huapilla is on her way to Florida South Western State College. Ten years from now she wants to run her own business while giving back to people in need. “The Immokalee Foundation has changed my life in many ways. They taught me to get out of my comfort zone, be independent, and never give up. And I did, and I am, and I won’t.”

Ketnise Pierre is off to Sante Fe College—the first step on her journey to become a nurse practitioner. “I would say the words that best describe me are outgoing and patient – and I am willing to take a risk.”

Stephanie Robert is going to the University of Florida to study nursing. The Immokalee Foundation has changed my life in ways I could not have imagined. The Foundation allowed me to become the young woman I am today—through their Career Pathways program, mentor meetings, class trips, seminars, and so on. The Immokalee Foundation has helped me form strong relationships that will continue to impact me for the rest of my life.”

There’s no limit to what all our graduates can achieve. And our highly supportive Foundation team and community volunteers will be alongside them as they pursue their dreams.

For more information on The Immokalee Foundation’s transformational work and to stay connected with our student’s stories, visit:

About The Immokalee Foundation For more than 30 years, The Immokalee Foundation has been preparing the next generation of leaders through a 100% focus on education, career readiness, and professional development for students in Immokalee–from kindergarten to postsecondary education. The Immokalee Foundation offers new pathways to success and financial independence through robust programming that prepares students for well-paying, in-demand professional careers in Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management and Healthcare.

For additional information call 239-430-9122or visit

Immokalee Foundation student
Stephanie Robert as the student
speaker at The Immokalee
Foundation’s inaugural CEO Summit.

The Class of 22’s Eloy Anzualda III
represents The Immokalee Foundation
in an interview with WINK News.

Immoklaee Foundation graduate
Lizbeth Huapilla