The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways Scholarship Program

When Leslie Gallegos creates lesson plans for her education classes at Florida Gulf Coast University, her younger sister Elizabeth often helps her test them out. Leslie earned a scholarship to FGCU through The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways scholarship program, and she expects to graduate in December 2020 with a degree in education.

Elizabeth is now following in her sister’s footsteps, as she was one of 60 middle school students recently inducted into The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways scholarship program.  The sisters’ mother, Maria Isabela Chavez, beamed with pride as she took the parents’ pledge for the second time. Students inducted into the Career Pathways scholarship program attend Immokalee Middle School as sixth, seventh and eighth graders, and the commitment they’ve made at this young age will benefit them far into the future. The 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.

College is a desired path for many students in the program. The Immokalee Foundation’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. And no matter which path these newly inducted students choose, they can count on their families and mentors, who also took pledges during the induction.

At the ceremony, Joel Guerrero, 15, recalled 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.” Joel and his brother, Eloy, will be graduating from high school together. When they’re ready for college, the Career Pathways scholarship program will help alleviate a substantial financial burden for the family. “There are many wonderful experiences our family has shared with The Immokalee Foundation,” said his mother, Evita Anzualda. “I feel very blessed to have them in our lives.”

Evita Anzualda, Joel Guerrero, Jerry and Janet Belle

Foundation Board Member Jerry Belle spoke about how lucky he felt to have been matched as Guerrero’s mentor. “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.” These new students are now beginning an exciting journey toward their future careers, and the rewards for their perseverance will be life-changing.

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, its signature events, 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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