It was a historic event for both The Immokalee Foundation and its students: For the first time in 25 years 24 students from Immokalee traveled to a presidential inauguration inWashington, D.C.

“It was a life-changing moment,” said17-year-old Immokalee High School senior Ulna Beaubrum after the trip. “There were so many things I hadn’t seen before. It was surreal.”

Like the other 23 students who journeyed by bus – organized by The Brunson Foundation and State Rep. Byron Donalds – to see Donald Trump officially become the nation’s 45th president on January 20, Beaubrum was selected as a result of an essay contest about why she wanted to attend. The contest was open to students in The Immokalee Foundation’s programs. All have great potential and are intelligent, but they have spent little time out of Immokalee– making the trip to the United States capital a unique experience.

“I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve left Florida,” said 17-year-old Immokalee High School senior Leslie Gallegos. “It was cold! We rode on the Metro, and I was looking around at the traffic, which was mostly small cars and no trucks, like in Immokalee. It was a really populated area and way different from Immokalee. I felt very patriotic. Being part of this event was amazing, to think the world was watching on a small screen and we were in the crowd, cheering.”

Gallegos also attends Florida South Western State College on an early admission program. She hopes to major in education. One can only imagine that this experience will help her some day in her chosen field.

Students also witnessed another historic event. The Women’s March on January 21 gave them a further lesson in democracy in action.

On their last day in D.C., the students saw the monuments of historic people that they had thus far only read about in school.

Beaubrum will attend Florida State University in the fall. She intends to major in biology and make her career in the medical field. But it was a dose of history that had her thinking very hard in January. “It takes time to process all of what we saw,” she said. “We just don’t see things like that in Immokalee.”

“Our students work hard and are so deserving of an opportunity to attend this historic event,” said The Immokalee Foundation Program Services Director Noemi Perez. “They were so excited and could not stop talking about how they were going to be able to experience an event that many others never would.”

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence.

To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, including volunteering, becoming a mentor, making a donation or any other information, call 239.430.9122 or visit

Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at

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